Bullish: What I Learned About Business From Selling Girl Scout Cookies (i.e., Not What The Girl Scouts Had In Mind)

Bullish: What I Learned About Business From Selling Girl Scout Cookies (i.e., Not What The Girl Scouts Had In Mind)

Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice on TheGloss and headquartered on GetBullish.com.

I was a Girl Scout. From first or second grade through sixth or seventh, I wore the uniforms and earned the badges and participated in ceremonies that involved walking over a small wooden bridge.

And, of course, I sold cookies.

I’m definitely a supporter of the Girl Scouts now. They’re outclassing the Boy Scouts by a million miles on LGBT rights and on just generally belonging to the modern world. And now it’s cookie time! Ever modern, the Girl Scouts are testing a gluten-free cookie, and they’ve adopted the hashtag #cookieboss.

Here’s a Tweet from Girl Scouts CEO Anna M. Chávez:


Hmmn, interesting.

I sold cookies every year. I don’t think I learned much about business, though, because Girl Scouts only do sales, and the terms of the sale are more or less fixed. You can’t experiment with three-for-two specials, or earlybird pricing, or closeouts at the end of the season. You can’t buy ad space and test a coupon campaign.

More fundamentally, I didn’t learn much about business from selling cookies because I had no access to information about what it costs to produce a box of cookies — ingredients, labor, packaging, transportation, etc. — and how the price of a box of cookies was determined. Who bakes the cookies? Are the workers receiving a fair wage? What do they do the rest of the year? Let’s talk about unions.

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      I was a “brownie” for about a year or something like that and remember being so jealous when the girls who sold a lot of cookies got fancy prizes when I got… a key chain. In my town, a lot of people’s parents sold the cookies for them at their jobs, which at the time I thought was really unfair. (Now I’m really happy that’s a thing because I can buy cookies like everywhere.) If you want to teach your kids a valuable lesson though, I’d say have them put in the work themselves and sell cookies with a parent (for safety only!).

    • blue

      Or is that maybe what the Girl Scouts wanted you to learn all along???

      • Jennifer Dziura


    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      The cookies are so good! I really wish I knew some Girl Scouts.

      I was always really ambitious and wanted to sell the most cookies, but after the first year or so it became obvious that I could not compete because of the rules my parents imposed. I was not allowed to bring the sheet to my father’s office because he was the boss and said if I showed up people would feel like they had to buy cookies from the boss’ daughter. At the time I raged about that, but now I am really glad. I was only six or seven and my parents wouldn’t help sell, so I was only allowed to go door-to-door in the condo building I grew up in. The kids whose parents sold the cookies for them always sold way more.

    • June Gorman

      That was just really fun to read. I was a Girl Scout all the way through high school because my friends were and talked me into an amazing senior scout troop that was into activism in a very wealthy and conservative town. (At least what we could get away with!) We were the first all backpacking troop in the area and climbed Mt. Whitney together! We were a burgeoning feminist girl scout troop with long walks to talk about how we would support each other in changing and disproving the limits set by our world. We weren’t much into the cookie selling, though some in the troop did have the advantage of dad’s office/wealthy neighbors. But we weren’t much into the incentives since we created our own — a group of young girls learning to support each other climbing mountains together. Many of us are still very close friends and still doing so, today.
      I really appreciated your take and your great sense of humor! Wish you had been in my troop!

    • Eileen

      I liked selling cookies because I hated selling cookies. Going up to a stranger you don’t have a relationship with and saying asking them for something you want? GOOD GOD THAT IS HARD. And it’s something I don’t think enough girls are taught to do.

      And yeah, I totally buy cookies from all my coworkers’ daughters because I want the cookies. Sorry.