Let the sales begin.
Girl Scout cookie season started Friday in Lawrence County, and troop members from kindergarten through 12th grade have been mapping out their strategies in preparation.
Parker Dayton, the 13-year-old daughter of Neshannock Service Unit manager Jenn Dayton, has been selling cookies since kindergarten. She encourages other Scouts “to try to stay organized and smile, because people usually smile back.”
High school sophomore Orianna Green, daughter of Laurel Service Unit Manager Kristin Green, believes “you just have to get out there and talk to people,” while ninth-grader Koryn Kent added, “and not be weird about it; just be polite.”
Still, perhaps the simplest and most compelling sales pitch came from 6-year-old Daisy Scout Kayla Mackrell, who is preparing for her first-ever cookie sale.
What would she tell a customer?
“It’s for Girl Scout stuff,” the Laurel youngster said, adding that she wants to use the money she raises to go to camp.
Still, the Scouts get more out of the annual sales than just funding for their themselves and their troops, according to Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.
“From real-world business experiences in marketing, people skills, and money management to the adventures made possible by each sale, participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program can truly change a girl’s path,’ she said.
Both the 60-member Neshannock and 114-member Laurel service units held kickoff rallies this week. Each event featured discussions about sales and safety, as well as some special activities.
At Neshannock, the girls got to sample each variety of the cookies being sold, including the new Lemon Ups. The cookies — Kayla’s favorite — are a crispy, citrus-flavored wafer stamped with positive messages such as “I Am a Leader” and “I Am a Go-Getter.”
"Sampling the cookies is a good way for the girls to learn about the product,” Jenn Dayton explained.
The Neshannock scouts also got to vote for their favorite cookie, and were quizzed on how they would describe each one to a potential customer. In addition, they broke into one group to learn such people skills as introducing themselves and being confident in their message, and another to hone their math prowess, using practice order sheets and imitation money.
They also received “digital cookie” instructions.
“They can go online and create a digital cookie page,” Dayton said, “and they get to do a little video, and they can email that out to their friends, family and relatives. Customers have the opportunity, then, to buy online and they can either have the cookies delivered to them, or the girls can deliver them.”
At Laurel, rally activities included a cookie relay, in which teams raced to dress a teammate in a cookie costume complete with a tray full of cookie boxes; the creation of a SWAP, which Kristin Green translated as “Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned” for the girls’ vests; and a T-shirt design station.
The T-shirt designs are voted on by the unit’s volunteer committee, and the winner is printed on shirts provided to each girl and leader.
“That’s one of those stations that you’re not allowed to get rid of," Green said, "because everybody looks forward to it.”
Individual cookie sales last through the end of January. Later, though, troops from around the county will be doing booth sales at various locations.
“We can continue selling until supplies last,” Dayton said. “But typically, they don’t last long, so you’ve got to get them while you can. They freeze well, they make good gifts, so buy them now, put them in the freezer, and they last throughout the year.”
Heeding that advice, many buyers arrange for their purchases in advance.
While Oriana Green and Koryn Kent said they traditionally start by selling to family and friends, sophomore Julianna McConnell revealed that she begins at school.
“I’m going to beat you in that,” Koryn challenged.
“I don’t think so,” Julianna responded. “All the teachers already asked me.”
Kristin Green confirmed that, indeed, many of her girls already had clients lined up, just waiting for Friday arrive.
“I’ve been getting emails and text messages all week about, ‘When do cookie sales start?’ ” she said. “It’s an annual event, and the whole community looks forward to cookie season.”