FARMINGTON — Girls stood by a booth outside WalMart late last week approaching customers with one question, "Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?"

Girl Scout Juniors Emily and Karrie King from Aztec's Troop 10269 were selling cookies as part of the annual cookie sale. The sisters were accompanied by their mother, Dora King, and assistant troop leader, Ashley Becker.

Throughout March, Girl Scouts are setting up booths to sell their famous cookies.

The annual Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest "financial literacy" program run by females in the United States.

Carol Ann Short, Communications and Public Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails, Inc., said selling door to door began on Jan. 11, but throughout March cookie sales are restricted to booth sales only.

Soon after setting up, a customer approached the booth.

Jokingly, the customer asked if he could buy one cookie, or if he had to buy the box.

"If you eat one, you'll want to eat the whole box," said Becker, who obviously had mastered her sales pitch.

The customer bought an entire box, handing the girls $10 and telling them to keep the change. A single box of cookies costs $3.50.

Last year, New Mexico Girl Scouts sold 819,597 boxes of cookies, an average of 221 boxes per girl. This year, the girls have already sold 679,598 boxes and the girls still have a few weeks to beat last year's number, Short said. She added Thin Mints are the best-sellers.


Troop leaders help the girls figure out how they are going to sell the cookies, what pitch they will make to sell them. Short said the cookie sale helps girls learn how to talk to adults and strangers, because many girls have very little experience talking to adults outside of their family and school.

When it comes to door-to-door sales, Girl Scouts train adults on how to safely undertake the sales.

"We never want girls to be in danger," Short said.

In order to ensure the girls' safety, Short said an adult always has to be with the girls during door-to-door sales. During the booth sales, two adults must always be present, Short said.

Short said the teaching doesn't conflict with the stranger-danger lessons the kids are learning in school because adults are always present. She said the Girl Scouts also teach the girls to be aware of their surroundings.

"We don't want girls to be afraid," Short said.

Short said the troops will come up with a goal of how many cookies they will sell. For instance, some will decide they want to sell enough cookies to pay for a trip or to go to camp. Some troops will even set a goal for money they want to donate to charitable causes.

After the sale, 55 cents goes to the troop. Scouts earn "Girl Scout Money" based on the amount of cookies they sell. The Girl Scout Money can be spent in the Girl Scout shop, on programs they want to attend, or on the Girl Scout summer camp.

To motivate girls, the Girl Scouts are holding a "Bling Your Booth" contest, Sharp said. Booths are judged based on creativity, marketing ideas, displays, and promotion of the "Gifts of Caring Program."

The contest will be taking place next Friday.

Emily King said her troop is going to do a monster theme for their booth.

Troop 10269 is hoping to raise money for a trip to Albuquerque, King said.

In addition to raising money for their trip, Becker said the Aztec Girl Scouts will be donating money to provide gift baskets and lifetime Girl Scout memberships to baby girls.

Short said when it comes to the sales, they want the girls to take control. The organization encourages the leaders to provide guidance, but "to take the backseat" and allow the girls to make the decisions.

For some of the girls, the cookie sales will be one of their first chances to really manage money. Girl scouts range in age from kindergarten to high-school seniors, Short said. While the seniors have experience with money, the kindergartners are often just learning.

Adults watch over the shoulders of the younger girls and help when necessary, Short said.

And the cookie sales helps the girls' math skills, Dora King said.

A customer came up to Troop 10269 and bought a box of Thin Mints. He handed Karrie King $20. Karrie opened the box and started counting the change. Her mother looked over her shoulder, guiding her to the correct amount of money.

Hannah Grover may be reached at; 564-4652. Follow her on Twitter