Girl Scouts

Sherry Basham and her 8-year-old daughter, Ellen, brought their Girl Scout cookie table to Abernathy's in downtown Davenport. 

Amanda Hancock, Quad-City Times

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Sherry Basham has plenty of lessons to pass on to her 8-year-old daughter, Ellen.

As a troop leader, Basham teaches her daughter, along with the dozen other girls in Troop 8416, about camping, crafts and, most importantly, how to be themselves.

"I want to see the girls have a good time and explore their individuality," Basham, of Port Byron, said. "We talk about how we should be whatever we want to be."

That even applies to the Girl Scouts’ oldest tradition: the Cookie Sale.

Citing their love of all-things old-timey, the mother-daughter pair set up a cookie table on Saturday inside Abernathy’s, the vintage clothing and accessories store in downtown Davenport. They plan to return on March 4. 

“I love everything about the vintage lifestyle and so does Ellen,” Basham said Saturday, near the end of a two-hour window of selling the signatures, such as Thin Mints and Savannah Smiles. “So we decided to do something a little bit different.”

Basham, who participated in Girl Scouts through middle school, donned an original troop leader uniform from the 1950s and Ellen created a costume of her own, complete with a 1970s bracelet from Abernathy’s. The third-grader recently learned to sew, so she also stocked up on fabrics while at the shop. She designs her own skirts and makes sweaters for her stuffed animals.

“Girl Scouts helps you grow into your own,” Sherry Basham said. “You can have all kinds of interests." 

The season of cookie sales, marked with tables outside seemingly every store, attention-grabbing signs and a variety of ploys, kicked off last week for the roughly 4,000 Girl Scouts and 1,000 volunteers around the Quad-Cities. Sales officially end March 12.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first known cookie sales by Girl Scouts, so the organization rolled out a new treat — the S’mores cookie, which Basham offered samples of on Saturday.

“It’s our busiest time of year,” said Maura Warner, the local council's communications coordinator. “You’ll probably see a cookie booth at every major retailer over the next few weekends.”

The cookie business has changed since Basham was a Girl Scout. She remembers going door-to-door around her neighborhood to meet her goal of selling 500 boxes.

Now, there are online sales, a cookie-finder app and partnerships between troops and local businesses.

“It mirrors how the business world really is today,” Warner said. “You need the online sales and the brick and mortar stores.”

Abernathy's co-owners, Becca Nicke and Red Perreze, said teaming up with the Bashams was a win-win.

"Everyone loves it," Nicke said. "It works for both of us; some people came just for cookies and others walked away with cookies that were coming in for vintage clothes.”

And, she said, it’s “nearly impossible” to say no to the cookies and the cause.

“When it comes to this time of year, it's like 'I gotta have these,” Nicke said. "Obviously other than being super delicious, it's about female empowerment."


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).