Aly Gustavson’s goal to sell a hundred more boxes of Girl Scout cookies than last year seemed reasonable.
But then you find out that the 11-year-old from Lynnwood sold 2,300 boxes in 2018.
“My goal was to sell 2,400 boxes, but I didn’t want to stop selling because then I could get more cookie dough (Girl Scout lingo for cash and prizes),” Aly said.
So the fifth-grader who attends Edmonds Heights K-12 didn’t stop after selling 100 more. She didn’t stop after 200 more. Or even 300 more.
She sold 3,200 boxes of cookies this year, making her the top seller among the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. This year 16,045 girls in Western Washington sold 4.2 million packages. Thirty-nine girls sold 2,000 or more boxes and 537 girls sold more than 1,000 boxes.
A Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten, Aly has been the top cookie-seller of her troop for six years running. Her first year, she sold 500 boxes. The second year, she sold 1,200 boxes. The third year, she sold 1,600 boxes. Then she sold 1,900 boxes her fourth year and 2,300 her fifth year.
That’s a lot of Thin Mints.
All together, Aly’s troop, Lynnwood Troop 43866, made up of 11 Junior Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grades, sold more than 7,200 boxes of cookies, earning their troop nearly $6,000 in cookie dough to go toward earning badges, Girl Scout camp and other troop travel.
As the top cookie seller, Aly has earned a long list of prizes.
Here is just a sample: A custom pair of Converse shoes. A trip to Girl Scout horse camp. A Nintendo Switch gaming system.
Most of Aly’s cookie sales are thanks to repeat customers. Some have been ordering cookies from her since she was 5.
“As she’s gotten older, she has developed this customer base,” said Elliott Gustavson, Aly’s father and troop leader. “They love seeing her (each year) and they’ll buy from her until she stops selling.
“She has an amazing attitude,” he said.
Each year, Elliott and Bethany Gustavson, who also share cookie manager duties for the troop, sit down with their daughter and come up with a new sales plan for cookie season. This year, they divided their neighborhood into “cookie districts.”
“Our life is Girl Scouts,” Elliott Gustavson said.
Aly also has business cards and takes orders with an app on her tablet. But the sales tactic Aly’s most proud of are the door hangers she designed herself. The door hangers ask last year’s customers if they’d like the same order again. If they want to change their order, they check a box.
Of the 3,200 boxes sold, 1,100 were in presales. Elliott Gustavson, who works as a property manager in Kenmore, said most of the girls in Western Washington don’t do presales because it requires them to go door-to-door. They prefer cookie-booth sales in front of local grocery stores. In addition to going door-to-door and booth sales, Aly goes to community colleges and businesses, makes phone calls and sends emails.
Preorders may be more work, but they pay off for Aly. One customer preordered 15 boxes, and when Aly showed up to deliver them, she ordered seven more for a total of 22 boxes.
After spending about 100 hours selling and delivering cookies, Aly delivered her last cookie order March 17, for a Thin Mint and a Samoa.
“It felt nice to be done,” she said, explaining that cookie season lasts 60 days. “I enjoy the cookie season, but being done feels really good.”
When she’s not selling cookies, Aly is training in taekwondo (she’s a blue belt), hanging out with friends, going on camping trips and cooking family dinners.
She loves that Girl Scouts teaches her valuable leadership and outdoors skills. She knows how to build a fire, pitch a tent, cook around a campfire, tie knots and use a pocket knife. When the girls in her troop were 9 and 10, they did all the planning for a four-night stay in Leavenworth. They each were allotted $60 to spend at the Bavarian village.
This weekend, the troop has cashed in some of their proceeds to go to Girl Scout camp at St. Albans near Hood Canal.
“It’s a really amazing experience,” Aly said. “I’ve learned so many things.”
Aly has already set her cookie-selling goal for next year: A hundred more than last year.
That means 3,300 boxes.
Her troop is shooting for enough cookie dough for a trip to Hawaii.
“I’m pumped!” Aly said.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @sarabruestle.