How Not to Sell Girl Scout Cookies: A Cautionary Tale

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

My daughter is 7, and a Brownie. Her troop mostly does fun things, like going to the animal shelter or bringing baskets to local veterans. I’m grateful to the moms who organize these trips and badge-getting opportunities, as it’s really not my thing, and we try to stay on top of what’s needed on our end as somewhat passive Brownie parents. So far, we have managed reasonably well…up until the cookies.

I’m usually the slacker parent who makes my kids handle these things alone, but for some mysterious reason, I chose this to be the thing I would get super involved in. It seemed like the right choice at the time. After all, there are life lessons to be learned from selling Girl Scout cookies, which a former Girl Scout recently wrote about on CNN:

1. Marketing. My daughter would have to talk people into buying cookies.

2. Rejection. My daughter would have to try to sell cookies to people who would say no, and she’d need to deal with that.

3. Courage. It’s not easy to approach strangers when you’re 7—in fact there’s a lot of talk about NOT approaching strangers when you’re 7—but if you’re selling cookies, you have to be brave enough to talk to people you don’t already know.

Check, check, and check. All of these particular tests of cookiedom actually went quite well for us, and my daughter passed her marketing, rejection, and courage tests with flying colors.

So what did I screw up?

It started with really bad idea to sell them to people I used to work with. I was underemployed at the time, and the kids had yet another day off school (don’t get me started), so we hopped on the train to Manhattan and went to three different offices where I still knew a fair number of people. My daughter walked around with her forms and a pen and her super-cute face and sold cookies, while I collected the money.

She sold so many! I congratulated myself on my clever strategy.

Then I came home, and my mother-in-law called. I told her about my great idea and how successful it was. And then she asked how I was going to carry all those boxes of cookies on the train when they finally arrived.


Walking around with a form and an envelope of cash is one thing; taking a train and two subways with a crapload of cookie boxes is another. And by the time the shipment came in, I was working again, which probably meant taking half a day off just to deliver all those damned cookies.

Now for the really dumb part.

The cookies had to be picked up from one of the Brownie Moms’ houses. In my scramble to make sure I had my lists of who ordered what—which I didn’t need, because official Cookie Mom was far more organized than I’ll ever be in my entire life—I knocked an entire cup of coffee into my computer keyboard.

It got worse.

After I picked up the cookies, I had to make my way out of the Cookie Mom’s arched stone driveway, backwards, and slammed the car into their iron gate. It took me another excruciating and humiliating five or ten minutes to get out of her driveway. And then I came home, saw the damage I’d just done to my brother’s car, and ate an entire box of Samoas by myself, as if that would help turn things around.

So now, I have a damaged car, a stomach full of Samoas, and ten cartons of cookies to sort through and deliver to the city, possibly by myself, or possibly with my daughter, whom I will have turned into a delinquent by pulling her out of school to give her cookie closure.

So here is my final advice on how NOT to sell Girl Scout cookies:

1. Don’t sell them anywhere that’s hard to get to, requires multiple subways, or is only open during the day on weekdays. And especially don’t sell them at offices that are within two blocks of the perpetually and infuriatingly crowded Times Square.

2. Don’t try to sell a LOT of them. Be happy with just a few.

3. Don’t order extras “just in case,” because you will eat them.

4. Don’t order Samoas for yourself. They are evil and irresistible. There is no such thing as one Samoa. There is only the entire box.

5. If you have the Samoa problem I have, read this article. If you’re smarter than I am, it will deter you from eating a second box. Maybe.

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