Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Inaugural Girl Scout Cookie Booth

If I've been absent here more often than not this month, it's because I've been sucked down the Girl Scout cookie rabbit hole.

The kids are really into selling Girl Scout cookies. REALLY into it. They each have a goal of selling 200 boxes of cookies (I had to talk Syd down from making a goal of two THOUSAND boxes!), and they have been busting their butts to try to make that happen. I'm a little concerned, because they're each only at 114 boxes right now, and they have to split every order because they work as a team, so that's really more like 172 more boxes that they have to sell this month, but I digress...

Anyway, not only do the kids like this cookie-selling business, but it's also great for them. It's marketed as the world's largest girl-led business, and I can totally see that--the kids are learning about inventory, keeping accounts, managing money, marketing, sales techniques, philanthropy, figuring out how to meet their goals, and we haven't even talked about what their troop is going to do with their profits. That will be a whole bunch more planning and budgeting and philanthropy!

Of course, as young as the kids are, this is also a lot of work for the parents. And my whole troop is young. AND this is our first year in the cookie business! This is really stretching my abilities at money managing and keeping inventory and accounts, not to mention all the people skills that *I* have to practice as I assist the children. I'm not so much a people person, so it's kind of emotionally exhausting to do it for two hours at a stretch at a cookie booth, but good for me, too, of course.

The kids spent a lot of time last week preparing for their first Girl Scout cookie booth on Sunday. They didn't know what to expect, so I guided them into creating something like an academic fair display, since they've done those many times. Their centerpiece was a giant tri-fold menu that showcases each cookie:
I printed giant photos of each cookie (thank you, Google Image!).
The kids cut them out. Check out my reluctant cutter there!
They gave me the paper that they wanted for the background, and I glued and trimmed the background paper for them. They placed and taped the images and wrote the "menu."
They got a little distracted.
This was supposed to be an advertisement for buying cookies by the case, but we didn't have room for it on the table. I'm not sure what to do about that before our next booth.
 The kids also took photos of some of their Girl Scout friends, in uniform and holding several boxes of a cookie to recommend, and then I wrote each kid's quote next to her photo, along with her first name and age. That turned out particularly cute, I thought.

During their field trip to The Green Nursery last week, the kids picked up the idea to offer "prizes" to good customers, so I helped them make bookmarks out of empty cookie boxes:

A customer who purchased five boxes of cookies was invited to pick a prize.

And here the kids are at their booth!

Will did an amazing job with the customers--where did that shy little girl GO?!?--but Syd found it more of a challenge:

Good for her to stretch herself, though. People skills are VERY important!

Overall, the cookie booth went very well, although I wish now that we'd done a smaller-scale "practice" booth first; this Wal-mart booth was our biggest spot for the year, and we didn't meet the sales that I'd been told to expect. But now I know some things to encourage for next time: the kids had prizes for people who bought five boxes of cookies, for instance, but didn't tell the customers about them unless they purchased five boxes. At the next booth, the kids can announce that there are prizes, especially if they see a customer picking up three or four boxes to purchase. The kids also had a display for Operation Cookie Drop, but also didn't announce anything about it to their customers. At the next booth, the kids can ask customers if they'd also like to donate four dollars to OCD; Will started trying this while delivering a few pre-orders the next day, and although she didn't get any full $4 donations, one customer did let her keep the change from her purchase--that can definitely add up!

We've got another cookie booth this weekend, and the kids plan to spend more time this week refining their display; they want something on the front of that tablecloth, so I'll have to drag the felt out for them, and they need a way to fit in the extra advertising that was on that one display board that didn't fit their table.

Their booth is also on Valentine's Day, so I'm going to bring up the idea of doing some extra marketing towards that--the kids might want to encourage customers to buy cookies as a gift, perhaps with free gift wrapping or Valentine's Day cards. I have a list of Girl Scout cookie and wine pairings that I plan to print out.

And I have a HUGE piece of cardboard. I really, really, really want to make a sandwich board for a kid to wear...

P.S. Speaking of Operation Cookie Drop... The kids were looking for more ways to get donations, so I put a Paypal Donate button for Operation Cookie Drop up at the top left of my blog. A $4 donation will buy a box of Girl Scout cookies for our military. It's a way to get Girl Scout cookies into the hands of people who super want them, but aren't home to get them!


Tina said...

May I suggests a second donate button where the amount can be set by the person donating? I'd like to buy another three boxes for OCD (Operation Cookie Drop, not obsessive-compulsive disorder...), but I would prefer just one transaction if possible. I know, I'm high maintenance.

Emma and I just watched a TedEd talk about left-handedness (her Da is left-handed). It was pretty interesting.

The booth looks great! Learning all this about the Girl Scouts makes me look at the whole thing differently. Instead of seeing them as leeches, now I seem them as young business women.

julie said...

You'll have to send me the link to that Ted talk--I want to see it, too!

I was formerly not a fan of Girl Scout cookies, either, but it's really a remarkable program, I've discovered. Unlike most other fundraisers, where the administration decides how to spend the profits, with Girl Scout cookies, the girls decide. They're encouraged to use some money for something philanthropic and some money for something fun for the whole troop, but it's their decision and their planning. I think it must feel really empowering to them, too. The adults are the facilitators to all this, sure (especially with a young troop like mine), but the money is the kids' to both earn and use. I've heard of troops who choose to spend all their profit at a weekend at a water park together--not what the parents would choose to spend their money on, maybe, but definitely a bonding experience for the kids--and troops who choose to spend their profit on school supplies for orphans in another country. Hopefully at the end of cookie season, my troop will have enough money to take a weekend trip, and to make those little first aid kits that I was going on about in my post today, but we'll have to see what the kids want!

Tina said...

Totally cool. I hope your troop does well.

Here is the link for the left-handed teded.

Off to research more about button makers!