No matter the years that pass, something in me feels excitement each February when the selling of Girl Scout cookies begins. My recollection hearkens back to childhood, and neighborhood girls toting stacks of cardboard boxes brimming up to their chins, chiming every doorbell and petitioning each household for a sale of their baked morsels. Years later, as I taught school and worked with children and youth for the Air Force, I was happy to be known as a soft touch for any child’s cause, so long as it was valid and needed. Hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout cookies have passed through my lips and my home through the decades, a worthy tradition I hoped to continue in retirement.
In the early days of February, when Girl Scout cookie sales begin in our region of Texas, I inquired of friends and neighbors if they knew of any set dates or locations to purchase cookies. To a person, each answered that he or she remembered where they had been a few years back, but had no idea where cookies were for sale this year. I called local Wal-Mart stores, knowing certainly the troops would be camped out front to reel in shoppers. “They may come next weekend. They don’t really tell us, they just show up” was a typical reply from managers. A local evening newscast featured a closing remark that any information a viewer needed about Girl Scout cookies was available now online.
With absolute realization that the Internet now encompasses every aspect of culture, I logged on knowing there would be all I needed to pay my money and fill my pantry. There were detailed descriptions of each variety, complete with explanations why not all varieties were available to all regions, because only certain bakeries handled certain varieties. There were links to local offices, and there I learned that my area’s office was open only three days per week, from 8:45 AM-2:30 PM. I was prompted to enter my ZIP code and e-mail address, assuring that I would be contacted about purchasing cookies as soon as possible. I, of course, complied, secure in the knowledge that I had done everything possible on my end! I received a confirmation e-mail that my e-mail had been received, but not an iota of willingness to complete a cookie purchase transaction! Considering the times in which we live, it is quite understandable that young girls are no longer permitted to roam neighborhoods with their goodies, but does buying them have to be this hard? In abject frustration, I call that office phone number, once more getting only the answering machine. I dutifully provide my information, and explain that I have completed the online submission process, too. Days pass again, and now the web site reminds me that only one more day remains to purchase cookies. I considered whether GPS tracking might help me in this quest, yet I deeply sensed that 40+ years of tradition would fall by the wayside in 2010.
That afternoon, my phone took a friendly message from a Girl Scout mom named Elaine, not only wanted to take my order, but deliver it, too! I wondered what act of Congress had hurriedly been rammed through to allow me this personal attention, but rushed to return the call. The next evening, my own boxes of Girl Scout cookies arrived with a smile at my door. I offered to add a delivery fee, but that was graciously declined. I told Elaine she could keep me on her daughter’s customer list as long as she wanted.
I look forward to enjoying Thin Mints, Caramel Delites, and Peanut Butter Patties for many weeks now, knowing that the Girl Scout tradition of the personal touch, their best marketing tool, is not gone. It just takes a little longer to get.