Janelle Bitker wrote an article Tuesday for the San Francisco Chronicle about how the Girl Scouts’ new partnership with DoorDash is preventing some girls from being able to sell as many cookies as usual. The problem is this: A select number of girl scouts in the Bay Area, those who are in the fourth grade and up, have been able to sell their cookies through DoorDash this year while other scouts have continued to sell the cookies in person or through the Girl Scouts website.
The advantage that the girls who are using DoorDash have over their fellow scouts is one of cold market forces. Cookies that are sold through the organization’s official website can be shipped nationwide within 15 business days for $12.99. But the cookies that are sold through DoorDash can be delivered on the same day for just $3.99. The speed and low cost at which the cookies can be moved through DoorDash, combined with a labor shortage at a Kentucky bakery, has made it difficult for some of the non-DoorDash scouts to restock their own supply of cookies. This sucks for them, because cookie sales are how many scout troops pay their field trips and other fun activities.
The scouts who are using DoorDash, however, are having a great time:
For Solnit’s daughters, Arrow and Miri, the DoorDash program has been a hit. It’s now their preferred way to sell cookies. On a busy Saturday, they sold 250 boxes, comparable to the result of a prime slot outside a popular grocery store, Solnit said. But they love the fast pace and the technology, she said, like the dinging sound when an order comes in.San Francisco Chronicle
What these girls, through no fault of their own, are probably not spending any time thinking about is exactly why cookies can be sold so much faster and cheaper through DoorDash than they can be through more traditional means. That’s always been the allure of the gig economy: everything you want can be had cheaply and immediately, so long as you are willing to overlook the lonely and exploited workers who make the whole thing possible.
This sucks! Girl scouts should not be losing cookie-selling competitions because their peers get to take advantage of an app alliance that isn’t available to everyone. Sure, the cookie sales have always been skewed. Troops that can afford to have parents out there selling cookies with them all week have a distinct advantage over troops that don’t, but none of what this article lays out seems, well, fun.
The Girl Scouts have always had a discomfiting relationship with capitalism. By my house there are a few dispensaries within a block of each other. Every year since Washington, D.C. decriminalized weed, a few entrepreneurial girl scouts arrive with their green-skirted table, stacks of colorful cookies, and signs that say, “We Take Venmo!” They position themselves strategically near the dispensaries and bars on weekend afternoons. This has always delighted me, even though I know this is probably how a lot of young girls first learn about the concept of supply and demand and begin their indoctrination into the capitalist economy. But it’s adorable! Look at these cute girl scouts with their cookies taking advantage of silly adults who are weak! “What suckers!” I think as I hand the girl scouts cash for my thin mints and walk away happily.
Those girls are, I hope, having some fun hanging out on a Saturday with their friends and trying to sell cookies to the dozens of new people they meet. It’s much harder to find anything redeeming about this DoorDash arrangement, which only further subtracts any sense of industriousness or community-building from the whole cookie selling business, all while throwing into sharper relief everything that was already kind of icky about girl scout cookies.