BY LEANNA ORR
HOST INTRO: Thin Mints, Samoas and Do-si-dos hit the New York market on Monday when the city’s Girl Scouts begin selling cookies. But the annual sale doesn’t work the same way here as it does in the rest of the country. Leanna Orr reports.
On a glorious Saturday in suburban Stamford, Troop 50060 is doing is brisk business. The members are set up outside a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Stop & Stop, siphoning off customers as they come and go.
SCOUT: Four dollars a box!
CUSTOMER: OK, can I do four actually five boxes of the Tagalongs and two of the Thin Mints?
SOUND: Tinkling of coins into box (0:03), fade to black under narration
Inventory dwindles as girls make frequent runs to the SUV parked out front for extra stock. The trunk and table are bare after just a couple hours.
OLIVIA: We sold a hundred and sixty boxes. And how many did you come here with? A hundred and sixty.
Troop 50060 knows how to cater to Stamford suburbanites, so the girls almost always sell outside grocery stores and coffee shops. One mother who was there had gone to a country music concert and saw a New Jersey troop with a different approach.
MOTHERS: We’re pulling into the parking lot and a mother was out there selling at the concert– Oh I betcha she did well there, that would be a good place to sell–Oh yeah, tailgatin’.
SOUND: Fade remaining conversation under narration (0:08), crossfade with ambi
Across America Girl Scouts depend on tried and true strategies: door-to-door sales, community events and booths outside the supermarket. But most of these just don’t work in New York City. It’s tough to go door-to-door when you have to get past security and up an elevator. Many troop moms don’t even have a tailgate. Plus, subway turnstiles are a real pain with an armload of inventory. So the New York scouting community gets creative.
RABINER: We have what we call ‘pop-up shops’ opening across the city.
Dina Rabiner is the director of marketing and communications for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She’s in charge of spreading the word about these five temporary stores. They’ll operate like normal retailers, with some paid staff and large inventories. You can even find them with your smartphone. The Cookie Locator app pinpoints the closest Do-si-do or Trefoil vendor from any Android device, iPhone or iPad. More than thirty thousand New Yorkers downloaded it last year. Rabner expects to double that number with some high-profile promotions.
RABINER: There’s not many councils out there that can advertise on 42nd Street and Times Square.
She thinks the ad will raise awareness about city scouts in general.
RABINER: People don’t always associate New York City with Girl Scouts, for some people Girl Scouts is a suburban activity.
Troops here might not be as visible, but they have one advantage over scouts in the suburbs. There are a lot of rich people here, and four dollars seems like a bargain to most of the city’s residents. Twelve-year-old Nicole belongs to Manhattan Troop 3175 on the Upper East Side. She’s learned that when it comes to customers, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts.
NICOLE: So I went to my mom’s office to sell cookies.–What office is that?–Merrill Lynch, the World Financial Center. And we were selling, and someone bought 125 boxes of cookies.
That’s $500 worth of cookies, and the buyer donated them all to American troops overseas. Cookies are available in the pop-up shops from March 12 and until April 3.
Leanna Orr, Columbia Radio News.
HOST BACKANNOUNCE: You can find a link to the Cookie Locator app on Uptownradio.org.