My good friend wrote me an email this morning apologizing for being late in responding to my previous electronic communication. She has been ubber busy (I like that non-word so Spell Check be damned.) with, among other things, Girl Scout cookies. It seems she has become a distribution center for the greater Reno area. In her email, she claimed to have had 2,000 boxes of the confections in her living room, but was now, agreeably it seems, down to 600 boxes which are slated for sale in front of Safeways, Albertsons, Smiths, Sam’s Clubs, Costcos, and anywhere else they’ll let them set up a card table and a display. Two thousand boxes of GSUSA cookies. That’s a lot of cookies.
Well, let me tell you, when you put this in perspective, those 2,000 boxes are just “small cookies” in the scheme of things. Estimates are that over 200 MILLION boxes of “Thin Mints,” “Samoas,” “Tag-a-Longs,” “Lemonades,” “Shortbreads,” and other varieties are sold annually. That’s a lot of baking, and they’re not just baked at one place. Several large national bakeries are licensed to produce the cookies, ABC Bakeries is one and has been doing it since 1936. What these numbers mean is there are a lot of “Cookie Moms” out there pushing Girl Scout cookies, in an attempt to clear 600 boxes out of their living rooms.
The history of the cookie business for Girl Scouts goes back to 1917. These “Cookie Moms” had to bake the cookies at a cost of 26 to 36 cents per seven dozen, according to an article published in the Girl Scout publication, “The American Girl,” in 1922. The suggested retail price was 25 to 30 cents a dozen. A profit for the troops, to say the least. Today, the boxes of cookies sell for $4.00 and the local troop sees about 54 cents a box from the sale, I am told. They get more as the number of boxes sold increases, but I think far from the 70% the Girl Scout website claims.
The sales record for an individual was recorded in 2008, when Jennifer Sharpe of Dearborn, MI, a 15-year-old cookie salesperson sold 17,328 boxes of cookies. I’ll bet her living room was hard to move around in for a while. But are the Girl Scouts actually selling most of the cookies?
In my experience, I get handed a colorful order sheet depicting scrumptious varieties of “need to have” cookies from someone at work, whose daughter, granddaughter, niece, or whatever is “selling” cookies, or I get an email with the subject line “It’s Cookie Time Again” for those interstate sales reps, telling me I don’t have to buy anything, but you know how good they are, everybody loves Girl Scout Cookies, and, as a last resort, “My daughter has to sell X number of boxes to go to camp this year.” The guilt approach. How can you not help some poor Girl Scout get to camp? So I buy four boxes from this person, and six boxes from this person, and another four boxes from that person, and shell out a few bucks as I’m walking out of the grocery store. And I have told one or two who have actually rung the doorbell, that I have already bought cookies and have a freezer full now. Then I have to come up with money when the cookies are delivered that I have forgotten I have bought-en.
My friend claimed that her troop is putting the onus on the girls to sell the cookies and not so much on the mom’s, which I think is a good thing. Shouldn’t the whole “It’s Cookie Time Again,” be a learning experience for young sales professionals?
And let me add that I just inhaled a box of maple cream filled sandwich cookies called, “Maple Leaf ‘Good &’ De Lish,” sold at “Walgreen’s” for a buck, actually 99 cents, that rival any GSUSA cookie I have ever eaten. And I’m almost finished with the box of “Divine Chocolate & Caramel Truffle Cookies” under the same trademark. The Girl Scout cookies don’t seem as good anymore. I don’t have a freezer full of them either. Yep, I only have four left and will have to run out to “Walgreen’s” to get some more, where I will probably be stopped on the way in, and the way out, by a bunch of green-clad sashed little girls, with “Cookie Moms” nearby, wanting me to help them get to camp this summer.