Jennifer Marcy, Lily Sheehan and Gessica Sandvall

Gilbert Troop 2412 Girl Scouts, from left, Jennifer Marcy, Lily Sheehan and Gessica Sandvall are ready to supply the town’s cookie needs.

Gilbert eighth-grader Lily Sheehan’s sales pitch is down pat for the annual Girl Scouts’ cookie-selling season that kicked off last week.

“I say, ‘Hi, would like to buy any delicious Girl Scouts cookies?’” the 13-year-old recited. “And I smile. If they don’t, I ask if they would like to donate cookies to the military. For every no, there’s a yes.”

Lily’s delivery hasn’t failed her yet.

Last year, the Highland Junior High School student sold 3,000 boxes of the confections, earning her a spot in the exclusive Mighty Mint Club for girls who sell over 2,000 boxes of Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, S’mores and Toffee-tastics.

Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council’s cookie-selling goal this year is 3 million boxes, up from the 2.8 million last year. 

“The goal goes up every year,” said Alex Anton, a spokeswoman for the Cactus-Pine Council. “Each year we want the girls to strive as much as possible when it comes to cookie sales.”

The Council’s top cookie seller last year was Maddie Dunlap of Parker, who sold 4,043 boxes, according to Anton.

Although membership in the Girl Scouts overall has been declining over the past few years, cookie sales have been climbing. The Cactus-Council, which covers northern and central Arizona, has just shy of 20,000 girls.

“Actually, the per-girl average has been going up,” Anton said of the sales. “Each girl individually has been selling more cookies than the past year.”

All of the council’s sale proceeds stay in Arizona and a portion is given back to the troops to help fund their activities. Five of the cookie varieties sell for $5 while the S’mores and Toffee-Tastics, gluten-free cookies, sell for $6 a box.

“Girls usually spend it on projects they are working on, community service projects, go on trips, whatever they need as a troop,” Anton said. “Girls sometimes save the money for years to go on trips later on.”

Troop 2412, which includes Lily, Jenny Marcy, 13, and Gessica Sandvall, 13, planned to donate some of its proceeds this year toward an animal rescue group in Gilbert. Last year’s cause was Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa.

The six-week fundraising campaign is more than just hawking cookies for the scouts.

“It’s taught me money management, people skills, goal setting and probably leadership,” said Lily, who has been peddling cookies since second grade and has been selling 2,000 boxes a year for many years.

The other skills scouts also learn are business ethics and decision-making, Anton added.

“This is a great way for girls to get out in the community, meet new people and become more comfortable speaking to new people,” which will help them later on in life, she said.

The girls sell most of their cookies by knocking on neighborhood doors, which the Girl Scouts compared to kind of like DoorDash for Girl Scout Cookies, and at booths stationed most notably in front of grocery stores such as Fry’s, Bashas’ and Safeway.  

The game plan is to position the girls at all the doors of a store to optimize reaching customers, said Liz Marcy, Jenny’s mom and co-leader of the troop. 

“They engage with every person that enters and exits a store, saying ‘hello’ and saying ‘good bye,” added Danaleigh Sheehan, the other co-leader and Lily’s mom. “Often that triggers interaction for selling cookies. It’s not like high-pressured; they’re not jumping the customers.”

Lily added last year she also sold the cookies at school, her church and at some sporting meets and credited her family’s help for her high-sale volume. The girls are accompanied by a guardian when they are out selling.

Scouts also can sell cookies online by building their own cookie website and managing their virtual sales.

Sheehan said she and Lily spent on average 24 hours a week selling cookies last year. The family last week had on hand an initial stockpile of 1,000 boxes of cookies.

The troop for 2018-19 sold 5,933 boxes; for 2017-18, 5,826 boxes and for 2016-17, 4,790 boxes, according to Sheehan.

Although Marcy admitted “it’s very competitive” selling cookies in the Val Vista Lakes community where quite a few other troops also are based; at the end they all work collaboratively. 

And, she said when she passes another scout’s booth, she tries to leave behind a contribution.

People who don’t want the calories can opt to buy the cookies as a donation to the military or for the nonprofits St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank and St. Mary’s Food Bank. Last year, customers donated over 10,000 cookies through the Girl Scouts’ Cookies for the Community program.

New for this year are revamped packaging and a new signature cookie – Lemon-Ups, crispy lemon cookies stamped with an inspiriting message like “I’m a leader,” and “I’m an innovator.” The new cookie replaces the Savannah Smiles cookie.

Thin Mints is the No. 1 seller, followed by Samoas , a caramel and toasted coconut-covered cookie, according to Anton, who added the shortbread Trefoils were the very first cookie sold by the Girl Scouts.

For Lily, Thin Mints also is her top seller while her favorite cookie is the Do-si-dos, an oatmeal-and-peanut butter cookie. 

A pro at selling cookies, Lily is upping her goal this year to sell 3,500 boxes of cookies and land a place in the Mighty Mint Club again, which offers rewards.