Lisa Motti says it was her sweet tooth that whet her appetite for Girl Scouting in the fourth grade.
“I joined Girl Scouts because I thought we got a discount on cookies,” the 15-year-old joked in a recent interview.
In the several years since she’s been a Girl Scout, Motti, a Farmingville resident, has not received a single price reduction on her Do-si-dos, sandwich or shortbread cookies, but she has built her business savvy, confidence and community outreach.
Last year, Troop 2305, of which Motti is a part, sold 7,703 boxes of cookies — the most of all high school-level troops on Long Island. The collective was the second top seller in Suffolk County, where the average number of cookies sold by each troop was 785 boxes.
This year, to commemorate its 100th anniversary, the national organization introduced the S’more cookie — its take on the classic graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate campfire treat. The S’more is the latest in a 12-cookie lineup joining beloved classics such as Thin Mints and Samoas — the favorite varieties last year on Long Island.
But the S’more is so much more. It is also a celebration of a century of profitable cookie sales.
BEYOND THE COOKIES
Although programs are offered to females ages 5 to 18, it is less common for young women to stay in the organization into their senior level because middle and high schoolers tend to have more choices for extracurricular activities that compete with Girl Scouting, said Christine Terzella, public relations director for the Girls Scouts of Suffolk County.
Nearly $800 million is generated in cookie sales annually, according to Girl Scouts of USA. If a box of cookies costs $4, about a fourth of that amount — $1.02 — is for the manufacturer. The majority from each sale — $2.98 — goes toward activities of local troops.
Troop 2305 has used profits for: an annual cleanup at Corey Beach in Blue Point each September; fulfilling the holiday wish list of a child in need during the holidays; and volunteer projects with Long Island Cares and the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook.
Each summer, the girls set their own goals for the year ahead and also put their cookie profits toward such things as day camp and group trips.
“Most girls drop out of Girl Scouts because their troops aren’t active,” Motti said. “Community service projects give us incentive. We plan things. We go out. We’re not just sitting here.”
Josephine Davis, 15, also of Troop 2305, said what she and her troopmates like most about being a part of the organization is the sisterhood it fosters and the opportunity to improve the lives of others.
“The point of Girl Scouts is to help people,” said Davis, of Holtsville. “That’s our mission.”
MAKING THE SALE
Isabella Inzinna, 12, of Massapequa Park, has also made philanthropy a priority. Isabella has been a part of the organization since kindergarten and is currently a member of Troop 2185, which tracks its cookie sales by girl instead of by group. In 2016, Isabella single-handedly sold the most cookies by a Scout in Nassau County: 5,312 boxes.
The secret to Isabella’s cookie-selling success — and that of Troop 2305 — is not much of a secret. To some extent it’s cookie-cutter: booth and door-to-door sales. Booth sales hark back to 1917, the time of the first-known cookie sale where the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, sold batches of cookies out of their high school cafeteria that they’d made themselves. The current young entrepreneurs are not so much bakers as they are businesswomen.
Confidence, cookie costumes and camaraderie are all key selling tactics they’ve adopted over the years.
“Cookie sales give them life experience. It teaches them goal setting, decision making, money management, business ethics and people skills,” said Theresa Merlini, Isabella’s mother and the leader of Troop 2185. “Just being able to walk up to a stranger and to take rejection — a lot of girls have a hard time with this at first.”
Sales are not something Isabella has struggled with. For her, approaching a stranger with a sales pitch is merely a matter of risk management.
“If you don’t really know the person, you can’t really be embarrassed,” Isabella said. “You’re kind of just meeting this person for the first time.”
UPCOMING SELLING EVENTS
Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 4 — Stop & Shop, Islandia Shopping Center, Islandia
Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 11 — Kmart, 2280 N. Ocean Ave, Farmingville
Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 12 — CVS, 305 Main St., Holbrook
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays through March 19 at the Massapequa School District Grounds Operation Center, 618 Broadway, Massapequa
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Feb. 18 — ShopRite, 5508 Sunrise Hwy., Massapequa
4-9 p.m. Feb. 24 — Chow Superb Chinese Food, 20 Broadway, Massapequa