Peter Kwong | Wok & Roll

Girl Scout cookies
Goodness, it is time for Girl Scout cookies again; my favorite season. They used to come knocking on our door when we lived in Milwaukee. But no more after we moved to the North Woods, as our house is hiding in the woods. The only time that I see them these days is the time we go shopping at Walmart. They will have a table (with the troop numbers pasted on the tablecloth, usually with sparkles on the edge around them) set up right at the entrance, with all kinds of cookies stacked up and with a cute girl dressed in uniform stopping each shopper, asking them if they would want a box. My wife has a sweet tooth and she craves the thin mints. They have eight or nine different flavors and sell for $5 a box. Good deal, as part of the profit goes back to benefit the young Girl Scouts. I always give the girl $20 for three boxes of thin mints and then tell the girl to keep the change for the troop. Then I would tell the girl, do not ask "Would you like some cookies?” anymore. Instead, she should ask, "What flavors would you like?” Then she would announce what flavors she has if they stop and ask. And she would say, "And my favorite is …” She smiled. Don’t know if it was for the $5 tips she made for her troop, or if it was my sales technique that she just learned?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be selling Girl Scout cookies at my age. Well, to clarify, it wasn’t me who went door to door selling cookies. It was my granddaughter who I accompanied.
My wife and I used to see Ellie (it is her nickname for grandparents only to use, others call her Elise) three to four times a year. It was a long drive for them to visit Milwaukee when they live in Minnesota. Well, things have changed since we moved to the North Woods, now we get to see her two or three times a month! Watching her grow up is priceless. Even though the move was painful, it was worth it. Ahh, life is good. I think that I was asked to baby-sit her one Saturday as the parents had other obligations. What a joy that I could spend all day with her by myself!
After a long drive (it was only an hour, but after living in Milwaukee all these years, anything over 20 minutes is a long drive), I got to their house. Before I settled down, my daughter-in-law asked if I could go help my granddaughter sell Girl Scout cookies. I was a bit shocked, as I didn’t know that she was old enough to be a Girl Scout yet. Then I found out that she was a Daisy, the youngest rank. Then you move up to a Brownie and then Girl Scout. Whew, I never knew, at Ellie’s age, my daughter was involved with another group which all her friends joined.
It was a cold morning, so she was all bundled up. However, I asked her to put on her Daisy vest with badges.
"People have got to know who you are when they open the door,” I told her. Then I proceeded to give her a quick lesson about door-to-door selling. My goodness, the old and fond memories all came back:
• Build a relationship in the first 10 seconds.
• Don’t ask "yes” or "no” questions.
• Smile, and
• Say "thank you” or "have a good day” before leaving.
So, we got a pulling wagon and loaded it up with 25 boxes of different cookies, and off we went. Even though it is a fundraising event, I think it is a lot to ask a young girl to handle all the responsibilities – the ordering, the inventory and keeping track of the money. Needless to say, all the parents are involved. Before we left, we practiced our sales pitch over and over. "Good morning, my name is Ellie and I am here to sell Girl Scout cookies. What flavor is your favorite?” The reason we never ask, "Would you like some cookies?” is that it is a "yes” and "no” question and that most people will always answer "no” when you ask them a "yes” and "no” question. Took me a lot of years to learn that; but it only took her two minutes. Smart cookie!
We sold two boxes at the first house, unbelievable! And it went just like our script –
"Hi, my name is Ellie Kwong and I am here to sell Girl Scout cookies. What’s your favorite, sir/ma’am?”
The husband who answered the door would say, "Oh, mine is thin mint.” Then he called out loudly to the wife, "Hey, honey, the girl is here selling Girl Scout cookies. What flavor would you like?”
"Get me a box of Caramel Delight, please.” The wife called back.
Just like that, we walked away selling two boxes. We walked up and down the hills. We walked and walked with no complaints. The wagon became lighter and lighter, and my change box was getting heavier and heavier. Then we hit the jackpot at one of the houses.
"Good morning, my name is Ellie Kwong and I am here to sell Girl Scout cookies. What’s your favorite, ma’am?”
"Oh, my favorite is thin mint. What other favorites do you have?” The lady acted like she saw a rainbow in the cookie wagon.
"Well, my favorite is Caramel Delight, but we also have s’more, lemonade …” She named them all with a smile.
The lady then said, "Oh, I would like one of this, one of that and two of those. And what do you have again?” She ended up with seven boxes of assorted cookies. Ellie and I looked at each other and smiled. We walked and we walked, up and down the hill, but the wagon got lighter and lighter. She sold at least one or two at each house. Finally, my knee was giving in and we had to turn back home. I looked at the wagon, and there were only three boxes left. So, we ended up selling 22 boxes. Not too bad for a couple hours of work.
When Mom came home later and asked us how we did, Ellie raised three fingers and said "Three.” "Well, not too bad,” said Mom. Then I corrected Ellie and said, "No, she meant that we have three left. We sold a total of 22 boxes.” I thought Mom was going to faint. She simply didn’t believe that.
Well, glad that Ellie learned the power of selling in the first day. I believe that she can sell anything when she is older. Can’t wait to teach her more stuff.

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