LaCucaracha’s Girl Scout Troop 865 sold a record setting 125,000 boxes of cookies this year. The Texas Cockroach tracked down Alice Browne, Troop Leader, and busy mother of three girls for an exclusive interview.
TCR: What does Girl Scouts mean for you and your daughters as a mother?
Alice: It’s such a learning and growing experience for young girls. It teaches them life skills like direct selling, maintaining a product mix, telemarketing to relatives, producing under the pressure of quotas and handling rejection. My girls have mastered the art of using charm to close a deal through Girl Scouts. I’m confident no matter what career path they choose, Girl Scouts has taught them relentless, cut throat marketing skills.
TCR: Can you give me an example?
Alice: Last year my daughters and I arrived outside the grocery store at 6:00 am to set up our cookie table, when we were horrified to see a Troop from Sintown had arrived at 5:30 am and was offering free hot chocolate to customers. I was ready to pack it up and go home, but little Jenny said, “That’s okay Mommy. I have an idea.” Well, we setup on the other side of the door, and Jenny started asking shoppers if they would like to buy a box of cookies to send to our troops. It’s hard enough to deny a cute little girl selling cookies in the cold, but to also deny our troops – no one could resist her pitch. When I asked her how she was going to pay to ship all those cookies to the military, she gave me that puppy dog look and said, “I said our ‘Troops,’ Mommy. We’re part of a Girl Scout ‘Troop.’ That makes us ‘Troops’ doesn’t it?” She sold that same box of Peanut Butter Patties 200 times that day, and we munched the whole box on the way home. Zig Ziglar would have been so proud of her!
TCR: That’s a little disturbing. What about citizenship, honesty, community, charity and campouts? I thought that’s what Girl Scouts was all about?
Alice: This year, for the first time, we’ve had time to explore those chapters in the Troop Manual. It’s really been a lot of fun. Normally, we’re too busy running the cookie business to do anything else. Since we outsourced the sales operation to China, it’s really brought our Troop much closer together.
TCR: What do you mean by “outsourced to China?”
Alice: Last year, my girls and I were waiting to see a feature on 60 minutes about Miley Cyrus, but we had to sit through this bleeding heart segment about how awful those Chinese kids have it working for 18 hours a day in a factory, not having enough to eat – you know the type of program – feel guilty for being an American. Little Emily made the comment, “I don’t know why they’re complaining. At least they get paid something. We don’t get paid anything for selling Girl Scout cookies.” I tried to explain that our Troop gets a 12% cut from each box we sell, but my little angels wouldn’t relent. They kept saying, “Mommy, why can’t we hire those Chinese kids to sell our cookies this year?” I thought about it, did some checking on the Internet, and told them I thought it was a splendid idea. I always try to embrace my children’s ideas.
TCR: So, how exactly did you import a child labor force from China to LaCucaracha?
Alice: Oh, it’s a lot easier than you would think. They have these programs looking for host parents to expose Chinese children to American life. They even fly them over here and deliver the kids right to your door. We made it a team project with our Troop. One of the moms would make up a big pot of rice, and another would drive her van around and pick up all of the little girls and drop them off outside area businesses at around 6:00 am with a bag of rice to eat and a carton of cookies to sell. Another mom would pick them up about 8:00 pm and bring them home.
TCR: How can you sleep at night exploiting these young children?
Alice: Nonsense, it’s nothing we wouldn’t do to our own daughters to sell cookies. Besides, these Chinese kids are ecstatic to be out of those dark factories. Most of them have never seen a blue sky before. They love being outside in the fresh air. I’ll admit at first, a couple of them kept chattering and pointing to a Texas Guidebook they had brought with them with pictures of the beach, the Alamo, Six Flags, and cowboys, but my husband Hank cured them of that nonsense. He pointed to the cowboy picture, and they got real excited and kept saying “cowboy, cowboy!”
The next morning, he took them along with him to help work cattle. It was time to turn the yearlings into steers, and they got firsthand experience helping out. After ten hours of castrating cattle, they fried up the rocky mountain oysters, and gave each of the girls a healthy portion on top of their bowls of rice. The next morning they were begging me, “Cookies! Cookies! No cow nuts!”