BY JIM LOCKWOOD
The coronavirus crisis curbed some Girl Scout cookie sales and deliveries.
In early March, Girl Scout troops from throughout Northeast Pennsylvania had hundreds of thousands of boxes of Girl Scout cookies delivered by the truckload. Troop members, leaders and parents picked up their orders during drive-up “cookie drop” events at various spots throughout the region.
By mid March, the COVID-19 outbreak led to social distancing that curbed some of the more traditional sales and delivery methods. The Girl Scouts of the USA organization recommended to councils across the country that they suspend in-person deliveries of cookies from individual Scouts to customers, as well as suspend on-site “cookie booth” sales in high-traffic areas.
“The outbreak of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is the very definition of an unplanned crisis, and while there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the virus itself, what is abundantly clear is that it has never been more important for Girl Scout leadership to take bold and decisive action. Our chief priority is the health and safety of our girls, families, volunteers and staff,” Girl Scouts USA said in a March 16 announcement. The statement noted that digital online sales methods that began over two years ago could continue.
Just nine days earlier, on March 7, tractor-trailers delivered 94,416 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in 7,868 cases, with each case having 12 boxes of cookies, to a parking lot at PNC Field in Moosic for a cookie drop to many troops in the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization.
And this was just one of several cookie-drop distributions at that time held throughout the region. Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania serves more than 16,000 Girl Scouts across 30 counties in Central and Northeast Pennsylvania. The northeast territory includes Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Pike, Monroe, Wyoming, Susquehanna and Carbon counties.
So, while troops have had their orders in-hand, the process got disrupted when in-person deliveries and cookie-booth sales were put on hold, said Jessica Mislinski of Dunmore, regional director for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.
Some troops had started holding cookie-booth sales during the following weekend of March 13-15, before the suspensions, she said. During the past few weeks, “things have changed tremendously,” she said of the pandemic’s impact on society.
“We’re just taking it day-by-day and trying to figure out what’s best for our girls, our troops, our cookies,” Mislinski said. “My daughter is a Girl Scout, so I have a room filled with Girl Scout cookies right now. We’ve let our customers know that there will be a delay” in delivering their orders.
They’ve turned a small sitting room in their home into an impromptu pantry, storing 200 boxes of cookies, she said.
Mislinski hopes the situation spurs Scouts to host “virtual cookie booths” and promote digital online sales options through social media avenues.
With social interaction curtailed, Scouts are increasing their use of the digital online sales method, sending outreach emails to friends and families and posting their online sales efforts in private online groups, the GSHPA said in a March 25 announcement. Scouts who use the digital online sales method do so with parental/guardian assistance and practice online safety protocols, according to GSHPA.
“Like millions of entrepreneurs across the country, Girl Scouts are being called upon to adapt and adjust their business model to seize new ways to connect with customers,” the GHSPA said.
In a time of unprecedented constraints, connecting supply with demand will require some creativity.
“We’re working on different ideas every single day. A lot of our girls in our troops are very creative and I’m sure will come up with creative ways” to adapt, Mislinski said. “We do have lots of boxes of cookies to be sold. Customers still want their Girl Scout cookies.”
Girl Scout cookies can be bought through a Digital Online Cookie platform, according to the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization.
Customers can order once they have received a link from a Girl Scout to access her Digital Online Cookie page.
Each Scout can customize her page to share what her goals are and how she and her troop intend to use their cookie program proceeds.
To place an order, email MemberServices@gshpa.org to be matched with a local troop and connect with a local Girl Scout who will send her Digital Online Cookie link directly to the customer.
If customers want cookies fast, they can select direct shipping for a fee.
Customers also can donate cookies to Soldier’s Angels, an organization that supports military women, men and their families, by selecting this donation option when placing an order. These donations do not require shipping fees.
Also without incurring a shipping fee, customers can request in-person delivery, although in-person deliveries will have to wait until travel and social distancing restrictions are lifted.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5185