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.