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Girl Scouts Take Cookies Online

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Last year marked the first year cookie lovers could buy Girl Scout cookies online. The move to incorporate internet sales has put Girl Scout purists on alert, fearing that the interpersonal days of door to door sales may be numbered. Only $10 million of the estimated $800 million in sales last year was generated online. If this is any indication, in person sales is not in danger of being taken over by online sales. Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn believes that the decision to sell online was made to only enhance sales rather than to replace traditional practices.

“They have done market research that says they would sell more cookies if more people could get them. If a Girl Scout doesn’t come to your door or if you don’t run into them in front of a supermarket, or a library, or a public building, you may not be able to buy them because they are not available in grocery stores. This is a way of stretching that market,” Koehn said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday.

Koehn stressed how important the cookies sales were to the Girl Scout organization not only financially, but also as an integral learning experience for the young girls who participate. “They believe that selling cookies online and door to door is a great way of teaching girls to do business, how to market themselves, how to present themselves, how to make decisions, how to manage money, how to have a sense of business ethics; they think this is great equipment for life.

Selling online also allows for teaching and opportunities a Girl Scout would not be able to get just from selling door to door. “This is a way for girls to learn technology skills. They still need to learn how to present themselves. A lot of the Girl Scouts are making little videos about selling them,” Koehn said.

The outpouring of opinions from Girl Scout cookie connoisseurs shows people's passion for the organization, says Koehn. "It says something about Girl Scout’s power as a national institution that this is generated a small war of words."

Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School. Listen to her interview with Boston Public Radio above. 

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