Area Girl Scout Troops prepare for National Cookie Weekend, kicking off booth sales

The Girl Scouts Brownie Troop 1077 ran back and forth between tables during their troop meeting as they hurriedly chose paint colors to splatter on their collective mural.

The second- and third-graders had to hurry and finish because the mural will be their calling card, the masterpiece that will draw customers to their cookie booth outside of Hy-Vee in Mt. Pleasant on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 1 to 5 p.m.

This kicks off National Cookie Weekend, the beginning of Scout sales outside area grocery stores, gas stations and fast food joints. National Cookie Weekend, which is Feb. 23-25, gives girls the opportunity to reach out to more customers in their communities.

The girls in Troop 1077 are ready to face the crowds. Armed with the knowledge she gained from rehearsal sales and the confidence of having a friend by her side, Madison Ford ran up to Rachel McWilliams during their troop meeting to excitedly announce they were scheduled to sell together this Sunday.

?We practiced selling cookies with our parents with fake money,? Ford said, adding that they crafted boxes of their favorite cookies (hers being Thin Mints) to pretend to sell to their parents.

Although she didn?t seem shy as she chatted with McWilliams about cookie sales, Ford said she is sometimes scared in front of people but is learning she doesn?t have to be.

?I talk a lot in school,? Ford said. ?Talking to people for cookie sales, it?s the same as talking with my best friend.?

McWilliams said her trick to overcoming nerves when talking to customers is just to face it. ?When you do it over and over again, you don?t get as scared,? she said.

Brownie Charlize Mullin too expressed some hesitation when it comes to talking to strangers.

?I?m going to try not to be shy,? Mullin said. ?I feel like I?m going to be awesome at it (selling cookies) ? and just a little shy,? she added, stressing the word ?little.?

This pretty much summarizes every girl?s excitement and anxieties about cookie booth sales. Dawn Hixson, co-director for Henry County Girl Scouts, said that selling cookies is important beyond raising money for the Scouts because it teaches girls social skills, confidence, money management and leadership.

?Basically, it?s gotten my girls out of their shell,? Dawn said, talking about her own children. ?My two girls have grown significantly from when they started out as Daisies. The first few cookie booths, they sat there quietly and looked at the floor. Now they?re doing much better.?

Leader of Troop 1077, Cindi McWilliams said that at this stage, the second- and third-graders are pretty young to be asking strangers at the stores if they would like to buy Girl Scout Cookies, but by the end of the season, they will be selling confidently, smiling and saying please and thank you.

?It does take some confidence,? McWilliams said.

Angie Butcher, whose daughter is Brownie Addison Butcher, said that while her daughter is already quite outgoing, she appreciates how cookie sales teach the girls to set a goal and work toward it.

Rebecca Krause, whose daughter is Brownie Audrey Murphy, said she is very impressed by the math skills she displays when selling cookies. ?That?s something I didn?t teach her,? Krause said.

During the Cadettes meeting for Troop 9565 on Thursday, Feb. 15, Cadettes Maggie Peterson, Abbey Perry, Tori Hixson and Amber Hixson talked about how proud they were to be veteran Scouts, and how they shared what they?ve learned over the years with the younger troops during a Cookie Rally in January.

The girls took on the role of teacher as they trained the younger troops in the proper protocols and procedures that are a part of selling Girl Scout Cookies.

Amber said that when teaching, it?s hard to know where to start. ?They?re going to have their own way (of selling), but there are also rules.? Amber said one of the most important reminders is that Scouts must always have their vests on when selling.

Tori said her mom reminds her to say it loud, proud and be polite, which is something she relayed to the younger Scouts. When people walk past her and say they?ve already bought cookies that year, instead of badgering them, she says, ?Thank you for supporting Girl Scouts.?

A proud mother, Tina Peterson said that Troop 9565 has been the top sellers since they were in second grade. Even though as sixth- and seventh-graders, they still find it a little nerve-wracking to do cookie booth sales, their experience has given them coping mechanisms.

Peterson, who initially set a goal of selling 2,500 boxes of cookies but lowered it to 1,001 at the advice of her mother, said the cookies pretty much sell themselves. Even with the cookies selling themselves, she still finds herself biting her nails and fidgeting when talking to customers. Now, she holds her hands behind her back and makes a point to speak more slowly.

?I?m a really loud person, but at first I sound nervous when talking to strangers,? Peterson said, adding that it helps to have her mother by her side. ?Mom boosts confidence and makes you sell harder,? she said.

Selling cookies is also a good lesson in organization, with each girl walking out of the January Cookie Rally with the tools to have their very own Cookie Command Center at home. This includes organizing order forms, having a pencil and calculator holder, playing safety bingo to know how to stay safe while doing door to door and booth sales, and coloring pages for the younger Scouts.

Dawn said these Cookie Command Centers gives girls the chance to feel comfortable using their own space. ?It?s their personal desk,? she said.

In addition to stopping by Hy-Vee for a Girl Scout cookie fix, Troops also will be stationed at Family Video, Fast Break, BP, Casey?s and Wal-Mart throughout the weekend.