Sunday, February 28, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies: Try them for breakfast

It's that time of year. Time to ignore the fact that you could purchase three boxes from the Keebler Elf for the price of one box from a member of the Girl Scouts of America.

The cookies are packaged quite cleverly, especially the Thin Mints. Once you open a row, the cellophane literally disintegrates; you can't just twist the plastic back up like you can with a roll of Ritz Crackers. So naturally, you're compelled to eat far more than you had initially planned, sometimes the entire row. It's actually deliciously easy. Try to pop one whole cookie into your mouth. I'll bet you can.

My nine-year-old daughter is now part of the legion of cherubic, guilt-inducing, green-clad sprites who invade our lives every February and March. She accompanied me into my employer's office about a month ago, to solicit orders for her "pre-sale." All she really had to do was walk around the floor for an hour, wearing her scout sash over her purple piece sign t-shirt, her red velvet capri pants and her imitation UGG boots. This is her A-list outfit—the one she wears to close a deal.

The girl didn't even speak; she needed to merely ask one simple question:
"How many boxes would you like?"

And provide a few rudimentary answers:
"They're four dollars a box...Yeah, I know it's a lot, but it's for a good cause."
"Samoas are my favorite. But they're all really good...sure, you can buy one box of each."
"Yeah, I think my dad's really obnoxious, too. But can you buy some anyway?"

She sold 84 boxes in an hour. Amway should be so easy.

The other phase of the sale, which we performed yesterday, was the "site sale" activity, where you set up a cookie table at the entrance to a grocery store. This is a bit more challenging, but the cute factor really proves to be the sharpest arrow in the girl scout quiver. The scouts must adhere to some basic rules, such as not soliciting people to buy until they leave the store. We developed a technique which we felt led to increased sales, but didn't break this tenet.

The girls simply smiled, established eye contact with each customer who entered the store and said, "Hi." Occasionally, someone, usually a kind, older woman, would walk right over and purchase from us. Or, they'd remember us and buy on the way out. It's a great study in human nature, because once face-to-face acknowledgment occurs, the sale is all but done. Either that, or the person offers up some warm encouragement.

Some individuals go to extremes to avoid any eye contact whatsoever. We witnessed people listening to iPods and talking on phones at the same time, while others craned their necks painfully hard in the opposite direction of our table. I've never seen so many people so interested in Duraflame logs on their way out of a grocery store.

It's not lost on me that I live in Seattle, the passive aggressive, fake-nice capital of Earth. Yet we experienced so much literal kindness. Some people couldn't eat sugar, so they donated a box; one lady donated five. Another woman handed us a twenty and said, "Just spend it where you see fit." That actually came at a great time, since I needed some Saturday night beer money (I'm kidding, for all you know).

The only improvement I might suggest for next year, is a special Seattle area, vegan thin mint, delivered in smart cars by free range bakers.

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