Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I almost hate to write this

But I have to. I'm going to once again compare the Girl Scouts unfavorably to the Boy Scouts. This time it has to do with their shops. Both organizations have stores near Valley Forge, about 30 minutes from here.

A couple of weeks ago my girl and I went to the Boy Scout store to find birthday gifts for the boy. It is a very cool store. Besides the Scout uniforms and such, there are books and craft kits and tools and, of course, all the merit badge handbooks. We got him a nice canteen (that was what he really wanted) a field handbook (not to be confused with the required Scout Handbook) and a t-shirt. Note that the shirt cost $7.99. That is important later.

The Girl Scout store is nearby, but we didn't have time to stop in there that day. But she wanted to see the offerings before she leaves for her Girl Scout camp this Sunday, so we went out there today. She really, really, wants a mess kit for camp (the kind in the little mesh bag) so we had to get on it. They have limited hours during the summer (unlike the BSA shop), requiring planning ahead. I had checked their online store to see what they had, but was surprised to see that it was closed. (How is an online store closed? More on that later.)

We arrived without incident (didn't get lost, which happens to me sometimes even with the GPS) and immediately on walking in were disappointed. Of course we had a vision in our heads: the BSA store, only different. It was sadly lacking.

There were no mess kits. OK, it's camp season; they're out of stock. We looked for the handbook for the level my girl will move to in September. Out of stock. They had some grooming do-dads such as one could buy in any Target or Walmart. They had t-shirts! Some really cute t-shirts. $23.95. No lie. There were a few books, but most of them were sealed so we couldn't see what they were all about. I noted a title something like Journey and a lot of "Save the Earth" type stuff.

So we asked about the mess kit and were informed that yes, they are out of stock but I can go up to another store and get it. It's 50 miles away. Uh, thanks, but never mind. I asked about the online store and the woman scoffed at me; of course it's not closed. "I'm the online store! How can an online store be closed?"

She arranged to have the far-away store send her a mess kit which might or might not arrive in time for me to get it in time for camp. No obligation on my part to pick it up if it's late. We'll check out the sporting goods store for a mess kit, or cobble one together from things we have at home, just in case.

When we got to the car, my girl sighed and voiced her disappointment. She didn't say, and of course I didn't say, how much better the BSA store is. Because she is sick of hearing all the ways the male organization is better.

As soon we got home I had to check the online store again. It is open. But there is a note about shops closing for inventory. Indeed, the online store was closed for a week. Most likely the week I checked it. (You think?) Couldn't the person in the store have said "we were closed for a week but usually are open?" If she runs the store, wouldn't she have known that?

I know at least one of you is shaking her head and saying "just dump that group." Well, as I've said before, this is what we have, now. Maybe, if we move next year (as we expect to, but kind of hope not to), we'll be close to an American Heritage Girls troop. Or, we'll feel permanent enough to start one of our own. For now, we have our nice little troop and we'll stick with them, even though it's not perfect.


SmallWorld at Home said...

If it makes you feel any better, we have to order all our stuff from the Cincinnati store. It's the only one and we pay huge shipping costs! We are hoping that the local BSA stores will start stocking AHG merchandise, as they formed a partnership of sorts last year, but no luck so far.

Marbel said...

There's still a difference. You don't have the expectation of a local store. If the GSA didn't have walk-in stores, we wouldn't expect to be able to actually buy stuff in them!