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Keeping the cookie cupboard organized

Kace Wilson coordinates the sale of Girl Scout cookies for 45,000 scouts in Eastern Massachusetts. She gets assistance from 17,000 volunteers spread across 178 communities. Kace Wilson coordinates the sale of Girl Scout cookies for 45,000 scouts in Eastern Massachusetts. She gets assistance from 17,000 volunteers spread across 178 communities. (Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe)
By Cindy Atoji Keene
Globe Correspondent / January 11, 2009
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When Kace Wilson goes to the cupboard, it's never bare. On the contrary, it's usually filled with thousands of cookies - on this particular day, there are 12,600 boxes to be exact. And not just any cookies, but the iconic Girl Scout cookies: Thin Mints, the top seller, as well as Peanut Butter Patties, Shortbreads, and the newer Daisy Go Rounds and Thanks-A-Lot.

Wilson is responsible for coordinating the annual cookie sale for more than 45,000 girls, with the help of 17,000 volunteers spread throughout 178 communities in Eastern Massachusetts. As product sales manager, Wilson plans, organizes, and implements the council cookie sale, which runs Jan. 2 to March 15.

"It's a real logistical challenge," says Wilson, who does everything from helping parents load up to 800 boxes in a car to making sure that late-paying troops (yes, they exist, even in Girl Scouts) send the money in. Wilson didn't want to say how much she earns, but according to Salary.com, the median salary for a regional sales manager is around $96,000.

Wilson didn't major in cookies in college, "but it's close, I studied consumer science." She is, however, a third-generation cookie seller. Her mother's home was a "cupboard" for Girl Scout cookies in the San Jose, Calif., region.

"As a Girl Scout selling cookies, I gained the self-confidence to approach people and ask them if they wanted to buy cookies, as well as money management, goal setting, and team work - all skills that girls are still learning today," she said.

This year is also the first time that 5- and 6-year-old Daisy Girl Scouts - the youngest of the scouts - will be able to sell cookies. "They won't be handling money; we're not expecting them to become little entrepreneurs, but just learn things like how to count the boxes," says Wilson. In another sign of the times, one of the latest cookies, Daisy Go Rounds, are a reduced fat product sold in "portion control" packs, meaning to eat them all, you have to rip open several packages. Wilson herself admits that "there's always a moment" when she gets tempted to eat one of the thousands of cookies around her, and "it usually has to do with stress reduction."

Isn't it kind of dangerous, in this day and age, to go around selling Girl Scout cookies?

Girl Scouts should always be accompanied by an adult, and we teach them other important safety rules. These include: Door-to-door sales should always be done in the daylight; don't enter someone's home when selling or delivering cookies; don't go up to a vehicle to sell to someone; and even how to walk around a snowbank.

What's the most unusual location where Girl Scout cookies are sold?

We sell at grocery stores, minimarts, hardware stores, churches and synagogues, and mall kiosks. One girl always sells at her aunt's nail salon; another at her parent's bowling league. Still another girl goes skiing and packs suitcases of cookies to sell to people at her ski resort condo complex. But one of the most successful places are different MBTA stations. And the most unique place is at transfer stations, also known as dumps, in towns such as Weston. People can make sure that their Christmas tree gets recycled and get a box of Thin Mints at the same time.

Who was the top seller last year of Girl Scout cookies, and what was her secret?

Well, we had 45 girls who sold over a thousand cookies, but a top seller last year was a Needham high school senior who is home-schooled. She sold 4,200 boxes, and she has the wonderful ability to talk to people and is very kind and thoughtful. She asks everyone she sees if they want to buy a box, and goes back to every customer that she had from the year before.

Why aren't Girl Scout cookies sold online, other than unauthorized sites such as eBay?

That policy exists because it's dangerous to sell cookies on the Internet - you don't know who's on the other end of the line.

How many cookies do you hope to sell this year?

We have a goal of 2-3 million boxes in this region, which stretches from the Cape to New Hampshire. That's $10 million in business, and the girls and the council get to keep 75 percent of it, the rest goes to costs like transporting the cookies.

Don't Girl Scout cookies contribute to the childhood obesity problem?

Cookies are definitely a treat and should be a reasonable indulgence, in moderation, of any diet or eating plan.

What do you do with the cookies that you don't sell?

At the end of the sale, we hope that there are very few cookies kicking around, but if there are extra boxes, we donate them to the military and food banks.

What's your personal favorite cookie?

Peanut Butter Patties, because they're creamy and rich, like a dessert treat all in one. If you're a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup fan, you'll love this kind.

What's your advice for people who can't stop eating Girl Scout cookies?

There can't possibly be calories in Girl Scout cookies, can there?

Do Thin Mints really make you thin?

I wish.

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