Girl Scouts of the USA is kicking off National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend in New York City on Friday, Feb. 7, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an event at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal to give New Yorkers their first taste of this year's Thin Mints, Samoas and other favorite Girl Scout Cookies.
Daniel Boockvar, chief customer officer at Girl Scouts of the USA, sat down with IBTimes TV on Tuesday to discuss the world's largest girl-led business, and where customers can buy cookies this year. Boockvar also reveals where the revenue from the nearly $800 million cookie program goes.
IBTimes TV: Tell me about National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend that kicks off February 7.
Boockvar: National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend is coming up this weekend and it’s a great tradition. It’s our celebration of the launch of the cookie season. So all over the country we’re celebrating. Here in New York, we’re taking over Grand Central on Friday and we’re going to have over 200 girls selling cookies and helping people in what we’re calling a green carpet premiere, and they’ll be able to walk down the green carpet and strut their stuff and buy their cookies at the same time. So that’s at Grand Central here. All week we’re going to be celebrating on social media, so when you’re eating your samoa, hashtag #cookieboss, take a picture, post it on Facebook and Twitter because that’s what everyone eating their Girl Scout cookies this week is going to do.
IBTimes TV: The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a nearly $800 million business. Where does all of the revenue from the cookie sales go?
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Boockvar: It is an $800 million business. The average age of our CEO is 7 and what happens is every girl in troops all over the country is raising money for their troop and for their community service. What happens is after we pay our two licensed bakers, all of the revenue from our cookie sales goes to the council, which are the organizations that run the Girl Scout programs and services locally. Then they share the revenue with the girls, and then the girls could do what they want with that income, and many of them give it back to the communities. We just saw one in Mississippi where they bought a handicap swing for a local park. Other girls use it to travel and see the world and others use it to actually pay for some of their troop’s activities.
IBTimes TV: So what happens if there are boxes of cookies left over? Where do they go?
Boockvar: Well, there aren’t usually that many, but what we do is we bake it for one year. So we don’t keep a box that’s unsold for the next year. So what we often do if there is excess inventory, the councils will talk to their local food pantry and social services organizations and make sure they get the unsold boxes.
IBTimes TV: Where can I get cookies? Can I buy them online or on my phone?
Boockvar: Both. I would go to www.girlscoutcookies.org and on there you’ll see you can type in your ZIP code and find the local Girl Scout booth near you and you can also download a mobile app (iPhone or Android) and do the same thing, so wherever you are when you get that urge, just type it into your phone and you’ll see where someone’s selling Girl Scout cookies.
IBTimes TV: Why exactly are the cookies sold only during a certain time of the year instead of year-round?
Boockvar: Do you know that if we sold cookies year round since it’s a 12-week window and it’s an almost $800 million business, these girls would be running a $2 billion dollar-plus business. We don’t do that because we offer so many activities during the year for the girls and this is only one and the key thing about the cookie sale is they’re running their own business and the key part of this is learning to be the CEO of your own business. It’s about goal-setting, and decision-making and financial literacy and money management. It’s about business ethics and interpersonal and sales skills. We teach the girls and they learn from this experience those five key business skills. So we do that over 12 weeks because they have much more to learn and many more activities the rest of the year. So usually it’s around this time of year for about 12 weeks.
IBTimes TV: What do you do to recruit girls?
Boockvar: A whole host of fun and interesting things. I use the word fun because that’s really the message. The magic of the Girl Scouts is it's really fun. You see and experience new adventures. You meet new friends all the while you’re experiencing and developing these key skills. So the magic of our messaging is all about the possibilities and the newness of what you’re about to experience, but the end result is they're getting all these great skills, and in this case it's financial literacy. It’s entrepreneurship. Often it’s them and a lot of the skills I mentioned that they develop in the cookie program.
IBTimes TV: Whenever there are opposition groups trying to protest and boycott Girl Scouts of the USA, how exactly does the organization try to deal with that?
Boockvar: We’re not a political organization. I think it’s a shame that we see some of these organizations try to piggy-back on our brand. What we do is stay focused. Well, first we provide the facts and then we focus on the girls and if we do those two things well then we usually don’t get flustered and we’re here to set the girls up for success this time of year.
IBTimes TV: You recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA in 2012. Where exactly do you see the future of Girl Scouting heading?
Boockvar: I know you cover a lot of business news and the little girl that sold you your samosas, we hope is going to be the CEO of one of your Nasdaq listed companies one day, and that’s the way that we see the girl scouts. If we do what we do right, we’re going to transform the lives of millions of girls to take business leadership positions like you see every day.