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Girl Scouts' cookie season delayed by COVID-19 concerns

Girl Scouts' cookie season delayed by COVID-19 concerns

Girl Scouts' cookie season delayed by COVID-19 concerns
Girl Scout Lily Splendido of Niskayuna holds her cookie menu on Thursday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Cookie fans will wait longer for their Tagalongs, Trefoils and Samoas this spring.

The cookies are part of the Girl Scouts' annual roster of boxed sweets -- and all brands have been benched as the nation observes precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Mary Buszuwski, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, said Girl Scouts traditionally begin cookie deliveries and sales in March. This year, she is hoping the first bunches of cookies will be delivered in late April.

"First and foremost is the safety of our girls and the safety of our community and the customers who order cookies," Buszuwski said. "Given what's been asked by the state government on the separation, the distance we that we need from each other and not come into touch with each other for a period of time, we thought this was the prudent thing to do to ensure safety of girls as well as the community."

The season started in February, when young businesswomen began taking orders from their friends and families.

"That probably represents 70 to 80 percent of the cookies we sell," Buszuwski said. "The rest of the cookies, people know about our booths at different locations."

The northeastern zone, which includes about 8,500 girls in 900 troops in 15 counties from Columbia and Greene Counties north to Plattsburgh and the Canadian border, is a major cookie territory. Scouts in Schenectady, Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs and other communities, Buszuwski said, sold 986,000 boxes in 2019.

The first shipment of 940,000 boxes for this year -- which includes the chocolate and peanut butter Tagalongs, shortbread Trefoils and caramel- and coconut-covered Samoas -- already have been received. Buszuwski said the big batch has been stored in a climate-controlled Capital Region warehouse.

The sales delay will not represent a financial problem for the Scouts. Little Brownie Bakers of Louisville, Ky., which manufactures most of the Girl Scout cookies nationally, will receive payment once the boxes move out of storage.

"The way the contract is, until we start to distribute the cookies, we don't owe any money on them," Buszuwski said. "As long as they're in the warehouse -- and the baker actually helps to pay for that warehousing locally -- so once those cookies leave the warehouse, then we own them  and need to start paying the baker for them. At the moment, we don't need to do that. So that kind of helps the situation quite a bit."

Buszuwski, who answered questions in a phone interview from her home, said Girl Scouts have closed their local offices until Monday, April 20. She's hoping the first boxes of cookies will be distributed to Scouts on Saturday, April 25. 

"We're just going to sit tight and hold on to these cookies until we get what I call the 'all-clear' from New York State that we can come out," Buszuwski said. "If we need to go a little bit longer, we certainly will do that."

Buszuwski knows girls in her troops are disappointed with recent, life-altering events.

"At this point it's about safety and hopefully as Girl Scouts they understand that," she said. "We are fully intending to do the cookie program, it's just going to be a bit later."

Lily Splendido will be ready. Splendido, 12, a member of Niskayuna Troop 2537, laments her March delivery schedule has been postponed.

"I think it's disappointing because every year my customers look forward to getting them," said Splendido, a seventh grader at Van Antwerp Middle School. "However, keeping everybody healthy and safe is the top priority and when the pandemic is under control, they'll have something sweet to look forward to."

Splendido ordered 217 boxes. Her best sellers are Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs.

Eventually, the cookies will roll out.

"We're hopeful the public is going to be understanding of that and I suspect they will be," Buszuwski added. "We've always gotten really good support from the community."

Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

 

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