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How Allston Girl Scout sold 3,100 boxes of cookies: be happy, smile and remind customers it's 'five for 20'

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 9, 2013 01:26 PM

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(Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts)

An upbeat demeanor and cheery grin helped young Samantha Dorgan of Allston sell 3,100 boxes of Girl Scout cookies – the highest sales total this year among the 41,000 Girl Scouts in Eastern Massachusetts.

She also got customers to bite on her go-to sales pitch.

“I said ‘five for 20’ and that won over a lot of people,” Samantha said by phone Wednesday afternoon, two days after her 14th birthday.

Girl Scouts across the country sell cookies at different times of the year. For, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, the sales season runs from early December to early March.

Starting in late January, Samantha, with help from her mother and father went on a month-and-a-half long selling spree. Almost every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and on some Wednesdays, they would set-up sales booths at busy areas, typically for three to four hours at a time.

They shopped the cookies inside local grocery stores, on college campuses and at MBTA stations. Sometimes Samantha was at the booth as part of a group of Girl Scout troop mates selling cookies. Other times it was just Samantha and her parents.

At $4 per box, she sold a total of $12,400 worth of cookies.

Samantha said the family of one of her friends bought about 30 boxes. But otherwise, most other customers bought between two and five boxes apiece.

Some people donated cash to the troop without taking cookies. Others donated to the Girl Scouts’ “Cookies for a Cause” program, which send cookies to soldiers overseas.

“We found there are some very generous people in the city,” said Samantha’s mom, Kin Dorgan.

Samantha has been quite charitable herself.

She actually sold 3,267 boxes, but her official tally was lower because she donated 167 boxes worth of sales to other girls in her troop so that they could reach their own sales goals.

And, as a thank-you to the most helpful members of her cookie sale team, she has given away two prizes. Samantha gave an iPad she won last year to her mom and a Kindle she was awarded this year to her dad.

Samantha joined Girl Scouts about nine years ago. But only began to post high cookie sale numbers in recent years. She said she became particularly driven when popular tech devices started to be offered as prizes for reaching certain sales levels.

“She didn’t have any electronic gadgets. So when the prize lists came out, she had a lot of incentive,” her mother explained.

Along with the prizes she gave to her parents, she also won an iPod last year and a laptop this year. The laptop has been particularly helpful when doing homework.

Samantha said she did not realize she was the top seller in eastern Massachusetts until she saw an e-mail her mom forwarded her.

“I was kind of shocked,” she said. “I just got a lot of congratulations from my troop leader and troop members.”

The 41,000 members of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts sold a combined 2.5 million boxes this year, according to Allison Rubin, a spokeswoman for the organization. That means that, on average, each girl sold about 60 boxes apiece.

Samantha’s official sales total of 3,100 was the fourth-highest since the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts council formed in 2008, when three local councils merged, the spokeswoman said. The record for most cookies sold since 2008 was set last year by Emmie Oliver from Reading, who sold 4,351 boxes. Records prior to 2008 were not immediately available.

Nationally, the single season record and career total record for Girl Scout cookies sales are held by Virginia native Elizabeth Brinton, according to the spokeswoman. Between the late 1970s and into the 1980s, Brinton sold more than 100,000 boxes of cookies, including a record 18,000 in one season. She has been nicknamed the “Cookie Queen.”

“The Girl Scout Cookie program allows girls to set goals, learn money management, and develop marketing skills,” the organization said in a statement. “The activity of selling cookies is directly related to the organization’s purpose of helping all Girl Scouts realize their full potential and become strong, confident and resourceful citizens. Girl Scout troops use proceeds from selling cookies to fund service projects or plan an exciting trip.”

“With the money Samantha earned from selling cookies, her troop will go camping, horseback riding, rock climbing and are in the process of planning a larger trip,” the statement added.

Samantha’s mom said she and her husband are proud.

“I’m just thrilled she’s doing this,” she said. “She is enjoying the prizes a lot. And, if she’s willing to put the work in, we’re glad to help.”

Samantha said one of the keys to selling so many cookies: “have a good attitude” and if any customers aren’t pleasant “just ignore it and smile.”

“It’s kind of like a job, but a very fun job,” she said.

Her mother described one way Samantha was able to boost sales: “People would come up wanting three or four boxes, and she started saying ‘well, if you buy five it’s $20, and then I don’t have to make change.’”

And, Samantha said it doesn’t hurt that she loves the products she sells.

When asked what her favorite is, she quickly replied: “Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel DeLights,” Her voice trailed off. She paused briefly. “Pretty much all of them.”

But, she’s careful not to go overboard. In fact, she refrained from giving in to her own “five for 20” pitch. Samantha and her dad together bought four boxes.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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