After extensive business analysis and deliberation, we will close our retail shop at the end of September, 2019. Across the country, the retail industry has experienced significant change as consumer buying preferences shift more and more to the convenience of online shopping, and GSTF is not immune to these trends. Operating a retail shop at a continuous loss year after year does not serve our mission nor does it demonstrate financial responsibility for our resources. Therefore, we will cease retail operations at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.
From now through the closing, our retail shop is stocked and ready to meet your back-to-troop needs during our regular hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, it will be open Sat., Sept. 7 and Sat., Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. The mobile shop will also be at GIRL Fest at Pinecrest Gardens Sat. Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. What’s more, all non-core items will be deeply discounted from now through the shop close.
Why are you closing the shop?
As we shared in the original email announcing the shop closing, the decision to close the shop was not taken lightly. This was a multi-year process, with great consideration given to the impacts for volunteers and staff. The retail shop has operated at a loss for the last 4+ years. The losses at the shop are not insignificant or immaterial. This year the shop will lose over $15,000, with losses the past 4 years totaling an excess of $60,000. As with any budget, there is a point where continued loss is simply not sustainable.
What have you done to try to make the shop profitable?
Over the same time period, we have challenged ourselves to make changes and improvements to the shop. These efforts include fully remodeling the space, offering mobile shop, extending shop hours on weekends and evenings, taking the shop on the road/pop-up shop at council events, holding council activities at Choee to bring more foot traffic to the center, offering pre-sales/pre-orders before events, and more. In addition, we changed the inventory, adding more council-specific items, items at multiple price-points, promotional sales, etc. Despite these efforts, the store continued to lose money – all the while online sales increased.
Why online only? What about shipping costs?
Moving to an online only store aligns our activities with trends in the retail industry. Consumer preferences both in and out of Girl Scouts has moved solidly into online sales. As our retail traffic has declined over the years, online purchases from within our council jurisdiction has increased. The online shop offers free shipping for all orders over $99. Shipping for smaller orders begins as low as $4.99. This is less than the cost of gas and time to come to the shop. Also, keep an eye out for shipping promotions. Just last week shipping was free at $49. The online shop runs regular sales and offers – on shipping, discounts, coupons and more.
What about Tropical Florida patches? Camp patches? How can I get those?
Our Tropical Florida patch, camp patches, and some other council specific items will be available online.
What about the shop staff?
Regarding the personnel assigned to the shop, the retail shop position will be eliminated. Again, this is not a decision made lightly. Closing the shop is a move to stabilize our financial position to better serve girls and volunteers. Given the losses at the shop, there are no resources available to support maintaining this position.
When can I shop between now and September 30?
During the month of September, the shop will be open during regular hours (9-5, M-F) and two Saturdays (Sept 7 and 14, from 10:00-2:00), and we will have the mobile shop at the GIRL Fest. Many items are already marked down, so this is a great time to stock up for the coming year.