A First-Timer's Guide to Boothing

Every year, I get a few notes from first-time leaders and cookie moms/dads who are overwhelmed with the pressure of the whole cookie escapade, especially how to find great cookie booths for their troops and get it all set up. If this applies to you, here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. First, Don't Panic. It's Only Cookies! *smile*
    No matter what you do, whether you have a booth or not, your girls will have fun and learn a lot in the process. Remember that cookie sales are foremost a part of troop program, where the girls will learn people skills, money skills, and sales techniques. Selling huge numbers of cookies is not necessary for the girls to learn these important life lessons.

  2. Should We Have a Cookie Booth?
    Cookie Booths are not a mandatory part of cookie sales. If your girls are selling cookies for the first time, or if it is your first time being the troop cookie manager, it may be chaotic enough just with regular sales! If this is the case, do yourself and your girls a favor and wait until next year.
    Also, as a part of troop program, the girls in the troop should have set troop goals for their cookie sales. Even Brownies can start thinking about how much their activities cost and how they can raise the money to pay for them! Depending on the troop's goals, and on how many cookies each girl sells on her own, the troop may not need a cookie booth at all. Perhaps you may want to set up one cookie booth where the girls can work an hour or so each so they can try it and see how they like it. Many troops do not need to have a cookie booth at all, and most troops won't need large numbers of them. (End of soapbox.)

  3. When Should We Have Our Cookie Booth?
    Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are most desired for boothing-- not only do most stores receive more traffic those days, but the girls and adults are more likely to be available on the weekends. Make sure you check with the adults in your troop to find out what times and dates work for them. Dates earlier in the sale are most desired. Remember that some stores place limits on the days and times we can booth, and some places are only open certain hours (especially banks, which are often only open until 3 or 4pm) so that limits everyone. If you are flexible as to time--like you don't mind a 7am-10am booth or a 5pm-8pm booth--your options increase. My personal favorite is booths during the week from around 4-7pm; more and more people are shopping after work and especially at stores that have banks inside them, so there is a lot of traffic.

  4. Where Should We Have Our Cookie Booth?
    As to locations, hmmm... Your best source would honestly be your neighborhood cookie manager. Each area is different. The best locations are high-traffic stores, and booths will be most successful early in the sale, before everyone has already received cookies. Generally, the larger, high-traffic stores (for example, Wal-Marts) are the most sought after booths. In most areas, Fry's and Safeways are larger stores and have more traffic than the Bashas' and ABCOs, but that is definitely not the case in all areas. Walgreens and the other locations are a very mixed bag. Banks tend to be very sought after too (and are therefore very limited, too) but I personally have had only mediocre luck with them. I have had great luck with video stores in the early evening, especially on the weekends.
    However, as far as locations go, I have found that if your girls stay in their home area (i.e., your booth is at a store close to their schools) and are polite, cheerful and charismatic, people will support the children in their neighborhood whereever you are. Also, you will get a lot of repeat sales late in the sale... and a lot of good stories about how their husband ate all the cookies before they got any, and that sort of thing. You can also use the catch phrase, "Last Chance This Year" to increase your sales.
    I only schedule about 300 stores in the Phoenix Metro valley. There are a lot of locations that I am not scheduling that may allow you to set up a cookie booth there. Use your imagination. A parent in your troop may have a connection at some place that would work well for you. (Target, Albertsons, and Home Depot usually prohibit boothing.) Be sure to refer to your Booth Locations List to make sure you don't ask for a booth at a location I am scheduling!
    Also, you can sometimes arrange with a nearby office, apartment complex, or retirement center to allow you to booth--either door to door or set up a table in the entrance. These are hot spots that are often not exploited, and I think we miss a lot of customers because we don't take advantage of these opportunities.

  5. How Do I Request a Cookie Booth?
    If you want me to schedule you a booth, I'll need all of the information on the booth request form: Your name, address, and phone number, your troop's number and level, and a list of the places/times that you can booth. Please give me lots of choices! Remember that I take the requests on a first-come, first served basis, so if you submit your request late in January or in February, places will be limited and you will need to be flexible.

  6. Where to Find More Information.
    Let's see: You can answer a lot of your questions by checking out the rest of this site. There is a complete list of the locations that I am scheduling, a list of all of the booths that have been scheduled so far, and information on how to run a cookie booth. Make sure you check out the Cookie Booth Suggestions for ideas on how to make your booth more successful. Also, you or your troop cookie manager should receive training in your neighborhood, which will give you lots of information about cookie sales, including boothing. Your neighborhood cookie manager will always be a great source of information. And don't forget to ask other experienced leaders, especially leaders of older girl troops.