Why closing the Palmdale Girl Scout Store should matter to you

Girl Scouts Angelina, Abigail and Mary sit outside the now defunct Palmdale Store of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. (Contributed photo)

Local Girl Scouts Angelina, Abigail and Mary sit outside the now defunct Palmdale Store of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. (Contributed photo)

By Lancaster resident, volunteer and parent Megan Miller. Miller is co-leader of her daughter’s troop and a volunteer recruiter for the local service center.

Just last week, the Palmdale Store of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) was shut down with no notice to the local Girl Scouts, the volunteer leaders, and most importantly, the staff that worked there. It was a chance run-in between a Girl Scout parent and the very recently terminated manager of the Girl Scout store that we were made aware of this closing. If not for that, a global e-mail with a half of a sentence dedicated to the closure would have been all we knew about it.

To be clear, the Service Center with six remaining staff is still standing… for now.

In the newly remodeled building, there now sits a space full of merchandise and cheerily decorated to entice young and old. But a cloud sits over the bleak store because none of the merchandise is for sale. The store is closed indefinitely, and the only part of the building with an actual cash income is gone. Right now, the service center is one year into a five-year lease. Just last year, the home of the local Antelope Valley Girl Scouts was moved from the Lancaster Marketplace to the posh brick building off the freeway on Avenue N. At a cost of almost double the price in rent, and then lavished with premium upgrades, the move led us to believe that there were no budgetary concerns.

Mary (bottom left) sits on a brick wall by a make-shift memorial outside the store. (Contributed photo)

Mary (bottom left) sits on a brick wall by a make-shift memorial near the closed store. (Contributed photo)

Not only did they take away our valued store, GSGLA took away two members of the Antelope Valley Girl Scout family. Paula and Melinda were terminated along with the store. I’m not really sure how long they have worked there, but I’ve never met two more dedicated people that were totally committed to the girls out here.

If you had a question, they were the ones who would help.  With their help, I always found new items and was given suggestions for purchases that would help my troop. When my Girl Scout came in with me, they were nothing but supportive of her. When she asked how to get service hours, talked about her cookie sales, or was trying to decide how to spend the money she had in her wallet, they were always encouraging and loving to her.

The Antelope Valley has unique challenges that other parts of Los Angeles County do not experience. This is true for most things and scouting is no exception. As part of the GSGLA, we are at least an hour away from most events they offer.

If we want to participate with the rest of the council, we must find a way to transport 10-20 girls 40 (Santa Clarita) to 100 (Montclair) miles away from home. This includes begging parents to not only give up their weekend to drive a car full of young girls for hours, but also to spend $100 in gas to do it. Fortunately, we have amazing parents up here. Programs that have been produced by the GSGLA are never local, and it has been dependent on individual troops to host events.  With poor communication between service units, the turnout is always low. To make up for this, the GSGLA has hired a Program Specialist. They have told us that she is there to develop more “volunteer led” programs. What weighs on the minds of the volunteers is that they have laid-off two members of our family and hired a new person to make more work for us.

The reason for these lay-offs, according to the GSGLA, is purely money. Throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, membership is low, and cookie sales are low, but only one store was closed – Palmdale.

While the Santa Clarita store hours were severely cut back, only the Antelope Valley girls lost their shop and its employees. Santa Clarita is right between two stores and can drive either way, but the Palmdale store is the last store in the GSGLA boundaries that serve all the way in to Kern County. Even Ridgecrest residents make the drive to our store. Our territory is being managed by people who have no clue what it’s like out here. When they visited us [recently], they admitted that the drive was incredibly unappealing.

That brings me to the point of why everyone should care. This is another example of how the Antelope Valley is undervalued. We are not given the respect that our area deserves based on the number of people served, the distance they have to travel, and the need for leadership role models. Losing the shop is blow to any girl that needs a uniform for her meeting tonight, or a leader who added a girl and needs a Journey book for her so she can join in with her troop, or a parent who is completely lost about where to put all those badges and how to make them stay on the uniform (Paula will help you with that!).

The worst part of it all is that we weren’t given the decent courtesy of a warning. We knew shop sales were low, so we asked everyone to buy from the shop and business was picking up. We knew membership was low, and the service units were putting together recruiting events. When there was still time, we could have been told that this was happening and worked harder.

Many of the volunteers here work the equivalent of part-time and full-time jobs for the GSGLA without seeing a dime, and we’re still willing to work more. If the GSGLA was willing to be “honest and fair” or “considerate and caring” (two very important parts of the Girl Scout Law), they would give us a chance to turn the Antelope Valley around with our shop, and with our shop employees.

It hurts that we weren’t even given a fighting chance.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.

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  11 comments for “Why closing the Palmdale Girl Scout Store should matter to you

  1. AV Resident
    August 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    The way the GSGLA went about this is completely absurd. I feel sorry for the girls out here. It’s hard to find a good solid program in this area for our youth and this doesn’t help matters. I know there are still other outlets but like you mentioned they are 40-100 miles away.

  2. Iveseenitall
    August 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I feel bad for the girls. I tried to get my son in the scouts years ago but aftrt going to one of the meetings, it was SO unorganized, he couldn’t answer most of my questions, & just wanted a lot of promises and money before anything happened. I do feel really bad for the girls and would almost volenteer my services as far as rides or pick up supplies since Iwork in Hollywood. One major suggestion for better enrollment is the budy system. Allow scouts to become buddies to another child thinking of scouting. Allow them to just tag along to all events to see if it is for them without signing commitments or making them pay up front. IMHO.

    • August 27, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Sorry you had a bad experience with Scouts for your son, unfortunately that does happen more often than not, many leaders are just that volunteers and if they were just tossed into it like many are for the first time I could see why he may not of had all the answers, As far as the buddy system you mentioned unfortunately that would not work out as well as one would think mainly due to liability and insurance reasons, which is almost the same as GS. We and many of the Scout packs/troops up here always welcome new/potential scouts to come visit sit in on meetings etc. and we strongly encourage parents/scouts to attend a few meetings to see if this is something that is for them. But as far as going to events, should anything happen that child, Cub scout/Girls scout, Boy scout would not be covered under the units tour permit and insurance. So unfortunately at that point in the game it is almost a necessity to collect enrollment fees for the Scouts, and depending on what the event is payment for that as well. Scout packs up here be it GSGLA or BSA all suffer money issues within the troops/pack etc. in order to put on quality programs money must be spent and in many cases I know for a fact leaders like my wife and I have dipped into our pockets more times than not to cover cost or help a scout or two attend some of the wonderful outings. We can not honestly charge what it would cost to run these meetings including quality outings. if we did no kids would ever sign up due to cost. unfortunately we as leaders of these Packs/Troops have our hands tied since we have no control over cost to attend camps/sleepovers etc. Seaworld for example for a scout overnight is about $125.00 per person to attend and you need a min. of 25 people for it.and depending on the age of the Scouts most times a parent or guardian has to attend with them so the cost multiples. The larger the troop/pack the easier it is to get group pricing but most units up here do not meet those numbers. We every year wrestle with how to keep cost down with-in our Pack, knowing tat it is a delicate balance for all. I feel very badly for those girls who may still loose this vital store, and even worse for the parents who dedicate there time to offer these functions. they will now be hard pressed as to what they should do! My wife and I truly hope that GSGLA will see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow not filled with money but with need, the need to keep this service center up here fully functional and open!

  3. deb beckwith
    August 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    thank you ladies for all you do to help our girls.
    my daughter has been a GS in th AV since she was in
    daisys, she is now a Senior. The points you bring
    up here are true. I hope the people who made the
    decision to close our store, will reconsider.

  4. Ruth Nettelhorst
    August 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Very well-written article. Really hit the important points. One thing that was not mentioned is that the “executives” called a last minute meeting at the Girl Scout office tomorrow from 10:30am to 12:30pm. Well, since we are volunteers, most of us have jobs! We cannot make it to that meeting. It is viewed as a cowardly act on their part. They will come, see a few people bringing concerns and say to themselves, “See, this area doesn’t care.” This area does care, we just have to be at work! Equity. What happened to equity! Have a day meeting and a night meeting. We will pack the place out!

    • Megan
      August 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      They did ask us when it would be better for everyone and Jennifer and I both told them evenings would be better.

  5. August 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Wow is all I could think of when my wife(who has been a leader since the daisy years some 7 – 8 years ago) always talked how great the ladies in the shop were. This is very weird that GSGLA would just lock them out and let them go with out any notice or anything, what kind of message does that send to our youth? or better yet to the dedicated leaders who give up countless hours?

    People running these youth groups from there plush offices down below and in downtown L.A. have no clue about the amount of space that is up here in the High desert. To now basically force parents to drive down below for supplies or to have to raise dues to cover the cost of shipping items really is a double edge sword! They complain about dwindling cookie sales and memberships, every year all we heard was how great the cookie turn out was and how they reached there goals plus some! so where is all that cookie money going? As far as membership this will now fall even more! Again mainly due to the head honchos not knowing what this valley is like! this valley is not like Santa Clarita or or other well to do areas that GSGLA service, and never will be. These kids up here really have a daily struggle of finding quality groups to belong to, knowing that many of them are far to expensive for there families to afford. Top that off with many parents who commute 2 hours each way to make ends meet, they are now expected to drive another 48 miles south for supplies for troop items? I don’t think so!I know my wife will sadly give up her troop if this stays the same. I attended the yearly awards earlier this year in April for GSGLA with my wife who was honored and received an award, and during this they had a membership meeting stating revenues and such, again all that was spoken was how well the Girl Scout movement was and how strong GSGLA was financially!

    Even if they were loosing $$ on this store up here why not take a page from BSA where no Scout will be left behind due to there inability to pay! By removing this store from this valley this in a sense is exactly what they are doing, those who have the parents/leaders with financial/able means and that are willing to commute for supplies/events etc, where those who can not for one reason or another will not be able to participate in a quality youth program. I would think if money was that big of an issues then some of these CEO’s would/should take a 10% pay cut each allowing monies to be used up here!

    This truly is a bad decision and will be a black eye on GSGLA for many many years to come! I hope GSGLA leaders step up and do the right thing, it is not all about making profits, or is it?

    • Ruth Nettelhorst
      August 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      Our founder, Juliette Lowe, sold her jewelry to keep Girl Scouts going. Why isn’t the CEO “selling her jewelry”?

  6. Dee Dee Tinkham
    August 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    That isnt right!! I know how much Girl Scouts meant to my daughters, Connie and Angela. Girls need this store there so they can get what they need. Please when you think you “have’ to do something as drastic as this talk to the parents!! They may have an alternative answer for you. Communication is best for all involved. The girls feel let down now.

    • Megan
      August 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks for your support, Dee Dee :-)

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