Here’s a morsel of joy that couldn’t come at a better time: It’s Girl Scout cookie season.
For many, the annual arrival of Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, and other treats marks a sweet respite from winter. But this year the event, like most everything else, has been reshaped by the pandemic.
So instead of going door-to-door to sell boxes of treats, Girl Scouts have had to get creative. Instagram posts, TikToks, and even a few old-school tactics have been the marketing methods of choice for Scouts throughout the region.
“Our girls are amazing. They’re running a small business . . . and they’re really doing it in a way that we haven’t seen them do before,” said Catríona Taylor, chief executive of the Eastern Massachusetts Girl Scout Council.
The council, which includes Boston, implemented a three-phase plan for selling cookies this year.
Phase 1 only permitted online sales through a scout’s personalized cookie link or the regional online cookie connector. Phase 2 allows scouts to run drive-through cookie booths and make contactless deliveries. Phase 3 allows girls to make socially distanced booth sales and some house sales, while following local precautions.
Local Scouts entered the second phase last week. Taylor said she doesn’t know when they will be able to show off their cookies, including the new French-toast flavor Toast-Yay, at customer’s doors.
Brianna Joyce, 17, is a Girl Scout Ambassador in Quincy and was the region’s top cookie seller in 2019. As ambassadors are the highest rank in Girl Scouts, this is Brianna’s final season selling Lemonades and Peanut Butter Sandwiches.
“I’m a little disappointed, not going to lie, because this is my last year selling cookies,” Brianna said. “But I’m glad that I’m still able to sell the cookies this year.”
Although her sales are lower this year because she hasn’t been able to go to booth sales so far or carry cookies wherever she goes, Brianna has learned to use social media to drive sales. By posting her cookie link on her social profiles, she can reach many prospective buyers.
In Fabienne Eliacin’s Roxbury-based troop, nicknamed the Daring Divas, girls took to TikTok to make videos promoting their Peanut Butter Patties. Eliacin said that while sales are slower this year, she is impressed at the resolve her girls are showing and the results they are achieving, despite the challenges.
Some of her Scouts set individual goals of 500 packages or more and are on track to meet or exceed their goals by the end of cookie season, in early March.
“I didn’t anticipate seeing where the girls are right now,” she said.
At the start of cookie season, she said, her goal was to achieve half of the sales from last year. “But since the end of December, they’ve already sold as a troop over 1,000 packages of cookies.”
For Ellie Goeke’s two Winchester-based troops, online sales have been lackluster so far. By this time last year, her troops had already sold 500 packages of cookies; this year they’ve sold 150.
As a result, she’s had to help the girls turn to tactics from Goeke’s pre-Internet Scouting days — including leaving flyers for neighbors — to get Shortbread and S’mores to customers.
Despite the difficulty, Goeke said she hopes to make up lost ground when contactless booth sales begin in the coming weeks. Additionally, she wants her Scouts to remember this year as one in which they rallied around one another despite the difficult circumstances.
“My hope is that the girls will look back and see that this year, they did manage through Girl Scouts to keep a connection to the other girls that they might not see in school as frequently,” she said.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Girl Scout’s Cookies for a Cause donation program, in which customers purchase cookies for the military or frontline workers, doubled in the last year, according to Taylor, of the Eastern Mass. council.
“Even though we’re still in the beginning of our sale . . . we’re finding that a lot of people are helping their neighbors by donating,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave wrong names for some Girl Scout cookies available in this area.
Diana Bravo can be reached at Diana.Bravo@Globe.com.
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