Carolyn, Are views b or c smocked? I can't tell from the line art...
Stash, I can understand AG not being popular in an economically depressed area. It's hard to justify spending that much money for a doll when you are struggling financially. I have bought dolls at Tuesday Morning for around $30 that are the same size and good quality (I think they are called Precious day by Gotz) and quite honestly, for a very young child who hasn't been bitten by the "it has to be an AG doll" bug, I'd go that route. The 18" doll clothes fit great and unless the child has been told it's "not the same", they will love it just the same.
When my dd was 4, I gave her a Zapft doll with a wardrobe. She was slightly larger than an AG doll. She loved that doll to near death (she is still in REALLY good shape) even after I gave her my AG Felicity doll and then later, AG Kit. She had a baby doll from Costco that wore the same size as the bitty baby and again, loved it to near death. She never really got into the playing mommy thing, she just liked the idea of having the dolls dress like her and lugging them around. It even instilled a desire to learn to sew, which she can do if she has to (she's 19 now). She won a best of show for her age division at the county fair several years ago for a sundress she made for Kit.
So I say go for it for your lunch buddy and DGD. It won't be a cheap imitation. It will be a gift of love and that's what counts.