It's that time of year again when adorable children in green, blue or brown uniforms show up at your front door, tempting you with dreams of Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, and Peanut Butter Patties. Of course, Girl Scout cookie sales are taking different forms as the coronavirus pandemic continues in 2021.
"We're following state and CDC guidelines and doing things like asking our girls to wear masks and carry hand sanitizer and be as socially distant as possible," says Devon Beck-Monahan, product sales team leader with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, who adds scouts are getting creative, using things like door hangers with their name and sale information rather than having a face-to-face interaction.
Cookie sale proceeds are used by troops to fund events, activities and experiences throughout the year. Many scouts set a sales number in order to pay for a particular goal they hope to accomplish.
"This year has really given girls the opportunity to be extra creative with their approaches," Beck-Monahan explains. "They might not be able to do their normal walk and see 200 houses in their neighborhood and talk to all of those people, so they are making commercials - digital cookie commercials - and doing door hangers, and finding new ways to connect with their customers."
Scouts are able to take sale orders online, along with digital payments as well. While online sales and payments have been available for several years, Beck-Monahan says you're likely to see more scouts taking credit cards via a mobile app this year instead of the traditional cash or check options.
The council anticipates cookie booths will be back this winter, too. Beck-Monahan says the council arranges the majority of the booth locations for troops at places like grocery stores, though some make direct arrangements. That process is underway. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio encompasses 30 counties from Cincinnati to Toledo, and Dearborn and Ohio counties in Indiana, adding up to more than 14,000 time slots at nearly 500 locations.
There will be additional guidelines in place for those booths, Beck-Monahan says, "like spacing out at the booths a little bit more; we're going to have fewer girls and leaders at each of our booths - again wearing masks, hand sanitizer, credit cards sales so we're not handling a lot of cash and checks."
Stores are asking for most of the same safety precautions the scouts already have planned, according to Beck-Monahan. One difference this year is most booths will be outside rather than inside or in store entrance areas. Locally, grocery stores are popular sale locations. WVXU reached out to Kroger about any regulations it plans but did not get a response in time for this report.
"Most of those locations are saying 'We would love to have you back, we just want to make sure that you're being safe,' " says Beck-Monahan. "If things change with the state of COVID, all of our approvals on our end and from those locations, there's a little bit of an asterisk there saying 'Yes, we're going to be there,' assuming that things stay the same or get better with COVID and things do not decline as we get later into the cookie season."