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How Covid (And Ungrateful American Girl Fans) Killed The Benefit Sale

Last night, after a 36 year run that spanned most of American Girl's history, the Madison Children's Museum announced that the 2023 American Girl Benefit Sale will be the final sale. There are many factors that led to this, including a focus on actual programming for the children's museum and less product being returned to American Girl, leading to a lower selection. But the biggest factor that led to this was probably Covid - and ungrateful American Girl fans.


Let me explain. From the first sale in 1988 to 2019, all American Girl Benefit Sales were held in person. While American Girl fans like myself flew in from out of state for this event, many people were regulars, and everyone had clear expectations on what to expect. Shipping products out of state will take long and is expensive. There are limits on products, and there's less of a selection on Sunday. These rules were pretty much biblical to salesgoers, and it provided an efficient system for unpaid Benefit Sale volunteers to run the sale.


Then 2020 happened.


Obviously, the pandemic led to in-person gatherings being outright cancelled earlier in the pandemic and limited later on. In response to the pandemic, the Madison Children's Museum opted to have a order pickup system for salesgoers in 2020 and shipping to home in 2021 and 2022. However, many American Girl fans not familiar with the format of the sale were frustrated with product supply issues, the limits on ordering, and most notably, the length and cost of shipping to out of state locations. Instead of taking these frustrations out in a healthy matter (like being patient), people on Facebook bashed and harassed the unpaid volunteers about matters out of their control. It got so bad that the Madison Children's Museum had to remind full grown adults to not harass volunteers about logistical issues regarding a nonprofit charity shipping dolls.


Needless to say, I think this led to the downfall of the Benefit Sale. The Museum did have to allocate more and more resources towards the sale in recent years, and there has been less product, but I think how these so-called "fans" treated the unpaid volunteers about issues out of their control put the final nail in the coffin for the sale.


Rest in peace, AGBS. We'll miss you.

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That’s a shame! I just got back into AG and only learned about the Benefit Sale this year (and I can’t go this year of course). People have really been on one these last few years—I don’t blame them for not wanting to repeat it if attendees gave them such a negative experience. But it’s too bad!

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rfds fds
May 11, 2023

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Replying to

I was surprised Sydney allowed this to remain posted.

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I've noticed that AG keeps shortening the return policy lately. I think it's now 90 days, and even less for things like collaborations. Then things like Harry Potter and CYO are now non-refundable. So less and less can be returned. That might be contributing to it also.


But I totally agree that people were completely out of control last year. It took a while to get our items shipped, but we did not complain. We filled out the form when it asked if we hadn't gotten a call regarding shipping. Yes, it was expensive, but not as bad as I had anticipated. Things disappeared quickly when you added things to your cart. That's why we did multiple purchases. If there…

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Replying to

I just checked the American Girl website returns page, and you are correct. Regular returns are limited to only 90 days now. Other specialty collection items are only 30 days, while there are “all sales final“ items for which they’re saying they won’t accept returns. Again, I wonder what happens if an “all sales final” item reaches a customer broken or in otherwise unacceptable condition? Even at clearance prices, some items are still relatively expensive.

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violet.stories
violet.stories
May 10, 2023

hmm, I notes last year, AG started to make a lot of things on the site final sale no return...

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Replying to

I noticed the same thing and didn’t recall that ever being the case previously. It seemed odd to me.

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Liz Mo
Liz Mo
May 10, 2023

I'm unsure why my comment went missing but last year was not run well. While I don't condone those who harassed volunteers the museum dropped the ball on notifying people they were turning people away at the gate on friday pick up with no explanation and didn't send out an email til 3 hours later.

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