The Greater Tampa Bay Area Council has achieved many milestones in fully implementing the operational merger of our two previous council organizations. As we continue to explore ways to better serve our nine-county service area, the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council executive board has decided it is necessary to close the Seminole Boy Scout Office.
There are several reasons that this consolidation is timely. First, more and more shopping is being done online these days, so that many brick & mortar stores are struggling to attract enough walk-in traffic to remain open. B.S.A. National Supply has been successfully piloting an Amazon Store for Scouting related products, and that store continues to grow and be a successful distribution model for our units. This follows the current trends and successful implementation of online advancement reporting, online re-chartering, and online registration. The trend toward e-commerce has resulted in a measurable reduction in utilization of the Seminole Scout Shop.
Second, a large number of our Scouters while calling Pinellas County home, work or conduct significant business in Tampa. Because of the commuter culture in the greater Tampa Bay area, many Seminole Scout Shop customers prefer to access the Tampa Scout Shop’s extensive inventory. The Tampa Scout Shop is a National B.S.A. staffed and operated store, they are able to provide a larger selection of publications, advancement products, uniform selection, and many of the camping and craft type items that the Council run store in Seminole could not logistically house.
Third, our Council has an obligation to provide a safe working environment for its employees. Most of the back-end administrative services, like accounting, membership processing, and advancement, are being headquartered out of the Tampa Service Center in order to provide consistent administrative processes to all eight of our Districts. This staffing model provides less accountability to the employees of the Seminole Scout Shop. Simply put, the Buddy-System is a hallmark of the Scouting program and we believe that having an employee running a retail shop alone is not the safest working environment.
Taking into account access and utilization of the Seminole Scout Shop, access to Scouting products through online stores, the region-wide utilization of the Tampa Scout Shop, and the safety of our employees, the Seminole Office will be closing October 31, 2017.
Moving forward, the council is exploring several models to provide supplemental access to Scouting products. Several camps in Florida, and even one here in our own council, run very successful onsite Scout Shops. Our council will continue to explore the need for additional collocated locations. As we continue to find the best approach to supporting our units we welcome your input and constructive suggestions.
The Tampa Scout Shop at 13228 N. Central Avenue, Tampa will continue to serve the Scouts and Scouters in the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council. To assist units in purchasing advancements, the Council will cover the cost of mailing these items to Pinellas County units through the end of January 2018.