The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Girl Scout cookie program lost purpose


I’m not sure if you’re hearing what’s going on outside of major stores this weekend.

It’s the sound of nothing, and I couldn’t be happier.

Last weekend marked the final opportunity to buy Girl Scout cookies, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying the last few weeks have been a little nerve-wracking.

“Do you want to buy Girl Scout Cookies?” No, I don’t, but I can’t tell a 7-year-old girl a flat-out no. “I’m sorry, miss. I have no cash on me.”

She changes her tactic. “We take cards.” Dang, now I have to pretend I am deaf.

Whoops, I forgot one item I needed. Let’s try another store. Another table set up, this time manned mostly by adults who know my name.

“I know you want cookies, Kevin.” I think you’re a little old to be a scout, and I think I’m going to start grocery shopping at 9 p.m.

I’ll randomly see a flyer on a bulletin board. “We still have some Pecan Sandies left. Call 575-555-2341 and ask for Phil.” Oh, what troop are you in, Phil?

Aren’t girls supposed to be selling these things?

At least, that’s what I insist on. A family I’ve long been friends with has a daughter. She comes by the office every year, and every year I buy my four boxes to help out.

Even though I have no plans to delineate from my “two Samoas, one Tagalog, one Thin Mints” purchase, I ask her about the products she offers and the prices for everything this year, or I ask her how to fill out the order form. I don’t buy from anybody else, because I want to demonstrate loyalty.

The program is about more than cookies; if it weren’t, I’d just buy whatever the Keebler elves made for $2 less inside the grocery store. The Girl Scout Cookies program is about teaching girls to interact with the public, create a selling and distribution plan and then execute.

I wondered why that doesn’t seem to ring as true anymore. Why are the sellers so aggressive, and more adult-aged? I asked around, and asked different people because I knew nobody would give me the full answer.

Remember a few years ago, when the “order now, pay and receive later” model was supplemented with, “Nah, you can get ‘em now” distribution?

That came at a cost — just not to the parent organization. Troop leaders have to buy when stock is available, and then see if the girls can sell it.

If not, they’ve got to eat the rest, no pun intended. But at least they pay a reduced rate, right? Wrong. From what I’ve been told, the cookies are the same price at the supply truck and the grocery store entrance. The parent organization pays troops at the end for what it sells, and it doesn’t reimburse anybody left holding a box.

It sounds like the parent organization has guaranteed itself great sales by transferring all of the risk onto troop leaders and parents. I know I’d hate to be a parent, trying to walk the thin line between, “We didn’t buy enough, and now my daughter thinks I didn’t have faith in her,” and looking at an unsold case at home in May and wondering what that $50 should have bought my family. If I were them, I’d do everything I could to get those cookies sold, even if it meant my daughter didn’t really sell all of those cookies and sarcastic columnists disapproved.

I’m sure the perfect balance will be found some year between instant cookie gratification and giving a safety net to girls who might not be born sellers. Until then, I’ll stick with, “Thanks, but I bought at the office.”

Kevin Wilson is managing editor for the Clovis office of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at: [email protected]


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