There’s nothing I love more than Girl Scout cookie season… except hearing about plucky girl scouts who demonstrate a knack for leadership at a young age. Though I enjoyed participating in the Girl Scouts during elementary school, I can’t say the organization had a significant impact on my life, but I did enjoy selling Thin Mints and beyond in my sprawling suburban neighborhood. Even though I was rarely turned away, the experience taught me how to assert myself, approach superiors, be smart with money and negotiate.
Today’s girl scouts are not only learning these skills, but applying them immediately. Katie Francis, an Oklahoma girl scout who hasn’t even reached her teen years, just broke the nation’s cookie record by selling more than 18,000 boxes. For many 12-year-olds, topping the country’s record would be more than enough, but the sixth grader wants to hit 20,000 before the end of March. Last year, she sold more than 12,000 boxes and she intends to reach the 100,000 mark by the end of her Girl Scout Era. In 2012 and 2013, she broke the state record for cookie boxes sold, so if it’s not already clear, this pre-teen cannot be beaten.
“She’s such a go-getter. She works countless hours,” her mother DeLee Francis said in a USA Today interview. A lot of girl scouts are dedicated and hard-working, but Katie’s secret is going up to everyone in sight and politely asking for their business. While her classmates and friends are playing/watching TV/messing around on iPads afterschool, Katie is busy representing the Girl Scouts. From the time she gets out of class until 9:30 at night, Katie sells cookies like it’s her job. She puts in 12-13 hours during the weekends as well, so not only is selling cookies her whole life, but her area of expertise. As for the most popular cookie around, Katie and her mom say it’s Thin Mints by a longshot. No surprise here, but hey, some of us have faith that Tagalongs will be the new Thin Mints someday.
Of course, Francis isn’t the only girl scout who took 2014 by storm. In February, a 13-year-old California girl scout set up shop outside a medical marijuana dispensary, selling nearly 120 cookie boxes in just two hours. As tacky as it may have come across, it was certainly a smart strategy on the girl scout’s part. Her mom supervised the whole thing too, but the Girl Scouts of Colorado weren’t so quick to cheer on the teenager’s opportunistic move.
“There’s a place for everything, and just like a liquor store or a gun show, a marijuana dispensary isn’t a place for young girls to be selling cookies,” Rachelle Trujillo, chief marketing officer for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “There are plenty of other options for customers of adult businesses to purchase cookies at other locations.”
The Girl Scouts of Colorado forbids the selling of cookies “outside of any adult-oriented business, whether that is a bar, strip club, casino, liquor store or marijuana dispensary. We recognize these are legitimate businesses, but we don’t feel they are an appropriate place for girls to be selling cookies in Colorado.”
This response was poorly received, as commenters pointed out that grocery stores sell alcohol, cigarettes and other “adult” products and a pot clinic shouldn’t be any different. I tend to agree, especially since girl scouts are encouraged to be creative in their sales tactics. Would it be better if one of her parents took her cookie sheet to the office and did all the legwork themselves? Girl Scout cookie season isn’t simply about gulping down entire sleeves of Thin Mints alongside a tall glass of whole milk.
It’s about finding interesting and effective ways to sell a product that’s being offered by dozens of other youngsters in the area. I know I was met with some challenges selling cookies in my own neighborhood, as a couple girls in my troop lived a few blocks away and took business I assumed would always be mine. It even caused problems in the neighborhood as parents refused to buy from certain kids having already committed to purchase cookies from others. It was a First World Problem like no other, but it got me to hustle and quit relying on the formerly easy door-to-door route. I had to shift my focus and sell cookies in other places. I didn’t have many options, but I found one that worked for me, and props to this girl scout for doing the same for herself.