By Anika Banerjee ’24 (she/her), Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again: the Town of Davidson is going to be crawling for some cookies. During the annual Davidson Cookie Crawl, participants receive a map that guides them to different locations around town, and as they travel to each business that is participating in the event, they collect cookies.
This year, the Davidson Cookie Crawl will benefit the Davidson-Cornelius Child Development Center (DCCDC). The center’s mission statement is to “provide high-quality, affordable early education and care for any child of our community without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status, and to embrace and foster diversity in a safe learning environment.”
Jason Jordan, Director of Operations at the DCCDC, said, “The families and staff of Davidson-Cornelius Child Development Center are both honored and grateful to be a part of the Town of Davidson’s Cookie Crawl.” Jordan emphasized the importance of this event because it allows people to get involved in their community while visiting various businesses in Davidson.
The Cookie Crawl is selling 100 tickets this year, and each ticket costs 20 dollars, making the total projected revenue $2,000. “Through the generous support of our community, the proceeds from the Cookie Crawl help our center to provide tuition scholarships for families in need of assistance,” Jordan said.
The participants of this event will begin the day with a decorated cookie bag. They receive a passport with all of their “cookie stops” and travel to different locations around the town to pick up cookies along the way. Throughout the event, they can explore the stores holding the cookies and learn more about Davidson, while also discovering new boutiques and shops. By the end of the day, each participant will have collected two dozen holiday cookies and will have a better knowledge of the town.
On Saturday, November 7th from 11am to 4pm, Copeland & Richards, Rumor Mill Market, Il Bosco, Davidson Wine Co., Davidson Village Inn, Kindred, The Spirited Cyclist, Mestizo, Allen Tate Realty, Mine on Main, Meeting Street Productions, The Village Store, Main Street Books, Ben & Jerry’s, Elisabeth Rose, Davidson Yoga Therapy, The Wooden Stone, Carburritos, A/R Workshop, Hearts on Fiber, Honeysuckle Home, Clean Juice, Mine by Sandy and DekaLash will be operating as Cookie Crawl locations, as indicated on the flier above.
As COVID-19 has slowly shut down the nation, many small community functions have been delayed or cancelled altogether. The organizers of the Cookie Crawl, however, have made it their mission to benefit the DCCDC and have done everything in their power to make sure that the event will occur this year.
This fun gathering is possible because it conforms to all health and safety guidelines of the Town of Davidson. Kim Fleming, the Economic Development Manager of the Town of Davidson, said that the Cookie Crawl will follow strict COVID guidelines this year so the event can occur both safely and similarly to how it normally would.
According to Fleming, “All cookies are individually packaged, [and] social distancing and masks are required for all participants.” During such a difficult time, the Davidson community is trying its hardest to keep events like this afloat.
The Cookie Crawl initially began in 2015 because a “group of downtown merchants thought it would be a fun way to kick off the holiday shopping season,” Fleming said.
This event was first made possible by Karen Toney, the manager at Ben & Jerry’s. Toney said, “A friend of mine shared the idea with me. Ben & Jerry’s then brought the idea to the merchants. My friend lived in a similar small town, St. Genevieve, Missouri, where they had an annual cookie crawl and I thought it was perfect for Davidson.”
Toney misses the rhythm of the town; she is tired of COVID being such a damper on the positive and joyous Davidson community. “Events and fun activities, like summer concerts and the Halloween Parade, that used to bring townspeople out to visit and engage with each other, have all been canceled for safety reasons,” she stated. “It’s nice that the design of the Cookie Crawl makes it safe for participants and can still happen.”
The Cookie Crawl helps struggling businesses by providing them with new customers. Small towns rely on the hustle and bustle of their community to provide them with income, but when that public is isolating themselves because of the pandemic, business becomes difficult.
Toney recalled, “It was hard, different, and exhausting; it was also a great time to get creative as we learned to pivot to meet our customers where they are and create a ‘new normal.’”
On top of COVID, winter is also a tedious time for businesses, especially ice cream companies, to function. “Winter is coming, which is always our slow season,” Toney said. She poses a few questions: “How do we get through a winter with fewer townspeople journeying out and Davidson students leaving before Thanksgiving to return late January due to the pandemic?”
Toney stressed the significance of staying on your toes and being comfortable with stepping out of the box. Gathering customers during this time requires a flexible mindset. However, she noted that when planning strategies to attract customers, one must keep in mind, “Will this bring out too many people?” — something she never had to consider before.
Despite the circumstances, Toney emphasized the importance of living in a town like Davidson. “Our community rallied around Ben & Jerry’s and all downtown businesses. People told me ‘we don’t usually eat ice cream, but we are going to come once a week to support you.’” She continued, “Our ice cream cake sales are up as people are staying home and celebrating events together. Customers are gracious as we all learn how to navigate the new normal.”
Toney and Fleming brought the Cookie Crawl back, not only to benefit the Davidson-Cornelius Child Development Center, but also because they wanted the community to experience some sense of normalcy and delight. Toney has expanded her creativity, not only to help Ben and Jerry’s persevere through the struggles that COVID has created, but also to continue bringing joy to the Town of Davidson.