Archive for Sunday, January 8, 2012

Girl Scouts change cookie tactics

Troops no longer just taking, filling orders but instead moving to direct sales

Members of Brownie Troop 7608 take a proactive approach when it comes to selling Girl Scout cookies. Their impromptu concert was held on Massachusetts Street on Jan. 7, 2012.

January 8, 2012


On the street

What is your favorite type of Girl Scout cookie?

Thin Mints.

More responses

Girls Scouts nationwide are changing the way they sell Girl Scout cookies. In the past, Girl Scouts took preorders, but this year they are taking a direct sales approach, where each troop estimates how many cookies they think they can sell and then go out and sell them. The change has some parents worried troops will be stuck with excess cookies.

Girls Scouts nationwide are changing the way they sell Girl Scout cookies. In the past, Girl Scouts took preorders, but this year they are taking a direct sales approach, where each troop estimates how many cookies they think they can sell and then go out and sell them. The change has some parents worried troops will be stuck with excess cookies.

Just when you thought your New Year’s resolution was safe, Girl Scouts will be setting up booths across Lawrence with the hope of selling cases of cookies.

Girls Scouts nationwide are shifting sales tactics from one that had Girl Scouts taking preorders of cookie sales to a direct sales approach where troops estimate how many cookies they think they can sell and then go out and sell them. In recent years, preordered cookies were handed out in Lawrence during the middle of the winter. This year, boxes of cookies arrived before the holidays and will be sold until the end of this month.

While the change is good for sales, some parents are worried they won’t be able to sell all the cookies they’ve ordered and will be left holding the bill. Gina Garvin, brand and marketing director for Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri, acknowledged the first year of the sales transition can be hard for troops to establish a baseline.

“We know it comes with some stresses, and we know that we have some work to do,” Garvin said. “It’s like they are running a business for three to four months. It is huge. And we appreciate them so much. We know there are frustrations.”

In Lawrence, about 10 troops have a substantial amount of cookies left to sell in the next three weeks, Garvin said. Once troops agree to take the cookies, Garvin said they can’t be returned to the baker or the regional council.

The baker won’t take them back for food safety reasons, and the regional councils won’t accept them because it would compound an already existing inventory of cookies.

Garvin said the council, which serves 47 counties in two states, will help.

“We don’t want the profit the troops use to support (their activities) to go away. We are doing everything we can possibly do to support the effort,” she said.

Girl Scouts have found that the direct sales approach has been more successful. For the regional council, orders are up 10 percent from last year.

Today’s Girl Scouts don’t know their neighbors as well as they used to and have a harder time connecting directly with customers, Garvin said. On the other hand, troops have had success with setting up booths or holding wagon sales across neighborhoods.

“It’s easier to sell when the customer has the cookies right in front of them,” Garvin said.

Statistics show that 80 percent of people who are asked to buy Girl Scout cookies will buy them. But just 60 percent of them are ever approached.

At the start of the cookie selling season, troops were given formulas to project their cookie sales. Based on those formulas, cases of cookies were baked and shipped out to troops throughout the region. In the initial order phase, Garvin said troops were worried they would run out of cookies and began ordering more. In the first week, 30,000 cases were taken from the regional council.

But when the holidays hit, sales slowed down, and parents began to worry that they wouldn’t be able to sell the cookies that remained. Compounding the problem in Lawrence, local stores allowed fewer troops to set up booths.

“We know there aren’t enough (booth sales) right now and we are asking for business support and support from the community to help alleviate all that stress. We need that help,” Garvin said.

David Mier, store operations manager for Hy-Vee on Sixth Street, said he has noticed an increase in troops wanting to sell cookies at the store. They have four booths set up during January, but Mier said the store had to set a limit.

“Too many people in the entryway is overwhelming,” he said.

Garvin is calling on troops to get more creative in where they sell cookies, suggesting they set up booths at places of worship, car dealerships and bowling alleys.

The regional council also is trying to shuffle cookies from troops that are having trouble selling them to those that want to keep selling.

“We don’t want girls to be stuck with cookies. We don’t want parents to be stuck with cookies. We don’t want troops to be stuck with cookies. We want them to have the full proceeds,” Garvin said.

Those interested in buying cookies or setting up a booth can contact Lisa Vanderbilt at 393-9972 or


Roland Gunslinger 6 years, 4 months ago

The Girl Scouts needs to reexamine their price points. I understand this is (supposedly) for charity but at $4 a box for Tagalongs they are about double the price of the Walmart's Great Value product. Also Tagalongs are 7 oz whereas the Great Value brand is 9 oz.

Less product for double the price! Sounds like a winning combination.

Bob Forer 6 years, 4 months ago

Folks aren't buying them simply for the value. They know they cost more than store-bought cookies, and that the profit is going ot a worthy organization. Two dollars per box more than Walmart is a modest amount. If you can't afford them, or are otherwise limited in your charitable urges, don't buy them.

Bob Forer 6 years, 4 months ago

At $3.00 they would probably need to sell twice as many boxes to make the same profit. .

BorderRat 6 years, 4 months ago

Anybody know how much profit the Scouts actually make on each box. Did I miss it in the article?

Ricci Moyer 6 years, 4 months ago

Bought some at the Walmart on 6th st tonight and there was a total douche bag that bought two boxes for 7 bucks. The little girl gave him the incorrect change, he had given them a $20 bill so the little girl gave him back $16.50. He said that they gave him too much and gave them the .50 back. The lady with them tried to get him to come and give the correct amount back but he just ignored them and kept walking. Yeah prices are high but come on people.

makesmewonder 6 years, 4 months ago

I used to be a troop leader..those kids work hard to sale those cookies. My problem was..the troops get less then $1.00 a box..actually if I remember right and this has been a few years ago...the troop itself got .46 a box and the rest went to the GS council. Personally I think they are asking a bit much of the kids for the money the troop gets paid. Now with buying the cookies in advance more troops are going to be stuck with extra cookies and no one buying them so the troop will have to use the little money they make to pay off the cookies. Talk about stressful for the troop leaders and parents who will in the end pay off the cookie debt.

JGr 6 years, 4 months ago

It's interesting that they mentioned parents being stuck with the bill multiple times in this article. This is precisely the problem with their new strategy. They are definitely selling more cookies by having immediate availability, but then parents are going to stop participating in cookie sales because they can't afford to take a loss. GSA needs to reevaluate.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 4 months ago

From the video, it looks like the panhandlers have got some stiff competition.

But seriously folks--"the first year of the sales transition can be hard for troops to establish a baseline." +++ Teaching them awfully young about the debt economy eh? Being in debt to the 1% can never start too early!

greenworld 6 years, 4 months ago

This whole thing is a fraud. This whole idea of using kids to be salesman is stupid. So lets turn the kids into slaves instead of salesman and make them go out and make money for our council and not give them back but pennies to their troop is a bunch of BS. Once again money has became the root of all evil. I think they need to reward the girls to sell things if they want to promote good salesmanship in doing so and that looks like its moving more and more away from that.

asixbury 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree. I always thought it was a scam. My mom never let my sister and I sell cookies when we were kids, because she saw it for what it was way back then: a scam. It's a way for the council to make lots of money, with very little benefit to the troops. I still love the cookies, though, and am guilty of buying them. The carmel delights...yum!

Cai 6 years, 4 months ago

The troop is usually better off with other donations, etc. To that end, a homemade caramel delights recipe.

asixbury 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm printing this one. Awesome! Now I'm hungry...

Flap Doodle 6 years, 4 months ago

Considering the way the economy is going, teaching children to beg in the street may be a useful survival skill.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

I believe it's in the Republican platform where they discuss how they'll cut the deficit.

hip_gma 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't mind them setting up shop throughout town, or any other organization who sells stuff. What I don't like is being approached by the kids. I see you are selling something. I see what you are selling. I'll stop if I want to buy something.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree. I'm buying thin mints whenever and wherever. Best cookies and for a good cause. I'll work overtime just so I can fill my freezer full of thin mints. I have absolutely no respect for anyone who doesn't see frozen thin mints and a glass of ice cold milk as the best way to spend an evening after work. (O.K., I'm a little over the top with that one. But I really do like them).

Cassie Powell 6 years, 4 months ago

Habitat for Humanity ReStore @ 708 Connecticut Street has agreed to a Girl Scout Cookie Booth on Saturday January 21st from 11am to 2pm. Cookies are $3.50 a box.

As a mother to a scout, I agree that the troops do not get much in the way of money, however the kids learn several lessons, and most of them are not learned selling cookies. They are forming friendships and learning to help each each other!

PennyBrite 6 years, 4 months ago

go set up near the KU union or inside -- good traffic and students LOVE cookies!

deec 6 years, 4 months ago

It might be illegal to solicit on state property.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Heck yes keep hitting Mass Street = use those public sidewalks!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Do Allen Fieldhouse on game day... if possible

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