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Online sales of Girl Scout cookies skyrocket in the pandemic

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Gianna Salcedo stands in front of a house door with a clipboard.

Nine-year-old Gianna Salcedo canvasses her neighborhood in Sacramento, California, to sell Girl Scout cookies the old-fashioned way — by knocking on doors. Ana Tintocalis

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Girl Scouts Cookie season comes to a close at the end of April. Scouts across the country offering decadent treats have been working hard to meet their cookie quota since January. And now these girls have expanded their sales into the digital world. 

I’m a new Girls Scouts mom and used to be a Scout myself. I’m trying to be open-minded about the virtual cookie world, but I have some questions. My 9-year-old daughter Gianna joined Girl Scouts just a few months ago. A few nights a week, she practices her cookie sales pitch with script in hand.

Though online sales of Girl Scout cookies have taken off, Scouts — like Gianna Salcedo — still have the option of door-to-door sales. (Ana Tintocalis)

When I was a Scout in my hometown, I remember long hours spent knocking on doors and standing outside grocery stores. My goal at the time was to earn a coveted cookie patch for my sash. Looking back, I now realize that I was really building a sense of community. That’s why I feel conflicted about digital cookie sales.

My neighbor, Laura Harvey, is a retired teacher who also has fond memories of selling Girl Scout cookies door to door as a child. “You’re wearing your uniform and that was so special,” Harvey said. “You’re presenting yourself as a Girl Scout, and people respond very positively to that.” 

The move to digital sales came about five years ago as more families wanted tech-savvy ways to sell cookies, said Suzanne Olson, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California. Now, because of the pandemic, online cookie sales are skyrocketing.

Scouts learn how to organize virtual cookie booths and post their own videos on social media. “This is really the direction our world is going in,” Olson said, adding that these are skills essential for today’s entrepreneurs.

And girls can still choose to go door to door. “They’re still getting the skills that are traditional and part of what scouting has always been about,” she said. 

And so I’m slowly introducing my daughter to the virtual cookie-selling world, but we’re also hitting the pavement and knocking on doors — albeit with masks, hand sanitizer and six feet of distance.

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