September 20, 2009

The nationwide Girl Guides of Canada online store is now open for business

A while back – February of 2008 to be exact – I blogged about the fact that the GGC had officially announced plans to gradually phase out all (remaining) GGC shops across the country and introduce a nationwide online store (aka, “eStore” or “eShop”) to replace all physical shop locations.

At the start of this month the online GGC shop went live, and though the process of closing down the remaining bricks and mortar shops will continue until December 31, 2010, for all intents and purposes it appears that GGC is directing members and the general public alike to the new online store. (At the time of writing, GGC store locations exist now in only Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island, all others have ceased operation.)

If you haven’t swung by the check out the eStore yet, I highly recommend you visit it here. This site replaces the Girl Guides of Ontario online shop that had previously existed (if you were registered with that site, you will have to register again for the new national shop, as the Ontario eStore site is no longer operational) and is meant to serve Guiding members across the country, wherever they may be located.

As one might imagine the eStore sells both standard GGC items such as uniforms, programme books and a selection of “fun patches” (crests which are not earned but rather purchased), in addition to a selection of lovely gift items (think plush dolls, jelly bracelets, mugs, bud vases, etc). The items in stock this year are by and large the same pieces that appeared in last year (2008’s) catalogue and some of the items stretch a few years further back.

One thing I had been secretly hoping for when the announcement of a nationwide online store first broke, was that the GGC would return to selling a broader range not only of uniform pieces (remember the days of multiple pant, skirt and blouse options for Guiders – or of dress and pant options for girl members?) but non-uniform pieces alike. I fully realize that in this cost-conscience age it’s not always possible to stock a store to the rafters with merchandise, but the nostalgic side of my soul greatly misses when there were far more items emblazoned with trefoils available from the GGC.

At present, the main question I raised in early 2008 still looms unanswered: what is to become of A/D/D crests? Currently, the official GGC eStore FAQ page, while certainly helpful in answering numerous questions visitors might have, does not address this point. I’ve asked GGC (adult) members across the country for over two years about what the fate of A/D/D crests is going to be when the last of the physical GGC shop locations closes its doors, and no one has been able to provide me with an answer.

Of course, I fully realize that the GGC – an organization I will perpetually hold near and dear to my heart – does not exist merely to produce crests, far from it! This organization – and Guiding the world over – is about the lives of the girls and women it touches, enriches and challenges.

However, I do feel that it would be a sincere shame to watch A/D/D crests go the way of the dinosaur. They have been a mainstay of camps, day events, sleepovers, international events and myriad other situations where Guides from different areas of the province/country/world gathered in the sisterhood of Guiding.

Like license plates of sorts representing the part of the country a girl or woman hailed from, these crests – sometimes highly detailed, other times humbly simple, yet no less elegant in their design – have told the rest of the Guiding world where a Canadian member was from and allowed her the opportunity to connect through the act of swapping patches with new friends from not only the roads of her own country but also from destinations the world over. I hope in my heart of hearts that somehow – whether it be through the national GGC online shop or perhaps via A/D/D council offices, location crests will continue to be produced. Many Guiding members and patch collectors the country over will miss them terribly if they are phased out.

Like the band that played until the Titanic went under however, I always try to maintain a sense of optimism until the very end, and as such I won’t dwell on this topic any more for the time being. Instead I’ll extend my congratulations to the GGC for launching a terrific, very easy to navigate eStore, which I’m delighted to report accepts PayPal as a form of payment.

I look forward to ordering from this new shop in the future and also to the merchandise they’ll continue to offer members and supporters of the GGC for many years to come.