No More Samoas on The Sidewalk: Girl Scouts Banned From Selling Cookies Outside The Founder’s Home

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(UPDATED: March 2, 2011) Good news for the Girl Scouts! Following vocal criticism of the ban, City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney announced that she was able to grant the Girl Scouts an exemption to the ban, which will allow them to continue to sell their delicious cookies outside Ms Low’s house.  So the residents of Savannah can breathe a sigh of relief … and then race down to the famous sidewalk for a box (or five) of cookie goodness. The previous report is below.

A sad day for Georgia’s Girl Scouts: their biggest money-making spot is now strictly off-limits. Well Thanks-A-Lot, city council! (See what we did there?)

This time last year, the street outside Juliette Gordon Low’s house was busy with cookie-selling girls and the hundreds of customers they served with their daily dose of Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos.  The spot used to be a gold mine for the Girls Scouts. They could sell about 250 boxes in three hours outside the historic home, with all the proceeds going to charity. But as the old saying goes, all good things come to an end. And this is a particularly ironic end.

(More on See recipes for our favorite Girl Scout cookies)

A complaint filed last year has now come in to effect, stopping the Girl Scouts from selling their famous cookies outside the Savannah home of Low, the founder of the almost century-old organization. But the busy intersection of Bull Street and Oglethorpe Avenue is now a no-sell zone for the Girl Scouts, who have fallen foul of the law against peddling on public sidewalks.

In a bid to save their sidewalk sweeties, the city’s leaders have been looking for ways around the ruling.  The city’s zoning administrator, Randolph Scott, looked at alternatives, such as some private space between the home and the sidewalk or using the courtyard to the side of the house. But both these attempts proved fruitless, with the latter ruled out due to fire hazard concerns.

“I know it doesn’t look good,” Mr Scott said, “However, other businesses won’t care if it’s the Girl Scouts or March of Dimes. They’re going to say, ‘Why can’t I sit out front and solicit business?'”

(More on Read about how the Girl Scouts are faring in the recession)

Van Johnson, a city Alderman, said the council should consider a temporary exception for the cookie season, to allow Girl Scouts to peddle their wares outside the founder’s home. “Juliette Low brings thousands of tourists from around the country. Juliette Low is known for Girl Scouts, and Girl Scouts are known for cookies,” he said, “Let’s be reasonable. Let them sell their cookies.”

But it seems like he’s fighting a losing battle for the khaki-clad cookie sellers, even Jan McKinney, the head of product sales for the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, accepts the ruling as merely a lesson in dealing with change. “We try to teach them that in business you have to adjust to things that happen, adapt to the market and follow the law,” she said. “It’s a real-world experience.”

Let’s just hope the short-changed Girl Scouts feel the same way … there are going to be far fewer cookie patches to go round in Savannah now that Ms Low’s pavement is Thin Mint free.

(More on Read about what happened to a Thin Mint thief in Florida)