Olson, Girl Scout Cookies in Bulk, NYT, March 2007
“Girl Scout Cookies in Bulk.”
By ELIZABETH OLSON
In an annual rite that is still going strong,
across the country have kicked off their
90th season of cookie sales— but with some modern entrepreneurial twists.
The Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and other cookie stalwarts remain remarkably the same
(although trans fats were removed this year). And Girl Scout cookies remain a sales juggernaut:
some 200 million boxes now generate $700 million in sales yearly.
But the Scouts, with a sales force of 2.7 million, have moved from traditional box-by-box selling
methods to more varied approaches to get bulk sales. Now there are cookie academies and
cookie colleges, as well as more intense sessions in marketing, selling and business skills for
girls 11 and over.
The cookie season today is all about individual entrepreneurship — using cookie selling to teach
Girl Scouts how to manage money, create a business plan and win customers.
Kicking off the selling season, a Kentucky Scout group last month held a five-hour cookie
college in three cities, with 10 classes in marketing, money management, goal setting and the
etiquette of approaching customers. In January, 600 Girl Scouts attended a one-day cookie
college in Sacramento, sponsored by
; the seminars included “Entrepreneur 101”
and “Creative Marketing.”
Displaying the entrepreneurial flair the Scouts movement encourages, Sarah Cain, 16, reaped a
batch of orders last year from local businesses in her hometown, Arlington, Wash., north of
Seattle. She found a number of car dealership listings when she researched possible customers in
the phone book, and, she said, that gave her the idea of “asking them to give a box to people who
take a test drive.”
Stephen C. Brown, general sales manager of Smokey Point Buick Pontiac GMC, bought eight