Girl Scout Sells 17,328 Boxes of Cookies

Jennifer Sharpe, a 15-year-old Dearborn, Michigan Girl Scout, sold 17,328 boxes of cookies by “setting up shop on a street corner.” This achievement may or may not be a national record because nobody’s actually keeping score, but we know nobody sold more this year. Regardless, it required a near-obsessive dedication and, as usual, quite a contribution from the adults:

Sharpe sold cookies every day on a street corner with help from her mother and troop leader, Pam Sharpe. “We were always there; we never closed,” Pam Sharpe said. “At one point, Jenny got really sick and we did shut down early, and we heard about it the next day.”

At least, her troop must have earned oodles of money, no?

Jennifer Sharpe’s Troop 813 raised about $21,000 in cookie sales, paying for its 10-day trip to Europe this winter. Troops get only part of the proceeds from their members’ sales.

That’s not bad money for a group of junior high girls selling cookies. But we know that just one girl sold 17,328 boxes. Even if none of the other girls sold so much as a single box of cookies, you’d think they’d reap more than that. That’s only $1.21 a box even if we only count Jennifer’s sales.

The cookies sell for around $4 a box. Cookies are cheap to make. What’s going on? According to the GSA,

Q: When I buy Girl Scout Cookies, where does the money go?

A: With every purchase, approximately 70% of the proceeds stays in the local Girl Scout council to provide a portion of the resources needed to support Girl Scouting in that area, including a portion that goes directly to the troop/group selling the cookies. The balance goes directly to the baker to pay for the cookies.

Obviously, the baker has to be paid. But that’s a whole lot of administrative overhead. What does “the local Girl Scout council” do with all that money? And what is the “portion” going to the girls selling the cookies?

Q: What portion of the cookie revenue is shared with the troop/group selling cookies?

A: That decision is made by each local Girl Scout council, so the portion varies from one council to another. Nationwide, an individual troop/group receives from 12-17% of the purchase price of each box sold. The troop holds the money earned in its treasury, and its girl members vote on how to use that money.

So . . . not a lot of money goes to the actual Scouts here.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    So . . . not a lot of money goes to the actual Scouts here.

    Don’t get all commie on us, James! Lets not be too critical–this is a great exercise for the kids to be exposed to the way that wealth is distributed in a capitalist system.

  2. You think the Girl Scouts are capitalists? I see this more like some Democrats telling us how much of their money we are going to be allowed to keep.

  3. mike says:

    Charles – you really need to stop pointing at Democrats as the ones wanting to spend all of your money – the current admin and the past repub controlled congress spent money like drunken sailors (I probably shouldn’t cast sailors in such a bad light). That prescription drug plan – a great way to expand the gov’t/spending —- do you really think McCain will be any difference – I am all for smaller gov’t and certainly don’t support the Dem candidates but the repubs aren’t any better

  4. yetanotherjohn says:


    Let’s follow your comment to the logical conclusion.

    Based on the numbers in the article, 30% goes to the baker (some for the box, most for the cookies I would guess). 12-17% goes to the front line organization and thus indirectly to the actual workers. The rest is going to the NGO made up of administrators who aren’t on the front line directly doing the purported mission of the organization.

    So assuming the local troop getting 12%, this works out to $1.20 to the baker per box. The local troop is getting $0.48 per box. This leaves the faceless bureaucrats in the middle getting $2.32 per box.

    I think the girls are seeing less of the capitalist system (in which case they would be buying the boxes from the baker for $1.20, paying $0.40 licensing for the use of the GSA name and collecting $2.40 for the troop) and more of a UN or government system. They aren’t giving value for the money (people could buy the cookies for about 1/3 the cost at walmart), the extra money isn’t going to who the buyer really think it is supposed to go to (the local troop) and the bureaucrats are collecting the lions share while being sanctimonious about it.

  5. William d'Inger says:

    The people who would complain that the local scouts are being cheated at a 12% – 17% cut of gross income are generally the same people who would have plurperfect sh*t fits if Exxon profits were that high.

  6. Micahel, that’s not a generic complaint. I can’t rind it right now, but there was a quote by Hillary or one of her minions to that effect a couple of years ago. But I will be the first to concede that there is little difference in spending bewteen Democrats and Republicans these days.

  7. c. wagener says:

    Perhaps these folks will finally consider my idea of “Girl Scout Cigarettes”.

  8. yetanotherjohn says:

    I thought about this a bit more. If you gave the girl scout a $1, went to walmart and bought a box of cookies (call it a $1.50), then everyone would be ahead of the game.

    You would be $2.50 ahead. The local girl scout troop is money ahead. The baker is just as happy. You have also helped in employ someone in a higher than area average wage given their skill set.

    The only one who loses out is the girl scout bureaucrats who get bupkis.

  9. Eneils Bailey says:

    I don’t give a crap about her or your knowledge of free enterprise, economics, and government.

    I just want her to work for me when she grows up. That is, up till the age of 22 or 23 when she realizes she could easily take over everything.

  10. Bandit says:

    The councils generally partially support all the troops in their district and also camps and other facilities which are available for the troops to use. The per scout dues and registrations generally only pay for a portion of the costs for operating the troop.

  11. DL says:

    In view of the fact that cookies cause obesity which now is the latest cause of global climate change((Thanks John [panderer] McCain) Since baking them heats up the place as well as uses valuable fuel that AlGore could use better, shouldn’t we have a GOP plank that stands dead set against girl scout cookies – I mean for the good of the country and all that stuff? It’s is a moral issue after all.

  12. Anderson says:

    Little girls: easy to exploit!

    I understand that in Thailand, there’s an entire industry of some sort premised on that.

  13. c. wagener says:

    Quite right DL. Here’s the strategy: launch a multi-trillion dollar class action suit, based on the 4.5 billion Americans that die each year due to obesity related disease. No one will question the 4.5 billion stat, as that would be anti-child and we all know that most cookie deaths occur in children under 12.

    Get all 57 state attorney generals and Chuck Schummer to make speeches 12 to 14 hours a day against “Big Cookie”. Get Judge Jack Weinstein to certify the class action, as all cookie addicted victims have identical health, genetic, lifestyle situations.

    Force the Girl Scouts into a multi-billion dollar bankrupting settlement. During bankruptcy, full rights to Thin Mints and Dos-Si-Dos will be sold to George Soros for a couple grand. Soros will then move manufacturing to Cuba where political prisoners can be employed for $2 a year.

  14. c. wagener says:


    This leaves me to believe the big money would come from Girl Scouts selling Brownies in Thailand.

  15. Bithead says:

    The people who would complain that the local scouts are being cheated at a 12% – 17% cut of gross income are generally the same people who would have plurperfect sh*t fits if Exxon profits were that high.

    Ain’t it real….

    This one gets my vote for comment of the month.

  16. hln says:

    James, I would guess she’s a freshman or sophomore in high school, not in junior high at age 15.

  17. James Joyner says:

    James, I would guess she’s a freshman or sophomore in high school, not in junior high at age 15.

    True. She’s at the upper end of the age range, though , no? Don’t high school kids usually go into Explorers? When I was coming up, at least, Boy Scouts started at age 11.