Girl Scouts around New Jersey are coming up with creative ways to sell cookies during their annual sale despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Troops that are part of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore are using new methods, including drive-thru booths, lemonade stands, personalized websites and walkabouts, according to CEO Eileen Higgins.

"They're going around door-to-door not seeing anyone but leaving a door hanger that has some information including a QR code that would get you to their digital site so that you can order cookies, pay for them and they can leave them on your front porch so it's all contactless," Higgins told New Jersey 101.5.

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Higgins said the digital sites were introduced in 2020 and have grown this year. The council website and app will help customers locate where and when cookies are being sold.

Lemonade stands set up in a front yard with neighborhood signs pointing the way have also proven popular with some troops, as have drive-thru set up at a business or mall.

"You don't even get out of your car, you tell them what you want, contactless payment and the cookies are put into your car," Higgins said.

Booth sales at stores have returned on a smaller scale after being put on hold in 2020 as the pandemic got underway, according to Higgins, who said stores have been generous in letting Scouts and their parents set up again.

Increased use of the website also helped create another program in which a business can buy out the cookie booth from a random troop member. The program started last year and was continued at the request of many troop members.

"The businesses wanted to give back. If you don't want to eat the cookies, no judgement on our part. We understand not everyone wants to eat them. You can donate them to the military, the food bank. Each troop decides where they'd like theirs to go," Higgins said. "But then businesses are giving them out as a reward or a thank you or delivering them to first responders

Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey with troops in Bergen, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and northern Warren counties has teamed up with Grubhub to deliver orders starting Saturday and give the girls experience in managing e-commerce. They will have access to Grubhub's backorder technology to track orders.

"This partnership allows our Girl Scouts to experience the full meaning of being an entrepreneur – one of the core pillars of being a Girl Scout – and gain back-end insights into the Girl Scout Cookie Program that they do not typically receive through the traditional selling methods,” council president and CEO Betty Garger.

Higgins said scouts have been able to continue their activities even with pandemic restrictions.

"The girls have really shown us how to have events. We have them on our properties safely. We've built shelters. The girls met all through the winter, even through the snowstorms, and did outdoor activities together as a troop," Higgins said.

An event on March 21 is the Top Cookie competition in which chefs from four Jersey Shore restaurants will create desserts using Girl Scout cookies to be judged by a panel.

One of the chefs,  David Burke from Iron Chef America, will also do a live session with the girls, giving them the chance to earn a badge at the same time.

By the way, the most popular flavor of cookie continues to be Thin Mints.

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