Seeking your shortbread fix? Amid COVID, Girl Scouts turn to online cookie sales, in-person delivery

Mountlake Terrace Girl Scout Lily delivering cookies ordered online. (Photos courtesy Cherry Smith)

From door hangers and car magnets to personalized online profiles and free in-person delivery, Girl Scouts across Washington state — including those in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace — are doing what it takes to deliver cookies to an eager community.

Like many other entrepreneurs, Girl Scout troops have been learning how to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Girl Scouts of Western Washington, that means turning to online profiles to sell their cookies through online storefronts called Digital Cookie.

Using digital storefronts, troops can display pictures, videos and a summary about what they plan to do with the proceeds from their cookie sales. Girls can also write about what they’ve learned from selling cookies.

“Girl Scouts have been really going above and beyond this year considering every obstacle they have,” said Senior Brand Marketing Director Vannessa Blea. “They’ve been doing a lot of really great things to get the word out since they can’t go out and talk to people like they normally would.”

Another shipping option is Cookie Finder. By entering a ZIP code into Cookie Finder, customers can opt to have cookies shipped directly to an address or donated to the Girl Scout’s donation program Operation Cookie.

Sisters Leah and Clara getting ready to put out door hangers for Girl Scout cookie orders.

Additionally, local scouts have been distributing door hangers in neighborhoods with physical order forms. Customers can also support a Girl Scout by buying cookies from them directly.

The annual Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest Girl Scout-led entrepreneurial program for girls in the world. Through the program, Blea said young girls learn business skills, like money management, business ethics and leadership.

Typically, cookie sales have two phases — presale and public sale. In past years, the program has been a tool used during presale to sell cookies to friends and family. Now, it’s been expanded to use the digital storefront to market cookies online to everyone.

Blea noted that while Girl Scouts in the area move into remote sales, that may not be the case in other parts of the state. According to Blea, decisions made by other scout councils in Washington depend on their COVID-19 phasing and local public health advice.

“Some regions have Girl Scouts selling in-person, but not the same way they would have sold in-person,” she said. “We’ve gone completely digital.”

The website has been live for presale since January. As troops transitioned to online sales, Edmonds resident Cherry Smith — who leads Troop 46645 — said presales have been higher in 2021 than any she could recall.

“It’s been interesting because we’ve had a lot more initial sales,” she said.

For the past week, girls have been picking up their cookie orders to prepare for distribution in early March. Usually, cookies are picked up around President’s Day weekend, but Smith said minor delays have set the deliveries behind by one week.

“Our initial orders have been a lot more upfront and then we’re distributing very slowly,” she said.

Mackenzie from Mountlake Terrace bundling cookie orders.

For the past 15 years, Smith said she has been involved with the Girl Scouts. She currently has one daughter involved and heads a troop of 16 girls from Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. She said 14 of her Girl Scouts have created online storefronts.

“They have had a lot of positive sales,” she said.

Last year, Smith said her daughter sold 250-300 orders during presales, which she said has been an average amount for her daughters over the years. This year, Smith said her daughter’s goal is to sell 1,000 boxes and has already sold 400.

“That’s majority online sales and that is something that has not ever happened for us before,” she said.

Girl Scout Cookies will be available for sale through March 21. To review ordering options, visit the Girl Scouts of Western Washington website.

— By Cody Sexton

 

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