Madison Children's Museum Blog

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Dolls get a new home for the 2020 American Girl Benefit Sale


Overhead view of the Alliant Energy Center, a.k.a. the new home of the 2020 American Girl Benefit Sale!

The 2020 American Girl Benefit Sale will take place on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12 at the Alliant Energy Center, Arena in Madison, Wisconsin.

We know the sale is a beloved tradition for many families. And tradition usually means doing things the same way! For nearly four decades, the sale has been held on the third weekend in July. The former warehouse in Middleton has served us well for several years (the sale has moved twice previously over its 33 years).

We thought some of you—especially our most loyal and dedicated customers—might want to know more about why we chose to change the date and location for the sale this year.

Middleton Parking Lot = No Tents

You might have noticed that the parking lot outside the former sale warehouse in Middleton had deteriorated. The landlord recently repaved it. As a result, we are no longer allowed to drive stakes into the concrete, which has been an essential requirement for setting up the tents on the sale grounds outside the warehouse. When we looked into setting up weighted tents as an alternative, it increased our annual cost by tens of thousands of dollars! We need tents to protect our shoppers and volunteers from the intense July weather; doing without wasn’t an option.

So we started “thinking outside the warehouse” and exploring how the sale might work in different locations.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that Alliant Energy Center, the Madison area’s premier venue for large events, offers a highly functional space for an affordable price.

Benefits of the New Location

Of course, any new space needs to serve our customers first. Here are some of the benefits of holding the event at Alliant:

  • The entire sale will be held indoors—this includes the crafter tents, food, queuing station, and, of course, all of the merchandise and checkout stations. No more flash storms wreaking havoc!
  • Free, onsite parking
  • Indoor plumbing
  • More room and places to sit
  • More and better on-site food options
  • Safer environment, especially for small children and the elderly

There is an increased cost to ship all of the merchandise from our warehouse—where our volunteers work most of the year getting ready for the sale—to Alliant Energy Center for sale weekend. But we found other great opportunities for cost-savings related to the move: Previously, we have rented a large warehouse space based largely on our needs for storage and for holding the sale two days in July. Freed from those needs, we can now rent a much smaller space for our volunteers to work in year-round and store merchandise off-site. This will create further savings in rent. We move out in February 2020.

As part of the contract, Alliant Energy Center provides tables, chairs, and other equipment. They provide staff to set up and break down. They pick up and cart away trash and recycling. Previously, we had to rent or buy all of this equipment, and it was set up and taken down by the same (exhausted) volunteers and museum staff that had worked every other aspect of the sale.

All those savings from equipment and labor mean that your purchases will go further to support Madison Children’s Museum, and we can devote more of our time and effort to other areas of the sale.

Alliant Energy Center cannot accommodate the sale on the traditional third weekend in July, as that’s when the Dane County Fair takes place. So we had to move the date earlier in July by one week.

Bottom Line: The 33rd American Benefit Sale will now take place on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin

The move will require some other adjustments to the way the sale is run. Watch your email and Facebook for details over the course of winter 2020. We are confident that these changes will improve your sale experience. We can’t wait to see you there!

11 comments on “Dolls get a new home for the 2020 American Girl Benefit Sale

  1. Sheila Moenkedick
    January 6, 2020

    Thinking of volunteering in 2021, will the sale be the 2nd weekend going forward?

    • Madison Children's Museum Blog
      January 6, 2020

      Hi Sheila, it’s too early to say at this point. We’d like to keep it consistent, and Alliant will always have a conflict with our old dates because the Dane County Fair is on the third weekend of the month. But we’ll have to see how this year goes before we set anything in stone.

  2. Renee
    January 6, 2020

    Will this now be on the same weekend as the art fair on the square?

    • Madison Children's Museum Blog
      January 6, 2020

      Yes, it will, but Alliant is far enough away that the traffic shouldn’t be bad. I would recommend taking the beltline instead of coming through downtown if you want to avoid any of it.

  3. Karen
    January 6, 2020

    Will you still offer hotel accommodation blocks?

    • Madison Children's Museum Blog
      January 6, 2020

      Yes, the block will be coming out in a week or so.

    • Louise
      January 7, 2020

      Hi i am planning on flying from England to come to my first benefit sale and i was wondering if tickets might be able to be emailed? Also will it be possible for me to buy tickets online if i do not live in USA as i do not have a zipcode? Id really hate to wait until tickets are released and miss out when 2 or us are travelling around 5000 miles there and same back home to come to the sale and visit the rest of your beautiful country, thank you in advance for any help kind regards Louise p.s incase you need to know i am hoping to be able to get 2 tickets for each of the days

      • Madison Children's Museum Blog
        January 7, 2020

        Hi Louise, for specific questions like this its best to email us at We have a procedure for picking up tickets at Will Call. We can hold your tickets there for you to pick up on the day of the sale. And yes, our ticket form will accept international addresses.

    • Madison Children's Museum Blog
      January 7, 2020

      Yes, those will be announced soon. Make sure you’re subscribed to our email list:

  4. Nic
    January 7, 2020

    Can you explain what the ticket lottery is?

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This entry was posted on January 6, 2020 by in American Girl Benefit Sale, Museum Happenings and tagged , .


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