QUEENSBURY — Nora Kennelly stood outside Walmart holding a sign that read “Cookies are here!” and shuffled her feet around, trying to keep warm in 35-degree temperatures Saturday afternoon.
“We’re like mailmen,” said Troop Leader Linda Hill. “No rain, sleet, snow (will keep us from our appointed rounds).”
Nora asked people politely on their way into the Quaker Road Walmart if they wanted to buy cookies.
Many said no.
Some just walked right past.
“Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Maelin Hastings, 11, asked, as people hurried into the store, shaking their heads. “That happens so much today.”
Girl Scouts have been hawking their cookies for 101 years, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.
In July 1922, a Girl Scouts magazine featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois, who provided a cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six to seven dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents, according to the Girl Scout website.
Today, the Girl Scouts offer up about 11 different kinds of cookies, including Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, Lemonades, Savannah Smiles, Thanks-A-Lot and Trios, which sell for $5 a box. Two flavors — Girl Scout S’mores and the gluten-free Toffee-Tastic — cost $6 a box.
After initial door-to-door sales and online sales through Digital Cookie, the “goal-getters” embark on booth sales. Troops have to register for the competitive booth sales. It’s all about location.
Stewart’s stores seem to be the most popular sites, as well as the Walmarts. Getting the best dates and times is key.
“Do you want Sundays after church?” Hill said. “And some locations sell better than others — the Stewart’s on this street or that street.”
Troop 3141 was hoping to sell at least 200 boxes during the cold four-hour shift at Walmart on Saturday, with a goal of selling 3,000 boxes as a troop. The troop goal is a summer-time trip to Washington to visit the White House and monuments.
Booth sales teach the girls money management, public speaking and the importance of setting and reaching goals.
“We’ve had them since they were kindergartners, and they have definitely become more well-spoken with how to approach their customers,” said Troop Leader Elizabeth Kenny, who added that the girls learn manners and other skills that are “lacking in society nowadays.”
The girls also set personal goals for themselves like selling enough boxes to attend Cookie Camp or win other prizes. Kenny said some goals are more meaningful.
“Our troop hands out boxes of cookies to the veterans that they see along the Memorial Day parade,” Kenny said. “All of the girls enjoy handing them out. They’ve gotten really good at spotting the veterans’ hats.”
Sisters Evelyn and Ellie Crider work as a team and conduct “sister sales,” selling more than 1,000 boxes during cookie season. The Crider sisters set up a booth outside Stewart’s for three hours before manning the booth at Walmart on Saturday.
When asked what she learned from six years of selling cookies, Evelyn, 12, grabbed a box of Samoas and read the side of the box.
“Leadership, how to manage money, goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, business ethics,” Evelyn said.
“Clearly, it teaches you how to use your resources,” her mother, Val Crider, laughed.
Close by, Brooke Bousquet, 10, stood inside a Thin Mint cookie costume with white sequined earmuffs on her head. She danced the “floss” and sang, “Buy some cookies, they’re very delicious.”
“We make sure we come prepared,” Evelyn said, displaying the hand-warmer she had tucked inside her glove.
“She has snow pants in the car,” her mother said.