As a Girl Scout in the early ’90s, I sold more than 5,000 boxes of cookies for my troop over a three-year period. I went door-to-door with order forms, took pre-orders from my parents’ co-workers and delivered each box via wagon and cart to my customers. My efforts netted me a week at an overnight resident camp each year, in addition to US savings bonds and small trinkets with Girl Scout logos and new patches for my sash.
According to Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont Product Program Manager Bonnie Macumber, between 1.8 and 2.1 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies will be sold in our area in 2020. The Peaks to Piedmont Girl Scout Council, which covers 40 counties from the Tennessee line to central North Carolina, has a unique and meticulous operation in place to distribute these seasonal treats to the masses.
“The cookie game has changed,” says Macumber. “Girls are encouraged to do the old-fashioned, door-to-door sales which we call ‘Walkabout Week,’ booth sales and online sales. All are a part of the direct-sales approach as opposed to the old-fashioned, pre-order sales.”
Girl scouts in Guilford and Forsyth counties are amongst the 9,000 girls who will peddle, push and persuade cookie fans to buy nine different varieties of cookies this season: Caramel deLites, Lemonades, Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Peanut Butter Patties, S’mores, Thin Mints, Thanks-A-Lot (which will be retiring in 2021 to make room for a new cookie variety) and gluten-free Caramel Chocolate Chip.
There are two bakers that supply the US with all its Girl Scout Cookies. Our area’s council has a 30-year relationship with ABC Bakers which operates out of Iowa. Through a network of distribution centers and contracts with three major trucking companies, cookies are shipped to the council in order for them to be dispersed. Beginning the first week of December, troops place their orders with a volunteer cookie manager who then coordinates with Macumber. Each troops’ orders are based on the previous year’s sales. More than $8 million in sales were generated over a 4-month period last year in this council alone.
Have you seen girl scouts selling cookies outside of select major retailers? Well, there are a handful of retailers that Girl Scouts of the USA contracts with such as Walmart and Joann Fabrics but locally, CBL Properties (Hanes Mall and Friendly Center), Lowes Foods, Lowes Home Improvement and Harris Teeter all participate. Macumber has a personal relationship with the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds hockey team; cookie booths are set up at each home game January through March.
According to Business Insider, Thin Mints are the second best-selling cookie in America, despite only being available January through April. Oreo is the only brand that eclipses this seasonal favorite.
Cookies are more than a zero-sum game for girl scouts. Lifelong lessons, skills and empowerment comes along with the annual program.
“With every season of cookies, another generation of girls learns five important skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics,” says Jaclyn Johnson, vice president of recruitment and marketing.
“All of the revenue — every penny after paying the baker — remains in the area where the cookies are sold and directly or indirectly benefits Girl Scouts in our local communities.”
Between 57 and 65 cents per box goes directly to each troop. There is a bonus incentive program where up to an additional 16 cents per box is awarded to troops who choose to participate. Intangible incentives such as overnight-camp opportunities, empowerment workshops and an all-council day at Wet N’ Wild Emerald Pointe are offered to all girl scouts in the area.
“This annual event and time-honored tradition is so much more than a sale,” Johnson adds. “Participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is just the beginning of all the things girls can do.”