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Parents: Don’t sell your daughter’s Girl Scout cookies for them

Bellevue Brownie Leila Kwong set a goal to sell 800 boxes of cookies this season. (Photo courtesy of Rachael Kwong)

It’s Girl Scout cookie season and 16,000 western Washington girls are hitting the pavement to sell you your annual fix of Thin Mints and Tagalongs.

While a lot of girls do the selling themselves, I think we’ve all encountered the “cookie parent” who brings the order form into work to sell for their daughter. These parents have the best of intentions, but it’s not exactly what the Girl Scout organization wants to see.

“A lot of people don’t know about the skills that girls learn by selling cookies,” said Stefanie Ellis, VP of marketing for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. “They’re learning decision making, goal setting, money management.”

This is 8-year-old Brownie Leila Kwong’s third year selling cookies. Her parents have challenged her to knock on the doors of neighbors she doesn’t know, which has helped her come out of her shell.

“I’ve gotten much braver than a few years ago,” Leila said. “I used to be very quiet, but now I’ve gotten much braver. My fear disappeared, kind of. I wasn’t as scared.”

Her mom, Rachael Kwong, said Leila’s troop leader teaches the girls how to interact with strangers and how to gracefully and politely respond when someone says they don’t want to buy a box.

“We definitely helped a lot the first year when she was in kindergarten. Both her father and I brought the order forms to work. As she’s gotten older it’s, ‘how can we make this girl-led?’ That’s one of the values that Girl Scouts really emphasizes is have it be girl led. She has this goal, and I can do all the marketing for her to help her get that goal, but is she really going to learn from this experience? Even today, I’ll post on Facebook to all my friends that Leila is selling cookies but if someone wants to order, she has to be the one to reach out to them directly to get that order.”

One way to order is online. The Girl Scouts have a digital cookie website and each girl has their own web page, where you can order cookies that will either be delivered by the scout or shipped to your door. This is the perfect way for grandma in Connecticut to support her granddaughter in Bellevue, and the only way to pay with a credit card.

“Each girl gets her own digital platform where they can market the cookies and they can customize it with either a photo of themselves doing something Girl Scouty or make their own video,” Rachael said.
“Leila does a nice, personalized video for her website but she also sends out lots of little videos when someone is interested in ordering that she’s not right in front of. This was a way of engaging her in a way that she enjoys and, of course, her customers really love getting a personal video where she’s asking them directly if they want to buy, or thanking them for buying.”

Troops get to keep a portion of their cookie sales, which often goes back into the community.

Help homeless Seattle Girl Scouts meet their cookie-selling goal

“When you see girls selling cookies, go up to them and challenge them,” Ellis said. “Ask them, ‘What are you going to do with your cookie money? What are your sales goals?’ What you’re doing is helping them learn those important business skills.”

If a parent does bring an order form to the office, Ellis suggests involving the Girl Scout somehow. The girl can write a personal note that gets attached to the cookie form, that includes her sales goals and a thank you to future customers, or have the girl personally deliver the cookies when they come in.

I asked Leila what her troop will do with the cookie money.

“We’re going to buy toiletries for The Sophia Way,” Leila said. “It’s a place where poor people can go and be able to have food, and stay warm, and not be outside in the cold.”

Girl Scouts are out and about now with their order forms, pre-selling cookies to family, friends, and neighbors. They’ll start setting up tables outside grocery stores Feb. 28, and cookie season ends March 15.

Listen to Rachel’s podcast, Your Last Meal.

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