Sign of Spring: Cookies
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
While the winter of 2022-23 marches on (and on), Girl Scout Cookie sales last a mere six weeks. Poof. It ends in April.
The annual sales are billed as local efforts – it’s the young lady from the neighborhood going door-to-door with a wagon or sled filled with goodies labeled Adventurefuls®, PB Patties/Tagalongs®, Lemon-Ups®, and Girl Scout Smores®. Careful eyes will note the trademarks as a way for the scouts to protect ideas, names, or symbols from knock-off competitors. The legal profession calls it IP for intellectual property. In short, the scouts own the brands they’ve worked so hard on and the trademark gives them protection just like the protection enjoyed by Big and Small Business.
While local, it’s global, too. The cookie program has become the world’s largest entrepreneurial program for girls. It teaches scouts important lifelong skills, including financial literacy, planning, budgeting, teamwork, critical thinking, and decision making. Add confidence to that list. Even with a mom or dad towing the inventory, it takes a whole lot of confidence to ring door bells and make a sales pitch. Sales professionals may tell a tired, down-and-out scout, “That last no means you’re one step closer to a yes.”
A couple years ago, a fast-talking economic development guy in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley promised a girl scout she’d earn a sale if she could recite the five P’s of a business plan. She looked to her mom for help. The fast talker gave them a hint, Product, Price, People, Place, and Promotion. Her mom jumped in, noting her daughter had cookies as the product; the price was $5 a box, the people consisted of a daughter-mother team, they were selling in a lobby as the place, and a double-sided sign served as their promotion. A sale was made and the tip jar got a George Washington, too. George was smiling.
Just like in real business, there’s no resting on laurels for the scouts. The Raspberry Rally® cookie is new for 2023. It’s offered exclusively online and includes direct shipping only. The roll-out was intended to enhance the scouts’ e-commerce sales and entrepreneurial skills. Are e-sales in 2023 the forerunner of a digital future for all cookie sales? Stay tuned. The so-called free market responded to the Raspberry Rally® in a big way. News outlets are reporting the limited edition treats are resold on eBay and other channels for up to $100 a box. Scouts aren’t happy. Call it the Cruelty of e-commerce 101.
Why support the cookie sales? Net profits from the sales stay local. Funded activities extend beyond summer camps. They include important service projects that vary from locale to locale. In a world short of big thinking entrepreneurs, the annual cookie sale effort pays big dividends. Really big dividends. Business Ethics. People Skills. Money Management. Decision Making. Goal Setting. Those foundational building blocks are listed on each cookie box.
Here’s to a cookie. When the doorbell rings or as a makeshift booth is sighted, consider stopping. Listen to their pitches. In the St. Croix Valley and elsewhere, the Girl Scout Mission is laser clear, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”