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Girl Scouts offer no-wait service in 2011

Tagalongs. Thin Mints. Trefoils. Almost everyone has a favorite kind of Girl Scout cookie.

For Junior Scout Riley Marty, her top pick is Samoas. But it's not getting to eat cookies -- or even raise money for her troop -- that Marty likes best about the annual cookie sales.

"I get to talk to a lot of people," the 9-year-old said.

Marty will get the chance to chat with plenty of her neighbors this Saturday when she, and nearly 130 of her fellow Red Wing Girl Scouts, go door to door selling their cookies.

But this year, instead of having to place an order and then wait for the cookies to arrive as in past years, buyers will get instant gratification. Scouts will have the cookies in hand when they come to the door.

"It really takes away one more step," Julie Brunkhorst of Girl Scouts of Red Wing said.

Scouts are hoping that no-wait time for the customer will mean higher sales.

"I think they'll like it better. I think we'll sell more," said Deb Marty, Riley's mom and the leader for two Red Wing troops.

That temptation is something Red Wing resident Leslie Hakala said might be hard to pass up, even though she doesn't usually buy Girl Scout cookies.

"I possibly would if they were right in front of me," she said.

Denise Alt agrees. "It's harder to say no when you've got a little kid on your doorstep with the cookies," she said.

In addition, less wait time means that customers will get a fresher cookie, River Valley Girl Scout communications manager Barbara Boelk said.

But the new sales model means a bit more planning for Red Wing's 12 troops. Each troop had to determine how many cookies they think they'll sell before they placed their orders with the official Girl Scout bakery.

Deb Marty said her scouts looked at last year's sales to help figure out how many cookies to get.

"We ordered about 5,000 boxes this year," she said.

The second step is figuring out how to get all those cookies from one doorstep to the next.

Boelk said she's heard of girls planning to use anything from backpacks to snowmobiles to get the cookies in the customers' hands.

Deb and Riley Marty are planning to haul their treats around in a wagon, or, if the snow is too deep, a sled.

The money each troop raises from the cookie sales will go toward paying for Girl Scout activities, anything from visiting a zoo or museum, to community service projects, such as doing crafts with nursing home residents.

But the cookie sale isn't just to spur funding and provide sugar highs. It also helps girls build public speaking, business planning and leadership skills.

"(It) makes strong girls, strong leaders," Deb Marty said.

Cookie sales will run Feb. 5 through March 20. Sales will be strictly door to door until Feb. 19, when booths will be set up in Wal-Mart, Slumberland and EconoFoods. Cookies are $3.50 per box.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.