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2 Girl Scouts develop entrepreneurial spirit in cookie sale

In May, Girl Scouts Rachel Judd, left, and Emma Salyer will be named among this spring’s top cookie sellers in the Hornets’ Nest Council, a Girl Scouts division covering eight counties in the Charlotte metro area.
In May, Girl Scouts Rachel Judd, left, and Emma Salyer will be named among this spring’s top cookie sellers in the Hornets’ Nest Council, a Girl Scouts division covering eight counties in the Charlotte metro area. jmcfadden@charlotteobserver.com

It’s never too early to kick-start an enterprise.

Just ask 10-year-old Rachel Judd, who recently spent 13 hours in Sam’s Club selling 400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in a one-day sweep.

That’s child’s play for the Rowan County girl who has been peddling Thin Mints, Trefoils, Do-si-dos and other cookies since age 5.

This spring, she sold more than 3,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies – exceeding a sales record for the Hornets’ Nest Council, a Girl Scouts division covering eight counties in the Charlotte metro area.

The ultimate benchmark for cookie sales is 3,000 packages, said Colleen Young, vice president of brand marketing with the Hornets’ Nest Council.

Also beating records is Cabarrus County’s Emma Salyer, a 7-year-old Brownie who is one of the top sellers in the region. During the most recent drive, Emma sold more than 1,600 boxes, using booths and a contagious smile (which the council says has been featured in Girl Scouts ads on city buses and cookie boxes) to draw patrons.

Although sellers are accompanied by adults, the girls still learn how to be independent in their entrepreneurial pursuits. They develop business strategies, set goals and establish a customer base. Here’s how Emma and Rachel applied these principles to optimize their cookie sales:

Pick the hot spot: Walmart, Tractor Supply, Lowe’s, heck, even a bowling alley. Rachel and Emma both took to these high-trafficked retailers to get their products in front of customers. And it worked.

Rachel, who aspires to open a veterinarian practice with her older sister, also hit up SouthPark mall, Concord Mills mall and Sam’s Club “because they do the best,” she said. She volunteers at Faithful Friends, an animal sanctuary in Salisbury, and sold cookies there, too.

‘No’ really isn’t ‘no’: Rachel and Emma didn’t sweat it when customers said they didn’t want cookies.

“We said ‘thank you anyway,’” Emma said.

They offered alternatives. Before customers walked away, the girls delivered a compelling sales pitch that’s hard to refuse: “You can donate to the troops.”

Customers unable or unwilling to buy cookies dropped cash in a donation box that would go to Troop to Troops, an initiative that sends Girl Scout cookies to military personnel.

Enjoy the payoff: The girls get to use some of the money they raised for a trip. Emma and her troop are planning a zoo-snooze, an overnight trip to the zoo. Rachel and her troop hope to visit Dollywood.

And, of course, there are the bragging rights. When Rachel learned she sold more cookies than 11,000 other girls in the Hornet’s Nest Council, she gave as humble a response as any entrepreneur basking in success can muster.

“Awesome.”

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