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Ukrop's Owners Boot Girl Scouts

Martin's Food Markets says no to Girl Scout cookies.

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Plagues and locusts would be better than this latest sign of the Ukrop-alypse.

Ukrop's new owner, Martin's Food Markets, is making little girls cry by calling an end to the long-running tradition of Girl Scout cookie sales in front of the grocery chain's 25 locations.

Adding to the little girls' tears is the timing of the announcement. Area troops already have ordered crates of cookies in anticipation of expected sales at the booth locations that they first started booking with Ukrop's in November.

“Canceling our booth sales after we've already ordered our cookies could be devastating,” says Tracy Coogle, the leader of three troops. She has for years relied on Ukrop's sales to bolster the yearly cookie sales that account for half of her yearly fundraising efforts, she says: “We can't turn them back in once we've purchased them. … We can't get stuck with cookies.”

Calls to Tracy Pawelski, a spokeswoman for Giant Food Stores, which operates Martin's, were not immediately returned. But a in a statement issued to the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia, Giant chalked the change up to long-standing corporate policy.

“In the past, Ukrop's has helped several non-profit, charitable, and service organizations in their fundraising efforts by allowing them to use the sidewalk space near the entrance of their stores,” the statement, which is excerpted in a notice on the state Girl Scout Web site, reads. “As we make the transition to new ownership, Giant/Martin's new sidewalk policy does not make provisions for sidewalk vending at any of their stores.”

Coogle says she's unimpressed.

“Ukrop's is one of our biggest booth locations -- and Ukrop's has been so wonderful to work with year after year after year,” she says. “The first month the new ownership takes over, this is the first thing the do. They're going to lose a lot of Girl Scout supporters and shoppers if they keep along this path.”

But perhaps all isn't lost. Judy Crenshaw, marketing director at Theatre IV, says the children's theater company located on West Broad Street downtown has agreed to come to the rescue of local Girl Scout troops kicked off the curb by Martin's.

“We would love to help," she says."If any Girl Scout troop in the area has lost their Ukrop's location and wants to come and set up their booth to sell cookies at [the] Theatre IV location, they're welcome."

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