Derby Troop

Members of Derby Troop 41319 (pictured from left to right) Lily Shields, Allison Wagoner, Olivia Witten and Leianna Otterbein set up a booth at Atwoods to sell cookies over the weekend. With extra precautions, in-person booths are still being operated by Girl Scouts for their traditional cookie sale – while a number of contactless sales methods have also been added amidst the pandemic.

Benjamin Franklin famously claimed that there are only two things that are certain in life, death and taxes. An amendment may need to be made, as the traditional Girl Scouts cookie sale prepares to march on amidst the current pandemic.

Direct cookie sales for the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland began Feb. 12 and will continue through March 28. While traditional in-person and door-to-door sales will be held as they have in the past, additional outlets have been added to allow Girl Scouts to be as cautious as they want.

“What we’re trying to do is give our parents and girls a lot of different options, so we’ve set up a drive-thru booth at Kohl’s, some in-person regular booths at Atwoods and they can also of course sell online. We’re really pushing that this year,” said Christina Witten, cookie manager for Derby Troop 41319.

“This year, we’ve done a greater job of making sure the girls understand how to use their online, digital store,” said Muriel Boyce, director of communications and marketing for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. “The money transactions can all take place digitally, so if the girl and the consumer don’t even want to mess with payment in person they don’t have to.”

Online sales have been offered for a few years now, according to Boyce, but that market has been enhanced this year to allow for direct shipping to customers as well as scheduled drop-offs – creating contactless cookie delivery options.

Having a focus on online sales, Witten noted national leadership made it so that all troops can accept credit card payments this year – a new tool that saves troops from paying processing fees for using a Square card reader.

Boyce noted that the Girl Scouts will be following all local safety guidelines during sales, with the decision on how cookies are sold ultimately left up to parents and caregivers – whether marketing online, hosting drive-thru booths or continuing door-to-door operations. Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland is also partnering with GrubHub to offer deliveries in the Wichita area.

Last year, the cookie sales went on almost entirely as normal – with only the last two weeks cut off due to the pandemic. Boyce said weekly sales remained at similar levels as previous years, though there were a lot more purchases through the Care and Share program – where businesses can purchases cookies that are then given back to the Girl Scouts for donations. Many of those were delivered to frontline workers in 2020. Both Boyce and Witten expect those sales numbers to remain relatively unchanged once again.

“At this point in time, I’m actually not too worried about that. My son, he’s in Cub Scouts, and he had his best popcorn-selling year ever,” Witten said. “I think a lot of people are anxious to have some sort of normalcy so maybe that’s encouraged some people to buy when maybe they didn’t in the past.”

“I think people will want to support the girls; it’s a matter of where they’ll find them,” Boyce said. “They’re not going to be as prominent in some booths as they have in the past.”

Mandates from national chains have limited where local troops can set up, with Witten noting Dillons is out this year and Wal-Mart may be as well. Troop 41319 (made up mostly of Girl Scouts from Derby) will operate booths at Kohl’s and Atwoods on weekends through March, while Witten knows another local troop will be setting up at Lowe’s as well.

Potentially boosting sales as well this year is the launch of a new cookie, the Toast-Yay, which is a french toast-inspired treat covered with icing.

“It’s been a great introduction and we’re very excited about the excitement it brings to the sale, having a new cookie,” Boyce said.

Over the past year, the Girl Scouts have handled a lot of programming virtually – offering virtual patches/badges and even hosting some virtual summer camps – so Boyce and Witten noted troops were prepared for the slightly different look in sales.

Adaptable as the cookie sale has proven, Girl Scouts will be able to engage at whatever level they feel comfortable – with Witten noting members of Troop 41319 have been looking forward to it and (eventually) reaping the rewards.

To find out more information on sales or to support local troops, visit kansasgirlscouts.org.

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