Margot Alluisi, 9, says the best Girl Scout cookie is the organization’s newest offering, Adventurefuls, a chewy, gooey, sea-salt caramel brownie-inspired cookie. Cookie fans love them.
But Margot and and her Brownie buddies are having to learn a new skill with the Adventurefuls — explaining to buyers why their cookies are not available yet.
“You can’t get them now,” said Alluisi, a Brownie Girl Scout with Troop 623 in Crozet, “because of the supply chain.”
“If you have a box of Adventurefuls, hang on to it, it’s like gold,” said Rashmi Ghei, cookie sales manager for Troop 623. Her daughter, Anya, 8, is a Brownie Girl Scout.
Even the Girl Scout cookie market hasn’t been spared from the dreaded supply chain issues that have come along with the COVID-19 pandemic. That means that, as sales ramp up and local scouts start to sell at cookie booths across the region, third and fourth graders are learning economic lessons that even many adults aren’t familiar with.
The cookie shortage has been covered by media across the nation. Troops all over the country are experiencing the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain on top of labor shortages all coupled with high demand.
It’s a tough lesson for sales people who aren’t even into the double-digits yet. Nayla Handa, 9, whose goal is to sell 1,000 boxes of cookies, said this year’s cookie sales taught her what a supply chain is. For now, she’s trying to focus less on the shortages and more on her favorite parts of cookie sales.
“It’s just really fun learning with friends about entrepreneurship and how to handle your money and grow your business,” she said.
Troop 623 is part of the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline council, which uses Little Brownie Bakers, the manufacturer for roughly 75% of Girl Scout cookies, Ghei said. Another manufacturer, ABC Bakers, produces the rest for troops in other pockets of the country.
“We’re having to adjust how much we’re going to bring to a booth. And the sad part is that you know the girls are going to be working there at the booth, but you also know we’re going to run out of certain varieties,” Ghei said.
Despite the shortages, sales have been on the rise in contrast to the past two years, Ghei said. Last year, most members of Troop 623 did not participate in cookie sales, and all cookie booths were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Girl Scout cookies retail for $5 a box. One dollar from each box goes back to the troop that sold it. If the troop members opt out of incentive prizes for selling cookies, they get $1.15 per box sold back to the troop. After cookie sales, the scouts will decide what they want to do with their earnings.
Thin Mints, a classic, is the troop’s best seller. Ghei said that reflects sales patterns across the country. But while you can still order the mint chocolate treat, the troop is out of other classic favorites, like Samoas. Those can only be ordered online and only while supplies last.
Nowadays, most cookie sales are done online, Ghei said. This allows the girls and their parents to share a link with friends and family both near and far to order cookies.
If a customer lives locally, they can request to have the cookies hand delivered to them by the scout. For cookies like the now out-of-stock Samoas and Tagalongs, customers have the option to order them shipped directly from the manufacturer.
Others, like the Adventurefuls, are completely sold out online. Ghei said it’s unclear if they’ll get any more.
While the girls were originally encouraged to push sales of the hot new cookie as well as classics, they’ve had to pivot to encouraging customers to try other varieties that are in stock.
There is also an option to donate a box of cookies with this year’s donations going to health care workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So what will the scouts do with their wad of cash from cookie sales?
Aurelia Jesus, 9, wants to sell enough cookies to make it to Japan, or maybe Niagara Falls. If that is a bit too far, she’s good with a nearby museum or going camping.
She’s not alone. Several scouts expressed their desire to use the funds for a camping trip.
“We may use some money to go camping and some to do good in the world, like work with a homeless shelter,” Nayla said.
The young entrepreneurs also shared their best marketing strategies.
“Sometimes people say the cookies are too expensive. But I can talk them into it by giving them samples, and then they’ll say ‘you got me, I’ll buy five boxes,” Aurelia said. “I’m good at talking them into it.”