By CHRISTINA M. CURRIE
Daily Press writer
They're hard to resist. Both the smiling, uniformed little girl and the popular cookie that's only available once a year.
That combination is what resulted in the sale of nearly 11,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the Craig area last year.
The deck is stacked against potential customers. Not only are there nearly 100 angelic girls between the ages of five and 12 selling cookies, they have been trained to sell, practicing their pitches on each other and their troop leaders to overcome any inhibitions.
This year, Girl Scouts have two new cookies to tempt the public: Ole Ole's, a reduced fat, bite-sized vanilla cookie with pecan chips, coconut and covered in powdered sugar and All Abouts, a shortbread with a rich fudge coating on the bottom. These two cookies join the popular Thin Mints, Samoas, Tag-a-Longs, Aloha Chip, Do-Si-Dos and Trefoils.
Violet Warne is a member of Becky Forquer's Brownie Troop, and she has perfected her approach to cooking selling.
"Hello, my name is Violet. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies," she says in her eight-year-old voice.
For those with the strength to resist, she leaves with a polite "Thank you," and moves on, and on, and on.
As one of the top cookie sellers last year, this third-year Scout won't stop selling until she reaches her goal. She has a patch from last year proclaiming her sales of more than 400 boxes of cookies and is aiming to earn a new patch for selling 600.
"She did a lot of walking last year," said Forquer.
And, she'll put more miles on her shoes this year.
"I ran around the neighborhood and took [the sales log sheet] everywhere I went," Warne said. "I took it to school and sold cookies to everyone I caught in the hall and in every room."
Most members of Forquer's troop set a goal of selling 50 boxes each. Last year, the 19-member troop sold 3,048 boxes.
The Girl Scouts started their two-week cookie campaign Friday. Customers have until Jan. 25 to order. After that, they'll have to catch the Scouts at one of several booths they will set up during February.
Each box of cookies costs $3, 13 percent of which stays in Craig. The money is used to fund Girl Scout activities, such as camping, bowling, ice skating or golfing. Each of the seven Craig troops decides how it will spend its profits.
"I think we should use it to buy things for crafts and go on trips," Warne said.
Warne's favorite part of being a Girl Scout is making crafts.
"We make magnets and Christmas ornaments. We make all sorts of stuff," she said.
Her troop also uses the money for community service projects, such as donating movies for children who are hospitalized at The Memorial Hospital or contributing cash to health care services for children.
According to Craig area Product Sales Manager Carol Wilson, the goal of Girl Scouts is to give its members life experiences they may not get alone. The organization was founded in 1912 as a counterpart of the existing Boy Scouts organization.
"They learn outdoor skills and first aid skills, something girls at that time weren't taught," Wilson said. "It's an educational organization driven by volunteers."
Craig's Scouts participate in several service projects including work with the senior citizens at Valley View Manor and sponsoring food drives. They also include activities where girls learn to apply math and science skills.
Selling cookies is not a competition between the girls. According to Wilson, the fund-raiser, as well as other Scout activities, is a lesson in teamwork and group decision making.
"The troops don't necessarily promote or emphasize the top seller," Wilson said. "Even if they just sell one box, they're learning."
"It's a troop effort and that's what works," Forquer said.
And, the campaign is a lesson for the girls as much as any other Scouting activity.
Cookie sales teach Girl Scouts how to interact with the public, how to handle money, how to sell and how to follow through.
"They really do learn some good interpersonal skills," Wilson said. "A good thing they learn is fulfillment of a promise. There's a lot of learning going on."
In addition to money for their troop, the cookie sellers earn Cookie Credits. Cookie Credits can be used for a Scouts' membership fees or to purchase the items they need for Girl Scouts, such as handbooks or uniforms. Troops earn Cookie Dough, which is the same as cookie credits, but given on a troop-wide scale.
Last year, 263,421 boxes of Girl Scout cookies were sold in western Colorado, earning troops nearly $170,000. The average Girl Scout in Craig earned between $200 and $300 last year.
"A lot of folks really want [Scouts] to come around," Wilson said. "They're pretty popular cookies. Craig customers are very appreciative of Girl Scout cookies. That's a lot of boxes to deliver."
Selling cookies is one of two Girl Scout fund-raisers. The girls also sell nuts in the fall.
"It's sort of a practice activity to hone their skills for cookie sales," Wilson said.
Residents who are not contacted by a Girl Scout and want to order cookies can call Wilson at 824-9649 and she will arrange to have a member visit them.
Cookies will be delivered starting Feb. 16.