Despite shuttering in-person sales in March 2020, Girl Scout troops have since taken advantage of e-commerce and contactless deliveries to bring the traditional treats back to Ithaca streets.
Last spring, Girl Scouts troops and the Cornell community alike benefited from students scrambling to buy cookies from scout-staffed booths on Ho Plaza, at Robert Purcell Community Center, at Duffield Hall and other on-campus locations.
The scouts’ business plan for the 2021 season aims to balance health and safety concerns while maintaining the iconic Girl Scout brand.
“[We] pivoted quickly last March to lead and adapt to challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jaime Alvarez, senior director of media and communications at Girl Scouts of NYPenn Pathways. “Our annual cookie program — the largest annual fundraiser for troops in our council — is no different.”
While the troops have replaced the traditional booths with drive-thru pickups and a national collaboration with GrubHub that allows for contactless delivery, there are still opportunities for interaction between patrons and their sugar-suppliers. And all proceeds from the fundraising initiative will continue to go directly to each troop to offset the costs of scouts’ badge activities and trips, according to Alvarez.
According to Beth Dewalt, co-leader of Troop 40169 in East Ithaca, troops are also able to sell directly through the Girl Scouts’ Digital Cookie site with the option of contactless delivery.
“[Scouts are] able to set the cookies on their doorstep or porch, ring the bell and step back so they can wave to their customer and chat with them but still make it contactless and safe,” Dewalt said.
Mother-daughter pair Melissa Perry and Madison Deljoo expect to dedicate around four hours a week offering Girl Scout cookie drive-thru pickup at locations in Ithaca and Dryden. Deljoo, a freshman in high school, has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, and Perry has been involved with the scouts for 33 years.
“[Virtual sales] are simpler in a way, with people ordering online, because you’re not having to manage the money aspect of it so much,” Perry said. “But there’s a lot of benefit to learning those skills, being a little more tech savvy and navigating the sales in a more virtual and a more modern way.”
“I’m taking away a lot with sending emails, learning how to run a business on a website and how it works,” Deljoo echoed.
For scouts and their parents, the transition to virtual cookie sales builds on recent developments to accept Venmo as payment — especially for cashless college students. And it has brought challenges and rewards as they ensure that the local community can get their hands on precious boxes of Samoas, Thin Mints and other fan-favorites.
“When you are having those in-person cookie booths, you are really developing skills as a salesperson,” Perry said. “A definite downfall is losing out on hearing the stories people share about their experiences, which is really unfortunate because, personally, my favorite part of the cookie booths is meeting other scouts.”
The Ithaca cookie season will run from Feb. 11 until Mar. 28, while GrubHub deliveries will wrap up on Mar. 21.