Girl Scouts sell businesses on cookies’ allure

MARYSVILLE – Sarah Cain projected her most confident self, trying to hide a bit of nervousness, as she launched into her sales talk.

Kevin Nortz / The Herald

Girl Scout Sarah Cain, 15, pitches Girl Scout cookies as a customer incentive to Diane Dixon, co-owner of 3 D Automotive in Marysville.

Diane Dixon, owner of Marysville’s 3 D Automotive, listened attentively. Cain, wearing her Girl Scout uniform, flipped through plastic-covered pages illustrating key points of her pitch.

As a small business owner, Dixon is called frequently by vendors trying to make a sale. But few of those proposals come from a 15-year-old girl whose pitch revolves around Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs.

It’s the season when Girl Scouts are engaged in the annual ritual of selling cookies outside grocery stores and door-to-door. But some Scouts are trying their hand at more sophisticated sales methods, hoping to reap some real-world experience in the process.

“This year, it’s more like a part-time job,” Cain said of her cookie-selling, which as of Monday afternoon had netted sales of more than 600 boxes.

Cain, of Troop 2252, already had closed one business deal the previous week. The Arlington High School freshman sold dozens of cookie boxes to Smokey Point Buick Pontiac GMC.

That business will offer a free box to anyone who takes a test drive, said Steve Brown, the dealership’s general sales manager.

“There’s probably a bit of tension going in front of a businessman in a meeting, but she did such a good job, we thought we’d help her out,” Brown said.

Katie Hale, 17, of Lake Stevens also is pitching to businesses this year. So far, she’s done four presentations, with mixed results.

“The first was nerve-racking, but after that it’s been OK,” she said.

According to the Girl Scout Totem Council’s informal online poll, Thin Mints are the top choice of Puget Sound cookie lovers, favored by nearly a third of respondents. Thin Mints are also the national favorite. Samoas were second in the region, followed by Do-Si-Dos, Tre Foils and Cafe Cookies.

Cookie fans can vote at www. Click on the cookie sale icon.

Girl Scout cookies, $4 a box, are on sale through March 19.

Like Cain, Hale also is using more traditional sales methods such as standing outside supermarkets. However, there are advantages to making bulk sales to businesses, she said.

“It’s easier, because you have the potential to sell more all at once. But it’s harder, too, because you have to know just what to say,” Hale said.

Tina Johnson, director of marketing and communications at the Girl Scouts Totem Council office, said more Scouts are trying out cookie partnerships with businesses. One idea for the future is to have women sales executives give the Girl Scouts advice on sales tactics.

“It’s something we’re trying to offer more girls, and hope to get women role models involved in,” she said.

Sky Valley Troop 3037 has boosted its cookie sales with customized gift baskets that it sells to businesses. The baskets can be decorated with the business’s specific colors or logos, said troop member Laura Fox, 16.

“We’ve being doing this for three years and sold literally thousands of cookies this way,” said Fox, who lives in Sultan.

Fox said the experience gained from presenting to businesses is invaluable.

“What it teaches us most of all is how to communicate ideas in a business setting,” she said.

Cain and Hale both hope their cookie sales will raise enough money for a Girl Scout trip to New Zealand in July. As part of her presentation, Cain has a poster board display about the trip.

Cain said she would like to sell enough boxes of cookies so she can transfer some of her sales credits to other girls in her troop, helping them obtain their sales goals.

During her pitch, after thanking Dixon for her time, Cain talked about the importance of the organization that the cookie sales help support.

“For me, Girl Scouts has just been life-changing. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today,” Cain said.

She ended her pitch by telling Dixon that she could buy several cases of cookies and hand the boxes out as a customer incentive.

With the sales talk completed, Dixon offered some feedback, including that Cain’s plastic-covered pages were hard to see under the bright fluorescent lighting of her office.

“But if you were nervous, you hid it well,” she summed up, which elicited a smile from Cain.

The verdict? Dixon bought four cases of cookies to reward her customers.

Cain said that, if nothing else, the sales experience has helped her self-confidence.

“It’s helped in being able to talk to people and get my thoughts and ideas out clearly to people,” she said. “I used to be very shy.”

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or

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