The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 2, 2013

Leader of the Pack: Local girl tops cookie sales

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Ashley Coopman may not be able to sell ice to Eskimos, but odds are she can peddle them Girl Scout cookies all day long.

The Mankato West High senior is the community’s top Scout when it comes to annual cookie sales. And unlike the trend toward selling from cookie booths set up in stores, she does it the old-fashioned way — door to door.

“I go out every day I can,” she said as she prepared for today’s “season opener” for sales that run through mid-March.

The top local seller for the past several years, Coopman plans to be house-calling from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

It’s a lot of work to sell 2,000 boxes a year, but it’s a task made easier by repeat customers who seemingly have no intention of letting her quit.

“They say, ‘You’ll be back again next year, right?’ And I say, ‘Of course.’”

Coopman has been selling since first grade. The secret to her success is straight out of Salesmanship 101.

“I’m outgoing. I’m not afraid to talk to people.”

For buyers who might balk at $4 a box and say cookies at the store are cheaper, she comes with this:

“But these are much better — and they only come out once a year.”

Coopman said the average customer purchases three or four boxes with some buying up to three 12-box cases.

Coopman doesn’t just sell to her sizable roster of longtime customers. She’s also driven to knock on new doors and speaks about it like a college marketing major in waiting.

“We try to find new neighborhoods to expand the customer base there.”

Coopman’s sales prowess already has won her two iPads, so she doesn’t need another computer. This year she’s going for a ‘’cookie credits” selling prize that would give her a summer trip to San Francisco, the costs of which are partially underwritten by the Girl Scouts.     

Coopman and other area Scouts are part of the expansive Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys Council that sells millions of boxes each year and routinely leads the nation in sales.

The national Girl Scout cookie drive is a $750 million business that finances programming and support for more than 3.2 million girls.

And if the Scouts don’t come to you, you can go to the Scouts via a new app for Android or iPhone (cookiefinder.org) that tells seekers where they can buy.

The national one-year record for individual Scout cookie sales is unofficially held by either Jennifer Sharpe of Detroit, who sold 17,328 boxes in 2008, or by Elizabeth Brinton of Fairfax, Va., who in the 1980s is said to have sold 18,000 in a season.