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Did Girl Scout cookie sales put troops in debt?

That's what WCCO's recent report on the subject seems as if it'd like us to believe. The TV station's spin makes the situation out to seem like some sash-wearing, slave-driving Girl Scout Grand Poobah dumped a semi-load of cookies at each 10 year old's doorstep with orders to sell all of 'em--or be on the hook to buy all those boxes with her babysitting money.

Regardless of the issues associated with Girl Scout cookie sales--the bakers take too much of the money; the girls are peddling unhealthy, processed crap, etc.--WCCO's report that troops are getting ripped off is a little misleading.

Let's look at the facts a little closer:

This year, the Girl Scout council tried a new "Cookies Now" approach to selling cookies where, instead of taking orders, they pre-ordered as many cookies they believed they would sell and then toted them around for real-time sales. Trouble is, WCCO reports, that many troops didn't sell all the cookies they ordered and have racked up big debts to the Girl Scout Council, citing the shocking figure that one Brooklyn Park troop has 1,500 boxes and owes the Girl Scout Council $4,500!

But two factors about the report were blatantly misleading. First, Amelia Santenello states that troops were "given a certain number of cookies," which seems to imply that they had no agency in the decision. Instead, the troops decided the size of the order they should place.

More importantly, troops can return all unopened cases (12 boxes) of cookies to the Girl Scout Council. Sure, this is inconvenient, but if a troop is left with 125 opened cases, it sounds like a case of poor planning on their part. (Also, in the CBS report, Frank Vascellaro misstates this information as only unopened "boxes" of cookies will be taken back--as if we'd think the Council would want a half-eaten sleeve of Thin Mints.)

If troops don't want to sell cookies and look to other fundraising opportunities, that's totally their decision. But it seems that the problem of excess cookies might be seen as a challenge--a great way to inspire some initiative and creativity from the next generation of sales people/marketers. In addition to going door-to-door, Girl Scouts can often be spotted at tables outside grocery stores, etc. In fact, New York City troops have set up pop-up shops in each borough to get rid of the rest of their inventory.

If you'd rather avoid the whole scene and make your own Girl Scout cookies, check out these recipes.


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