Crumbling economic conditions resulted in fewer preorders for boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs in Gwinnett, but Girl Scouts are hopeful more people will purchase their cookies as booth sales begin today.
Orders for the cookies fell by about 47,600 boxes, a nearly 8 percent drop from the 609,744 boxes presold last year in Gwinnett County, said Sarnethia Wilkinson, product sales marketing coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.
"We always do really well at booth sales," Wilkinson said.
The Lanier service unit - one of 15 such entities in Gwinnett - presold 63,660 boxes of cookies, about 12,000 fewer than last year, said Betsy Whitehead, the group's cookie manager. The service unit consists of 74 troops in Suwanee, Sugar Hill and Buford, 66 of which are selling cookies this year.
"When I was out with my daughter selling cookies, we heard everything from 'We're on a diet' to 'The economy's bad, and we're not buying as much' and 'We're not buying anything with peanut butter in it,'" despite assurances Girl Scout cookies are not affected by the peanut butter recall, Whitehead said.
Nancy Turner, the Mountain Creek service unit cookie manager, said her unit's presales are down only about 480 to 600 boxes. The group presold about 34,800 boxes.
"(Sales are) down a little bit, not a lot," Turner said.
Pre-sales for the Golden Triangle service unit this year were down 6,084 boxes, according to the unit's cookie manager, Kerry Jablonski.
Girl Scout cookie aficionados may notice their $3.50 gets them slightly less this year. Boxes of Do-si-dos and Trefoils are 1 oz. lighter, while the weight of boxes of Samoas and Tagalongs has been reduced by half an ounce, Wilkinson said.
"We really feel like the cost of transportation and the price of ingredients have all risen dramatically," said Melissa Brandon, transitional communications manager for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. "We had to make a decision to either choose to raise the price of cookies or use ... inferior, in our opinion, ingredients for cookies."
Cookie sales are the largest fundraising effort for Girl Scout troops, and the money goes toward troop activities and supports the cost of the overall Girls Scouts program in metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia.
Booth sales, which will be held throughout Gwinnett County until the end of March, are listed online at www.girlscoutsofgreateratlanta.org through the "Cookie Locator." Cookie lovers can search for booth sales by city.