Savannah bans Girl Scouts' cookie sales at founder's historic home

by Jane Briggs-Bunting

In the “you’ve got to be kidding department,” Savannah, Georgia area Girl Scouts and brownies can no longer sell their cookies in front of the Juliette Gordon Low Home. Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts of America.

Why? Because under a Savannah ordinance, the cookie sale is considered street peddling, a violation. The ordinance reads: “Sec. 4-1001. To be used for public purpose only. No person shall use the streets, sidewalks, lanes or squares of the city for private purposes of any sort. They shall be used only as public ways and for the public purposes for which they are intended.”

There is not enough room on the historic home’s property on the corner of Oglethorpe and Bull Streets for the girls not to be on the sidewalk. That it’s a great place to sell the cookies is without doubt. Local scout leaders report the girls can sell up to 250 boxes in three hours on a good weekend. Cookie sales are a major fund raiser for Girl Scouts nationwide, and those Thin Mints are addictive, at least to me.

The Low home gets tens of thousands of visitors annually, and many Girl Scouts make the pilgrimage to the home of the woman who founded the group back in 1912. When the home, which remained in the Gordon family for generations, fell into disrepair and was slated for the wrecking ball in 1953, the Girl Scouts of America organization stepped in, purchasing the home and restoring it to what had been one of the most fashionable homes in Savannah in the 19th Century. Part of the purchase included original furnishings. In 1965, the home was among the first group listed by Congress as a National Historic Landmark.

The cookie sales are popular with tourists, but a complaint filed last year, obviously by some Scrooge or rival group, put an end to it. Both Savannah’s City Manager and the Savannah area Girl Scout leadership have tried to find a loophole. None existed.

Fortunately, a local council member is now planning to introduce a variance that would put the cookie sales back in business. Hopefully, in this instance, common sense will prevail.

10 replies »

  1. If they do make an exception, it should be “Street peddling is legal in front of the Low Home” and not “We give special permission to this group and only this group, because they’re little girls and it makes us look like bastards if we don’t.”

  2. It is, isn’t it? A group dedicated to teaching young women about good citizenship is whining for special favors. Guess they’re supposed to be learning the classic American virtue of “it’s okay as long as you can get away with it.”

    In any case, I see a portico with two staircases which might possibly accommodate a cookie table, and there’s apparently a gift shop inside. Perhaps they could waive ticket fees to the shop only and let different troops take turns at a counter? You know, solve their own problem without wasting the time of the city council? Or would that be inconvenient?

  3. That’s still pretty special. How about limited hours during low-traffic times for peddling in front of tourist attractions in general?

  4. Ok, WTF I see a few people who commented need special medical attention to help remove the stick firmly implanted in that special place. How about getting a clue. If your that uptight about following every single rule, law, regulation and stipulation currently on the books in the U.S. start with your self. Currently there are 3 million laws on the books. More than likely your breaking one right now. If you have ever left your home for any reason you more than likely have broken several. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, according to the courts. There just comes a time when some things just need to be overlooked. Christ I would hate to see what Ann would do to some kids lemonade stand. Let me guess, Life with no possibility of parole. When did we as a country become so uptight? Who is the victim in the crime above? Does it really bother you that much to see girl scouts selling cookies? What sad, petty people you must be in real life.
    Petty attitude 1, Common sense 0

  5. Oh no. A Scrooge like me? First thing you know I’d be “banning” people letting their dogs crap on the sidewalk without picking it up. Of course, if it’s already an ordinance, I’d probably have to bow to pressure to make a special exception for the sidewalks in front of the Low home.

  6. Oh God, yes! Yes, I hate Girl Scouts selling cookies. Sometimes I just walk up to those adorable smiling faces behind stacks of Thin Mints and start screaming obscenities. Goddamned little capitalist stooges. I hate them. HATE THEM. In fact, the only way to appease me is to feed me Samoas until I collapse… and even then, I’ll probably try to kick any Brownie within foot reach. Wait – would that be against the law? It’s only one little kid; why be so damn anal about it?

    Wyatt, you’re apparently kind of special yourself, but here’s a version of what I said in very short words: if you don’t like the way something is, how about trying to make it better for everyone instead of asking for a special favor? Try, Wyatt. Try hard to think about what the word “petty” means. Here, I’ll help. It means “worried about only your own interests.” Gee, isn’t that kind of what’s happening with the docents of the Low house? I think I said – oh, yeah, there it is right up there – that a wider, more community-minded solution would be a Nice Thing. Something for more than one group. Non-petty.

    Of course, hysterically inaccurate headlines like “Big Bad Meanies Pass Extra Special Poopyhead Ban on Girl Scout Cookie Sales OMGWTF!!!” are upsetting, Wyatt. But sometimes we have to put on our big boy brains and think past them. You can do it.