Cookie season is about a lot more than treats for local Girl Scouts

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
The Hop Ice Cream owner Ashley Garrison hosts Black Mountain Girl Scouts for a question and answer session in her business on Feb. 22.

Girl Scout cookie season is a favorite time of the year for many.

Those who love sweet, delicious treats have the chance to enjoy some Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Lemonades or any of the rest of the 12 varieties of the popular cookies.

To the members of the organization, like Paislee Cordell and the girls of Black Mountain Troop 02498, the time-honored tradition represents so much more.

Over 100 years ago, the Girl Scouts began selling cookies to help support the organization founded by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia in 1912. The true value of it, however, is that it introduces young girls to the basic concepts of business and in the case of Cordell, nurtures those instincts.

The Black Mountain Primary student sold around 1,200 boxes a year ago and earned a trip to Wet n Wild in Orlando, Florida. It was there, her mother Jody said, that Paislee set a lofty goal for 2019.

“She saw the girl who was the top seller in the (Peaks to Piedmont) council and said she wanted to be the top seller this year,” Jody said. “She originally wanted to sell 6,000 boxes, but we’re thinking she’ll sell around 5,000.”

Paislee Cordell, who has sold 4,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies since early January, and her mom Jody were among those in The Hop Ice Cream on Cherry Street on Feb. 22.

Paislee had already topped 4,000 on Feb. 22, when she was joined by fellow Brownies and some Juniors at The Hop Ice Cream on Cherry Street. There the group participated in a question and answer session with the business’s owner Ashley Garrison.

The troop of a little over 30 girls has already sold over 13,000 boxes, according to Brownie troop leader Kiersten Hall.

Paislee started pre-selling two weeks before cookie season started.

“She’s definitely a go-getter,” Jody said of her daughter. "She sold 1,000 boxes before we even received any cookies."

It hasn't been easy, the 9-year-old said. 

“We’ve been going out and selling door to door and doing booths every single day,” Paislee said. “It’s hard work.”

Her efforts could potentially be rewarded through a college scholarship offered to prolific cookie sellers.

“That’s what she’s working toward,” Jody said. “And she’s the kind of person who puts her all into something when she's motivated to do it.”

The girls in the troop put plenty of effort into selling cookies every year, according to Hall.

Ashley Garrison speaks to Girl Scout Troop 02498 in The Hop Ice Cream on Cherry Street in Black Mountain.

“They’re each so focused on their individual sales, and they love to tell each other stories about their experiences,” she said.

Last year the troop spoke over 12,000 boxes of cookies. The girls eclipsed that mark this year, Hall said.

"We've already sold well over 13,000 boxes," she said Friday. "We won't have official numbers for probably three weeks or so."

The troop includes Cadettes, led by Bethany Boyle; Juniors, led by Jade Baker; Daisies, led by Schaap Freeman and Hall's Brownies. It uses the funds raised through the annual cookie sales to support itself.

"A box of cookies is $4 and we will end up with somewhere between 60-70 cents per box," Hall said. "Last year my Brownies alone received $1,500 from cookie sales."

Some of that money is donated to various entities around Black Mountain, Hall said. Some went toward the construction of the playground at the primary school last year.

"We also buy all of our supplies with it," she continued. "None of our girls have to buy any of their badges and we have no monthly dues."

Ashley Garrison, owner of The Hope Ice Cream on Cherry Street, welcomes Black Mountain Girl Scouts Troop 02498 into her business on Feb. 22.

The money also helps keeps the "very active troop," which meets weekly at Black Mountain Methodist Church, on the move, according to Hall. 

"We're able to go places and have fun," she said. "The church has been so gracious hosting us for all this time and because they're right in the middle of town we're able to walk to all kinds of places in town."

They frequently meet with business owners in the local community, which is how they ended up in Garrison’s shop.

“I thought ‘they sell these sweet cookies, and we have a woman who owns a business in town that sells sweets, it seemed like a good connection,’” Hall said. “Ashley was kind enough to have us.”

Garrison, who was a Girl Scout herself as a child, was excited to host the troop, she said minutes before they arrived.

"It's really nice to be able to meet them and, since they're each focused on their cookie business, talk to them about owning a business here in town," she said. "Coincidentally, we have an ice cream made with Thin Mints right now. We do that every year, and we look at it as a way of supporting the local troops because we buy from them."

Garrison and her husband Greg bought The Hop in 2008, she told girls.

“The Hop opened in the 1970s,” she said. “I worked there when I was in college and when the previous owners decided to sell, my husband and I bought it.”

Several of the girls shared ideas for ways to boost sales with Garrison, who went on to speak to the visitors about inventory and budgeting. 

"I'm proud of all of you for your work in the community and for donating money for the playground last year," Garrison told the group. "When you have a business, as each of you do, it's really nice to think of ways to help others with any extra revenue you might have. It makes sense whenever you're doing something that makes money to invest it back into the community."

Garrison thanked the group for coming to her store and the girls responded by ordering ice cream, which they ate in The Hop. 

As Paislee waits for her ice cream, she reflects on her busy winter, in which she set up booth from Marion to Asheville. 

"I learned a lot about sales," she said. "You have to try if you're going to sell a lot."

Jody expresses pride in the work ethic her daughter has shown this year, but Paislee doesn't hesitate when asked if she intends to try to top the mark next year. 

"No," she said in between bites of ice cream.