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Girl Scouts persevere during pandemic

<p>The pandemic made selling cookies difficult this year for the Girl Scouts so some girls got creative.</p>

The pandemic made selling cookies difficult this year for the Girl Scouts so some girls got creative.

As winter begins to disappear, many find themselves with a familiar craving: Girl Scout cookies. But this year, Girl Scouts have found new challenges in trying to meet the community’s craving for cookies. 

KayAnn Rutter is the director of marketing and communications for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio (GSWO). She said girls are using more digital tools than they had in the past. 

“Girls are adapting their sales methods and created socially distant and contact-free ways to keep themselves and their customers safe,” Rutter said. 

The digital cookie platform started in 2014, and Rutter said it has continued to grow, especially after the pandemic began.

“But the digital cookie platform … was very popular this year, so a lot of people were able to order and pay online and have cookies either shipped or delivered,” Rutter said. 

Despite the rise in online use, Rutter said cookie sales have still been down. But she said cookie lovers have until March 14 to make their orders.

Emily Neal and her daughter Mackenzie have been part of Girl Scouts for about five years. 

Emily noticed the website required a four-box minimum for cookies ordered online. If customers wanted the boxes delivered, there was a subsequent delivery fee. 

They said cookie selling has been slow this year. 

“I've had less than we had last year, I know that for a fact,” Mackenzie said.

But Girl Scouts weren’t limited to just selling online. 

Rutter said girls were still allowed to go door-to-door and have booths as long as girls wore masks and remained socially distant. 

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Abby Wilson and her mom Katie have been members of Girl Scouts for three years. They’ve found that after the pandemic, it was a little easier to find people who wanted cookies.

“Almost everyone was home,” Abby said.

Abby said she used door hangers with a link to her online website when people didn’t answer the door. 

Abby sold about 400 boxes going door-to-door, and Katie said the girls hosted two booths in front of the Beta House.

“We sold a good amount of cookies that way,” Katie said. “It was really nice of them to let us do that.”

Katie said they also had a booth at a KDS gas station and were surprised at the turnout. 

“I think it was a little easier because there were a lot more people because everyone's trying to exercise and all that, so a lot of people walk around,” Abby said.

Abby said last year she sold about 600 boxes. This year, her goal is 1,000.

Devlin Smith, senior public health administration major, said he bought four boxes from Abby. 

“It’s just kind of refreshing to just see that nothing's really changed from like the Girl Scout program,” Smith said. “Nothing's changed, and even through the pandemic, they're doing the best they can to keep everything the way it was.”

While Rutter said the pandemic has created some challenges, GSWO has seen some innovative ideas when it comes to selling cookies. 

“We have one very creative girl here in Cincinnati who set up a cookie vending machine on her front porch,” Rutter said. 

The girls who sell cookies learn five essential skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Rutter said troops use cookie sales to pay for group trips and community projects.

“When you buy Girl Scout cookies, you're supporting Girl Scouts and empowering amazing experiences and life-changing opportunities for them for the rest of the year,” Rutter said.