This year Girl Scouts are thinking outside the cookie box when it comes to peddling their famed treats.
Typically, troops hold booth sales outside supermarkets and girls send order sheets to work with their parents, who circulate them to colleagues during the cookie season, which started in December and lasts through March. But concern over COVID-19 has put a damper on public sale options and working from home has drastically reduced contact with co-workers.
So, the girls are going full-on digital.
Cookie sales will be primarily online for 2021, says Rande Bynum, chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. "The pandemic started at the end of cookie season last year, so we learned to pivot pretty early on," Bynum says. "All across the country Girl Scouts are being super creative figuring out how to get cookies to people. This is a time when everyone needs some cookies, right? We can’t get rid of the pandemic, but we can help you feel good for a while with some Thin Mints."
Olivia Phillips, 13, of Mastic, has been Suffolk County’s top-selling scout for the past six years, one year selling 6,500 boxes. She’s got some plans for how to retain her title hawking the eight varieties of cookies for $5 a box.
"I’m going to make a video to send to my family and friends," Phillips says. She’ll tell them about her favorite cookies — she’s partial to the Toffee-tastics, which are gluten-free, buttery cookies with crunchy toffee bits, and to the Scouts’ most popular flavor, the Thin Mints.
Each Girl Scout has her own virtual cookie site link she can share with potential customers who can order, pay and have contactless delivery, either by the girl dropping the boxes on the doorstep or through shipping. Each county council can also decide whether to participate in a partnership with Grub Hub for delivery.
Phillips’ photo appears nationwide on the boxes of Do-si-Dos cookies, which are peanut butter filling sandwiched between two crunchy oatmeal cookies; she was one of the models participating in a robotics scenario. She says that as a free perk she will autograph the box for people who order those.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
Zoe Muschett, 9, of Freeport, typically sits in a booth in her front yard selling cookies to passing cars; last year she sold more than 1,000 boxes. This year, instead, she painted cookies that she put on sticks like giant lollipops to draw attention to her booth because she can’t sit out there herself. People can write in their orders or take an order sheet home with them and order online.
Girls can also generate a QR code for ordering, print it out and hang it on people’s door handles, says Jenna Kierstedt, director of sales and merchandising for the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. Zoe chose to do that as well. She’s also posting videos on her mother’s Facebook page, engaging in social media to entice buyers.
The girls already had the option of selling online in past years, but their virtual options have been beefed up in anticipation of the need to use it more heavily this cookie season. "We have more bells and whistles to support them this year," Bynum says.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Olivia Eger, 11, of Holbrook, says she has mixed feelings about the change in cookie selling. "It’s a mix of disappointment and kind of relief because I know that COVID, it really just spreads, and I want to be careful with that. I’m also disappointed because I really want to sell cookies, as many as I can." She sold 200 boxes last cookie season, she says.
The Scouts are hoping their sales won’t drop too much this year, as the pandemic has made people more accustomed to ordering items online. And the pivot to virtual sales offers a learning experience for the scouts, Bynum says.
"It is an entrepreneurial program," Bynum says, in addition to being a fundraiser for the troops. "We’re just really trying to figure out how to do this differently. Like all of the other small businesses, the girls are trying to figure out a new way."
HOW TO ORDER
Worried about getting your Girl Scout cookie fix this year? You can find an online order option here: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies/How-to-Buy.html