We’ve heard it all standing at Girl Scout cookie booths for the last eight years.
“Just how much money do you actually get for selling these?”
“Wow, they’ve gone up again. I remember when they were $_____.”
“I can get more cookies for a lot less in the store!”
“I don’t buy these cookies because Girl Scouts supported (insert scandal of the year).”
As that last lady began to explain in detail her issues with Planned Parenthood and Wendy Davis, my first reaction was to cover the girls’ ears but we all just stood politely and nodded until she left.
Girl Scout cookies are fun to eat and the largest fundraiser of an organization that has been promoting the empowerment of girls and women for over 100 years. What may feel like an annoyance waiting for you outside Wal-Mart or CVS or even on your doorstep is actually one of the most multi-faceted educational experiences out there.
Many important lessons are taught through this process: learning to count change, handling multiple customers at once, employing new sales techniques, understanding proper attire for the weather, and responding graciously when customers decline. But what amazes me every year is the human relations aspect, an almost missional part of the practice. You truly come in contact with all walks of life and interact with people you might never meet otherwise. Being in their presence is what lends cookie booths their depth and significance.
“I’ve been waiting on someone to ask me and no one has. You are the first one and it’s been weeks. Thank you so much, of course I’ll buy some!” –a young man covered in tattoos and piercings.
“We got these from you in Afghanistan and it was always such a treat!” –Mike, veteran
“Girls, I would really like to buy some but I have this other habit (motions to cigarette case in his hands), one you should NEVER start, it’s a terrible thing.”
“I’d like to buy a box for the next person who comes by, here’s the money and you choose, okay?” (The next person was quite astonished when their box was free.)
“What’s your favorite flavor? Here’s a box for you and your selling partner.”
Cookie booths are a lot of work. You haul around cases of cookies, a table, signs, your moneybox and all the accoutrement that goes on your Scout. Not to mention that in Texas in January and February the temperature may be 20 degrees or it may be 70 and it can change in the blink of eye. What you might not realize is that the girls you see at cookie booths want to be there. They’ve set a sales goal that will help them earn money to further their education and life experience.
For your part as the customer, it’s okay to say, “No.” That’s all part of sales. Just keep in mind when you pass a booth that you are part of how these girls see the world. What you share with them, monetary or otherwise will inform their view of others and society in general.
Want to know the actual bottom line? Check out, http://www.gsctx.org/en/cookies/about-girl-scout-cookies/where-cookie-money-goes.html
For our troop, it is about $7000 a year which pays for all troop activities, materials and will be sending the girls to New York City this summer on a seven day trip.