Saturday I went to the American Girl Benefit Sale in Middleton, Wisconsin for the second year. If you’ve never heard of the benefit sale, it is a massive fundraiser for the Madison Children’s Museum and has been going on for 29 years. They sell overstock and return items that have been donated by American Girl for steeply discounted prices.
Let me first say that our experience last year was so-so. I was very happy with the dolls and accessories I brought home, but the actual experience was fairly overwhelming. It was like Black Friday but worse. You can read all about that here. We weren’t really sure what to expect this year and I even felt some hesitation about going, partly because of the rudeness we experienced with the other shoppers last year and partly because when the price list came out I wasn’t that excited (there were a lot of Truly Me outfits, but only discounted $8-10 each and not very much from the Beforever collection).
I am soooo glad we went though, because we had a total blast! It was honestly just an incredibly fun day. We didn’t experience any of the crazy bargain shoppers like we did last year, everyone was nice and fun to talk to, the vendors were so fun to shop, and we got some great treasures!
Our ticket time was 8:15 (last year we had 7:15) which was a great time. The only thing not great was having to wake up at 3:00 a.m. for our four hour drive! We barely had to wait in line at all, they called the 8:15 tickets in at 8:20, so they were really pretty close to being on time. Once we got in it was crowded, but definitely not overwhelming and horribly unpleasant like last year. It’s hard to say why…maybe they were regulating the numbers of people in the building better? Or maybe there are fewer aggressive bargain shoppers at 8:15? A common misconception is that you only have 15 minutes to shop, but that is not true. Once you are in you can take as long as you need, but do keep in mind that there are others waiting to get in so don’t dawdle unnecessarily.
There was absolutely nothing sold out when were in there, and it seemed that they had really good numbers of everything. They had every Beforever doll and I’m pretty sure Truly Me doll, as well as Isabelle and Grace. They had all of the outfits and accessories that were on the pre-published price list, and it seemed like plenty of them. I don’t know about Bitty Baby stuff. Later in the morning I took this picture outside the building, so by 11:00 they had sold out of a few dolls.
I went in with the intention of getting Addy, and thinking she was probably the only doll I would get. I really am not interested in a huge collection of modern dolls since my love is for the historicals, so I wasn’t planning on getting any Truly Me dolls. Well…
So, I picked out my Addy, and I will be honest: I didn’t feel that sparkly fairy dust feeling that I usually get when I pick up my new doll. I dug around the pile a bit, hoping to find one that I would connect with, but it just wasn’t there. I had come chiefly just for her, though, so I just picked one and moved on. I got a lot of books (they had a lot of the mysteries) and I got a couple of outfits, including Caroline’s Party Dress, which is the only outfit I was missing from her collection. I then moved on to the Truly Me table, where I was actually able to spend quite a bit of time browsing. The worst of the crowd was at the outfit/accessory table, it really wasn’t too bad at the dolls. I picked up quite a few dolls to see if any would “speak” to me, but I didn’t really feel it. I’ve been considering some more created historicals (like my Linda and Susan) but I none of the dolls seemed quite right for that this time. It wasn’t until I looked at #62, a doll I have always drooled over, that I really considered taking home a second doll. The problem was that my mom was also buying #62 and I really don’t like having duplicates between our collections (and my sister’s, too). I don’t know why, I just always try to avoid it. She is just SO beautiful though, so I found myself standing in the checkout line with her. I came really close to putting her back a couple of times, but my mom talked me into keeping her and I am so thrilled that I did. Her name is Delaney, and she is sister to my doll Daphne. I really adore her; I actually think the Sonali face mold might just be my new favorite.
The checkout process is a well oiled machine; we moved through the line quickly and got out of there. They have a great bag check system outside so you can browse the silent auction and the vendors without having to lug your stuff around. This was the line for the checkout, you can see the Truly Me table in the background:
The silent auction is super fun, because it consists of tons of donated items sold in small lots, most of which are retired (I didn’t get any good pictures, but it was basically just tables under a tent). There were several dolls available for auction including an amazingly beautiful……Addy. Yep, within five minutes of buying my Addy doll, I found one that sparkled for me (I hope you guys know what I’m talking about. I promise I’m not crazy.) It’s weird, because I always thought I wanted a Beforever Addy based on pictures I saw. But in real life, I found this pre-Beforever Addy to be much more beautiful to me. I like her skin tone better (the Beforever Addy’s skin has a red tone to it, I think), her hair is softer, and her eyes are bigger and brighter. This Addy in the auction was wearing her retired birthday outfit. I fell absolutely in love and knew that I was not leaving without that Addy. The auctions end at different times throughout the day. Fortunately this one ended at 10:00, so I didn’t have too long to stand around biting my nails. There were several bidders, but I wrote down my max amount with a few minutes to spare and won! It was so thrilling! Real life eBay. 🙂
I feel really bad about buying the Beforever Addy. I never should have bought her when it didn’t feel right. The benefit sale asks that you do not resell the items you buy (many people ignore this, as you can see from a quick eBay search) and I really honestly did not mean for this to happen, but I will be selling my Beforever Addy on eBay (yes, I will be taking her outfit because it’s beautiful, so she will be nude). I am absolutely not trying to make a profit or anything like that, I would just like to recoup some of my money. If you are interested in buying her please let me know!
Anyway, other than the little guilt I was feeling about that, I was just ecstatic! I had two beautiful dolls to take home. We decided to visit some of the vendors, even though we normally don’t buy homemade doll clothes since with both can sew. This time we did, though! There were some that were just so incredibly cute that I could not resist! Plus, some of the vendors donate a percentage of their profits back to the museum, so that’s pretty cool. Everything I came home with is pictured here:
Delaney is wearing an outfit I purchased from a vendor, her lilac meet dress is not pictured. The long green formal dress is for Daphne, it’s not really my usual style for my dolls, but it just so happened to be modeled on a #26 (same as Daphne) and it looked amazing. I decided that she has a violin recital coming up and will need to wear it for that. 🙂 The red and white dress with the red shoes is for one of my forties girls, probably Emily. The little hat is crocheted by artisans in Guatemala and sold by a fair trade organization.
Here is my mom’s haul:
Her #64 is named Tatiana, and the other Truly Me doll is still unnamed (she will take suggestions!) My mom won a silent auction lot that included Marie-Grace’s dog Argos and Chrissa’s meet outfit (kind of a strange combination, but I just love Argos).
I did bid on one other silent auction item, Addy’s Scenes and Settings. I really did want it and could have fought harder for it, but by that time in the day I had already spent a considerable sum and decided that I just needed to draw the line somewhere. The winner did get a great deal at $65. They are all but impossible to find on eBay.
There were a couple of “unofficial” sidewalk vendors outside the premises, but we did not buy anything from them this year. There were more of them last year, it seemed.
It was incredibly awesome day. I loved spending the time with my mom, just enjoying our hobby together! We talked to some fun people, the volunteers were great, it was well organized, and the weather was beautiful. It was perfect! Can’t wait until next year!
We did not attend the mark-down sale on Sunday, but from the price list released Saturday night, it seems that they had a lot of inventory still available, which is great for the Sunday shoppers! Last year they completely sold out of Beforever dolls on Saturday, but that did not seem to be the case this year.
I would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding details of the sale! If you are able, I highly encourage you to go next year.