Archive for Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A recipe for strategic selling

Local Girl Scout ranks as top seller in Troop

January 11, 2006

When Christopher Tiner puts on her green vest and heads out with her Girl Scout cookie order form, she means business.

"Well, I never really give up," said Christopher with a dimpled smile. "Sometimes it's hard, but I don't give up while I'm doing it."

¢ Members of the Tonganoxie Girl Scouts will be selling boxes of cookies at various locations this month, including B&J Country Mart on Saturdays and at Tonganoxie High School's home basketball games.

In fact, Christopher, who is 11, has worked out a strategy.

"I just go to businesses because they have a lot of people," she said, adding that she sometimes knocks on doors in residential neighborhoods, accompanied by her mother, Nanette Tiner.

In her five years in Girl Scouts, Christopher, who is a fifth-grader at Tonganoxie Elementary School, has sold approximately 2,300 boxes of cookies.

This year, she sold 504, the most of anyone in Troop 3393, led by Ursula Kissinger. And of those, about 100 boxes went to people who work in downtown Tonganoxie businesses.

Though she proudly says her customers like all the varieties of Girl Scout cookies, the overall favorite seems to be thin mints.

But her favorite, in particular, is the caramel delights.

Christopher has sold hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout cookies since she was in the first grade, but she's not one to overindulge in them.

"We usually order about four boxes," Christopher said. "We get a caramel delight, a peanut butter patty, my mom loves the lemon flavored ones, and then we get a thin mint."

The cookies, which sell for $3.50 a box, net 50 cents per box for the troop. That means that this year, Christopher's sales made about $252 for her troop. And her entire troop sold 1,300 boxes, including Christopher's sales.

Christopher said it was "pretty cool" to sell the most cookies.

"And it helps our troop a lot, so I really like being able to sell so many. ... It benefits the camps and the Girl Scout community," Christopher said.

Selling cookies is a family affair. Christopher's 9-year-old brother Christian gets in on the action, accompanying her while she's taking orders and making deliveries. And her father, Lanny, helps with the sorting after the cookies arrive.

While Christopher is successful in the traditional method of going door to door to sell her cookies, she's also open to new approaches.

In fact, this year she attempted to get a corporate sponsor -- a business that would buy boxes of cookies to donate to the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank, a Tonganoxie-based charity.

This would have helped the business by gaining a tax write off, the thrift shop by being able to distribute the cookies, and the Girl Scouts from the sales they would make, Christopher said.

But so far, no businesses have taken Christopher up on this offer.

"But you'll be happy to get one next year," her mother said, laughing.

Christopher smiled and agreed with her mother.

While Christopher has proved to be a successful seller of Girl Scout cookies during her five years in scouting, she said it's still a challenge for her. She stands, swinging her blond ponytail, her hands in her pockets.

"I was pretty shy, then I got really discouraged," Christopher said. "I've gotten better, but every year it gets a little hard -- I get a lot of 'nos' but then there's that one person that will say 'yes' and get a lot of them."

The experience benefits her, she said.

"I'm in a lot of sports, I'm in Awanas, a church thing for grade school kids," Christopher said. "It helps meeting new leaders, coaches, it just helps meeting people in all the stuff I do."

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