NJ Girl Scouts learn the art of the cookie sale

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

It’s that time of year. Girl Scout Cookies season is underway. Senior Girl Scout Shirell Battle is determined to sell 1,000 boxes.

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of talking to people, getting them to buy a little more,” said Battle.

“The secret to a really good cookie sale is just having a smile on your face and really advertising to people, making them feel like they matter,” said Senior Girl Scout Isabella Pereira.

The famous cookies have been part of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America since 1917.

“Originally, Juliette Gordon Low and her Girl Scouts in Georgia baked sugar cookies in order to help raise funds for some of their Girl Scouts activities. Then, in 1933, right close to here in New Jersey, in the city of Philadelphia, the first commercial production of Girl Scout Cookies was launched,” said Ginny Marino, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey.

The program is focused on teaching girls life skills like decision making, business ethics and goal-setting.

“We want to sell 500. That’s what my mommy said,” said Daisy Girl Scout Samara Potter.

“Each year, I look at what I sold last year for individual cookie sales, and I try to increase that every year by at least 20 percent. And so far I’ve been very successful in that,” said Pereira.

“It’s almost like a business in a sense,” said Battle. “You’re receiving money, have to be able to manage it, as well as have people skills for people to be able to approach you and feel welcome.”

“Last year, 96 percent of our parents whose daughters participated in the cookie program, in a survey, told us their daughter learned a skill they don’t know she would have learned anywhere else,” said Marino.

When girls sell door-to-door and at cookie booths, they’re joined by adult volunteers.

“They guide the girls through the cookie experience through learning all about the goals they set,” said Teresa Russo, service unit cookie manager in East Brunswick.

Before the girls start selling, many choose to enroll in a crash course called “Cookie College.” It’s a one-day session where they learn how to interact with customers, manage cash, set financial goals, and they’re also coached on how to make a sales pitch.

The girls are also learning how to reach an even larger customer base online or with their app.

“The digital platform gives girls an opportunity to not just go door-to-door or to cookie booths, it gives them an opportunity to reach out to family members or friends who don’t live in their area,” said Girl Scout Mahiyah Sampson.

The proceeds fund the troop’s activities and a portion supports the local Girl Scout Council operations. The girls also donate to charities and other community service projects.

“It makes me feel good because it feels like we’re helping other people,” said Girl Scout Emily Reiss.

Some of the girls want to pursue a career in business. Marino says even if that’s not their chosen path, they’re creating a foundation for a successful future.

“For me and what I hear from girls, so very often, is the Girl Scout Cookies program helps them to find their voice of assertion and confidence,” said Marino.

The girls still have a lot of work ahead of them — they’re selling cookies until mid-March.