Late September – Late October
We also did Fall Sales this last year, even though we were a new troop, even though we had to do it the first month in to a brand new troop … because well, we’re absolutely nuts (pun intended). We were planning on doing it very casually and making it optional (which it was, technically) but somehow the crazy made us one of the top sellers in our service unit. (Though to be fair not a lot of troops do fall sales so that wasn’t hard).
I do recommend doing Fall Sales, though, with certain modifications. If it hadn’t been for Fall Sales there is a lot we couldn’t have done. As it was, we were flat broke by the time we finally got our cookie money and that was with getting $300 in fall sales.
We are in the Council of the National Capital, so some of this may not apply if you aren’t. I am incredibly curious as to how other councils work, so please leave a comment about how your council works if you’ve done a different fall sales. Ours was pretty complicated, maybe another reason why no one does it.
Also, for transparency sake, I am posting this now because my OCD is not allowing me to move on to November meetings until I do.
What we did, what we would do again and what we wouldn’t :
From the beginning we told the families that Fall Sales was absolutely optional. And it was. Technically. However, we were so enthusiastic (read OCD) about the whole thing the moms maybe kinda coulda felt a little pressured.
We made it seem like all the girls getting the patches was a big deal, so no one would feel left out. In our defense, we were genuinely worried about the feelings of the girls who got fewer patches. Now, looking at my daughters' 2/3 full vest back and wondering where I’m going to fit next years' patches, I realize it’s not really a big deal. I would not push that this coming year. Some girls and some moms will want all the patches and some won’t care. But it won’t come from me.
This year I’m planning on giving the parents three options from day one:
a. No, I don’t want to participate in fall sales at all.
b. Yes, I want to participate fully and want my daughter to try for the goals we set (which will probably be what’s necessary for the minimum patches, but really set by the girls participating)
c. “Buy Out”-option to donate instead- ie. last year each girl brought in an average of $35 in profit. The moms could donate that or another amount. This would give the moms an option so they don’t feel guilty about not doing it and that the other mom’s don’t feel resentful.
I think we had a mom or two who participated purely out of guilt and I think option 3 would give them a nice out. Though I’d say at least half of the troop moms were as gung-ho as I was and totally enthused.
2. We kept it in the family
The girls did not go door to door. They were encouraged to personally ask family members and help with coming up with a list of email addresses and typing them up to send to family. One or two of the moms who were completely comfortable and very enthusiastic brought the sheet to work.
I would keep this the same.
3. QSP internet program
For those of you who might not know, this is the program where you enter emails of friends and family members. They then order magazines from the girls over the internet with their credit cards (which is kinda awesome actually). There is also a “Nut Promise” part where they can buy the candy and nuts but you are responsible for delivery of those.
What I liked- Obviously, this was crazy convenient. Also, I was surprised how many people bought using this. I thought for sure the troop would sell candy and not much else. My plan, personally, was to let my kids each pick out a kids magazine to get the 2 magazines we needed for the patch that way (which I did and will do again), but then everyone in my extended family bought at least one magazine. And the magazines cost more so the troop made a lot of money on this.
What I didn’t like- Magazines had to be bought within a month to count toward troop proceeds, so I put the emails in right away. I would NOT do this again. Turns out that QSP sends out a reminder every week. I found these reminders extremely annoying. Next year, I plan (and will encourage the rest of the troop) to put in the emails maximum two weeks (or 13 days) prior to the deadline, so no on gets more then one reminder.
4. Magazine Booklets
The booklets are packets where you (or the girls really) fill out ten addresses, write a cute note to “granny” and the troop gets $2 for each book turned in. Easy way to earn money and get the girls involved right? We thought so, now I’m not so sure.
The kicker is that the $2 is all you get. So nothing your family buys goes to the troop. And they get two separate mailings. I don’t know, but looking back it doesn’t seem worth it, not the work, because that was minimal, but the bother to the people we were mailing it to. Also, now it feels a little exploitive of the girls. I don’t think I’ll do the books again.
5. Candy and Nut Sales
The stars of the Candy and Nut Sales are the ones with the tins. The tins are really, really nice. The mailbox one from last year the troop uses all the time. It was our money box for cookie sales. They are ideal for holiday gifts for teachers, coaches, dance teachers, Sunday school teachers, admin assistants, etc. If everyone in the troop just bought their own for this purpose you’d make a decent profit.
6. We chose no incentives
The deal for our counsel was the troop got 10% of sales, an extra 5% if you did no incentives, and another 2% if you made the goal of $125/per participating girl (so if someone sells one nut you were better off them not participating at all because it brings down your average).
We went round and round about this and whether to get the incentives (they get the patches regardless). In the end, my co-leader and myself decide 5% was a lot of money when most of the girls would just get a snap bracelet. I would probably choose this option again, but next year we’ll probably let the participating girls choose (girl led and all).
7. Made the girls help
It’s so easy to have this be a parent endeavor at this age. We made a point to ask the girls to help with the emails, write up the booklets and ask grandma personally. There are also computer games they can play to learn about the items. I want them even more involved in the fall.
8. Going for the Patches
Patches were as follows:
Flamingo: 2 Magazine items- Super easy to do. All my girls got this patch.
Wave: Booklet- easy to get, but may not be worth it for you. Is a good way to have the younger girls help. 7/8 got this
Sun: 12 Email Addresses- Fully recommend doing this with the above restrictions. 7/8 got this.
Beach: 10 nut items – This was harder to achieve. It’s a good goal but if they don’t get it it’s no big deal. 5/8 got this.
Goal Achiever: $125 combined sales. This was surprisingly easy. If you met the magazine and nut minimum goals you were already there or close to. One girl made it with magazines alone (some of the magazines are expensive). 6/8 got this
Product Reviews (Mostly my humble opinion ;)
Magazines: Just be aware that it may take a few months to start getting them.
Candy and Nuts:
1. Chocolate Covered Pretzels in Tin- I didn’t try these, because I don’t like chocolate covered pretzels. The tin, however was adorable and very good quality.
2. Carmel Treasures in Mailbox Tin- Tasty candy, individually wrapped so I put some in with other gifts from my daughter to family members for Christmas. She loved the chocolate caramels. And, as I said, before I use this tin all the time. It’s great.
3. Whole Cashews- My in-laws got these and put them out for Thanksgiving. They were delicious. The sea salt must have really helped.
4. Pistachios- good. Pistachios.
5. Wasabi Almonds- I didn’t try these.
6. Blueberry Pomegranate Nut Crunch- I was really excited about these, but in the end found it bland. It was a filling snack though.
7. Chocolate Covered Raisins- I didn’t try these.
8. Cranberry Nut Mix - I didn’t try these.
9. Peanut Butter Bears – Very cute, bigger then Reeses,’ not nearly as good.
10. Deluxe Pecan Clusters - Delicious. My favorite candy.
11. Chocolate Covered Peanuts- I didn’t try these
12. Gummi Berries- These were my daughter’s favorites. They were fine. They taste more like a softer Dot candy then a gummy bear
13. Dark Chocolate Mint Penguins- Also very cute, but the fact that there are still some of these in my top cabinet says something.
14. Honey Roasted Peanuts- I didn’t try these.
15. Hot Cajun Crunch- Nope didn’t try these either (can you tell I have a sweet tooth).
So in summery, I would do fall sales again, but I would:
1. Try to dial it back a notch. (If I can. Damn you OCD! Damn you!!).
2. Give the parents a “buy out" option.
3. Get the girls participating more involved in decisions.
4. Send out emails later.
5. Probably not send out booklets at all.
6. Buy tin candy for gifts.
7. Hit up close family members only.