It about so much more than selling

First Posted: 2/18/2014

It is that time of year again – Girl Scout Cookie Time.

Everyone has a favorite, but the little round delights offer up more than additional winter weight. It also provides an opportunity for young girls to experience a bit of the business world, develop people skills and the importance of giving back to their community.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 32647 of Dallas are mastering these skills. With 17,000 boxes sold last year, earning a gross sale profit of over $5,000, the group hopes to meet the same sales goal or possibly even more, but some road blocks this year are creating new challenges.

Troop leader Shani Williams said the 17 girls in the troop worked together to set a team sales goal and an individual sales goal. Then, they work hard to achieve those goals.

This year’s snowy winter weather has created a new hurdle for the girls. In response, the Girl Scouts of the United States expanded the cookie sales time by a week in this region, she said.

“We started selling on Jan. 2 and will go to March 23,” she said.

Williams had to cancel the booth at Thomas’ Family Market at the County Club Shopping Center in Dallas a week ago Saturday due to a snowstorm. She was able to reschedule the cookie booth for today.

“Many parents called to say their daughters could not make it,” Williams said of the planned event for a week ago.

The Home Show previously held at the 109th Artillery Armory in Kingston and normally a high traffic venue, has been moved to the new Hotel and Convention Center at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township. Williams said the Scouts, along with other public service groups are not allowed to participate this year.

Despite these setbacks, the girls have not lost their optimism, Williams said. The public demand and love for the cookies always draws a crowd.

The public was first introduced to Girl Scout cookies about 100 years ago when they were originally made by the Girl Scouts of Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Okla. and sold for 25 to 35 cents per dozen. The original recipe is on the website. Today, Girl Scout cookies are distributed and sold nationwide in a wide variety of flavors for $4 a box.

This long-standing heritage has built up a reputation as a delicious sweet treat and quite a following.

Using a combination of word-of-mouth and the Girl Scouts of the United States Cookie Finder Application, customers can easily find a cookie booth near them.

“Technology has certainly improved cookie sales,” Williams said. “Last year, we had one customer who drove an hour to purchase cookies.”

Girl Scouts Morgan Williams and Alyssa Pritchard, both 10 years old and both of Dallas, tell friends and family right away when they will be selling cookies.

“I tell my friends about it,” Pritchard said. “I ask my mom, dad and neighbor to take the pre-registration form to work with them.”

Pritchard’s method works well for her. Last year, she estimates she sold 70 boxes of cookies to help her troop.

Williams said for many of the girls have been participating in the cookie sales for the past five years.

“Every year their responsibility grows,” she said. “This year the girls not only made posters and talk to customers, but now they are handling the money and making change.”

Pritchard learned being familiar with her product allows her to describing how good the cookies are.

“You want to be really nice and tell them how good they are,” she said. “I sell more that way.”

A portion of funds raised from the cookie sales is given to the area council, the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, based in Harrisburg. Williams said the troop keeps a small percentage to fund trips and badges. That percentage of funding will go towards the girls current work toward the drawing and music badges and a possible trip to Sugar Bush to see how maple syrup is made.

“The girls want to take a trip to Washington, D.C. next year,” Williams said. “Some of the funding will be saved for that, as well. We do not have any major trips planned for this year, yet.”

Morgan Williams enjoys doing door-to-door sales in her neighborhood, but also likes meeting new people through the cookie booths the troop holds throughout the community.

“I like being with my friends and meeting new people,” she said. “I look forward to this every year.”

Selling is fun, but giving back to the community is even better. The troop participates in a program called the Cookie Jar, where it donates cookies to a charity of its choice. Last year, the girls donated cookies and their time to St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre.

Morgan said the Scouts served cookies to the patrons and helped make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After having such a positive experience, the troop plans to help out at the kitchen again this year.

“I think it was just wonderful,” Pritchard said. “People get excited about the cookies.”

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