A couple of months ago I put a post on my personal blog about becoming a Guider. The GirlGuidesCAN blog picked it up and after a short series of emails back and forth, I was asked to be a guest blogger, blogging about being a first-time Guider. This is the third in a series of posts about my first year in Guiding. Don’t forget to read my earlier posts: First Impressions, and My First Unit Meeting.
Girl Guide Cookies
As a never-been Girl Guide, I knew three things for sure about Girl Guides: they camp, they do crafts, they sell cookies.
I looked forward to that knock on the door every year when my mother would bring those lovely chocolate and vanilla cookies into the house. My sister and I would devour the chocolate row first and the vanilla would be left to languish in the box until my dad would sacrifice himself and finish them off.
I also knew, being a parent to a Spark for the last two years, that cookies are now sold in fall and spring and there are two kinds (mint rules!). I also knew that they cost $4 per box.
And that completes what I knew about Girl Guide Cookie sales. Until this year.
We’re a brand new Brownie Unit so no cookies had been ordered for us in the spring so I conservatively asked that 10 cases be set aside for our fledging Unit of four girls (we’re up to eight now!). It turns out that we could have sold four or five times that amount. Easily.
Ontario had a thing for mint cookies this year because we couldn’t beg, borrow or steal our way to more cookies after we initially got more from surplus (we ended up selling 35 cases). Which is a great thing for Ontario Units. We plan to order 50 cases for the spring, even with the price increase.
Can I plead the fifth here (even though “the fifth” has no bearing in Canada?)?! I’m new! I didn’t know! I’m slightly disorganized! I was very enthusiastic but maybe not so great about paperwork!
So, while all the money went into our account and we have more than enough to cover the invoice for cookies, I was not good (at all) about keeping track of a few things. First, let’s focus on what I was good at: who had cookies. I was good at that. And also, who helped sell cookies at group events. My girls will all get their Cookie All Stars badge.
After that, it all falls apart.
So, here is what I’m not good at (it’s a lengthy list but the first step is recognizing that you have a problem!):
- Noting how much came in as donations
- Noting how many cookies we sold during one event
- Noting if there is money in the cookie deposit from parents to cover uniforms etc. (Eep! Sorry Central Banking people! Remember… new at this! Have pity on me!)
For example, right now, I owe $10 to the bank account for cookie sales but tomorrow I’m making a deposit for much more than that as the last cookie sale deposit. Oops. Better than not having enough I guess.
As I said, the first step is recognizing you have a problem and so here is what I will do for the spring campaign as a way to learn from my mistakes: always have pen and paper to note down the amount of donations that came in and the number of boxes sold at any event and keep track of how many boxes were “tested” by the Unit.
Group vs. individual selling
We did two group-selling events and had a third booked but no cookies left to sell. I would say that from a fun factor, group-selling events are off the charts, whether it is door-to-door sales or a cookie blitz. The girls LOVE it. In fact, we had two girls start Brownies on the night we were doing our door-to-door sales. I thought they wouldn’t have a very good time but they were crazy with excitement at the thought of selling cookies door-to-door. And this is why we decided to do (and keep doing) door-to-door sales. We don’t sell a lot of cookies compared to a cookie blitz event but the girls have such a great time and learn so many skills that they can practise at each door that it is really worthwhile. And the cookie blitzes are great to build confidence, teamwork and sell a heck of a lot of cookies.
We had a few families take cases of cookies to sell as well. I know some Units insist that each family take a certain number of cases. We don’t. We can easily sell our cases at our cookie blitzes. If families want to take them (and if their co-workers demand that they bring them to the office), I’m happy to send cases home with the girls but our experience has been that it isn’t necessary (nor is it as fun for the girls). At least, it isn’t necessary so far. Who knows what the spring will bring?
Releasing the Hounds on an Unsuspecting Public (i.e. taking the girls cookie selling)
Chaos. Anarchy. Bathroom breaks.
That kind of describes what it’s like to take the girls cookie selling.
Fun. Confidence-building. Conflict resolution. Pride.
That also describes taking the girls cookie selling.
Taking girls door-to-door (at least at the Brownie level) requires more adults and more supervision than a cookie blitz. You have to be at the door with each pair of them at every house, you have to manage the money (while walking in the rain… those cookie envelopes do not hold up to rain!) and carry cases of cookies. It’s a slog for sure, but as I said, worth doing.
Cookies blitzes have a whole different set of challenges: making sure there are enough but not too many girls selling at one time, making sure the money is kept secure, having extra adults on hand to take girls to the bathroom (finding a bathroom!), refereeing arguments about who gets to sell cookies to the guy who just walked by (I SAW HIM FIRST! BUT YOU SOLD TO THE LAST PERSON!). Inquiring where one can get a post-cookie-selling drink.
But, wow… seeing a shy girl come out of her shell by the end of her “shift”, seeing the cookies fly out of the girls’ hands and the joy that comes with that, makes it totally worth it for us and them.
There’s a lot to keep track of (and learn) about Girl Guide Cookie sales. I think I’m getting a handle on it. But I’m also thankful that March is still a few months away! (Post-traumatic stress and all that…. )
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