Girl Scout takes cookie sales to the Web

Wild A. Freeborn, sporting pigtails and the trademark green vest, ends her sales pitch for Girl Scout cookies with a simple appeal:

“Buy cookies! And they’re yummy!”

Want cookies?: Asheville Girl Scout Wild Freeborn is on a mission to sell 12,000 boxes of cookies. Here, she appears in an online video promoting her campaign. The proceeds will help pay for her troop to attend summer camp.

That’s where the YouTube video ends and the social networking begins for Freeborn, a Girl Scout with Troop 71 in Asheville. With a little help from her father, former Asheville City Council member Bryan Freeborn, the enterprising young woman is using a variety of Internet social networks in an attempt to sell a whopping 12,000 boxes of cookies—enough to pay for the whole troop to attend summer camp, he says.

“We’re hoping there’s a lot of success in the approach,” says Freeborn, who is chief operating officer of Top Floor Studio, a local Web-design company. “And we hope Wild learns a valuable lesson in networking and building relationships.”

Freeborn says he posted the short YouTube video last week and then followed up by creating a Web site. He also used Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and to spread the word about his daughter’s cookie push in cyberspace. The idea, says Freeborn, came after he and Top Floor Chief Executive Officer Ty Hallock gave a presentation about online marketing to a UNCA class. After the video and sales announcement went online Jan. 23, Freeborn says his daughter racked up pre-orders for more than 400 boxes of cookies after having gathered 40 pre-orders by going door to door in her neighborhood.

“Part of the reason the Girl Scouts sell cookies is to teach girls about entrepreneurship and networking,” notes Freeborn. “We thought we could save some time and effort, sell more cookies and learn” from the process.

Tamara Blankenship, product sales manager for the Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council, says she’s seen Girl Scouts be creative in their sales, but Wild Freeborn “has definitely taken it a step further.”

Blankenship says girls have had to think of new ways to sell since the organization, worried about children’s safety, discouraged them from going door to door. Today, the most common sales method is setting up a booth in front of a store, she reports. The average Girl Scout sells about 180 boxes of cookies, notes Blankenship, adding that the local council’s 2,100 Girl Scouts sold 322,076 boxes of Thin Mints and other assorted flavors last year. A box of cookies costs $3.50.

“The cookie sales make up about half of our annual budget, and we use the money to offset fees for programs” and provide scholarships, Blankenship explains.

Last last week, the Girl Scouts of America asked Bryan Freeborn to take down the YouTube video, worried that it might violate regulations regarding Internet sales. But Freeborn says he’s certain the video doesn’t break any rules, and it’s still posted on the Web site Top Floor created for his daughter.

“We hope this takes off,” he says.


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25 thoughts on “Girl Scout takes cookie sales to the Web

  1. Emily

    Thanks for cornering the market, Bryon..
    This has made it so fun for all the other girls to sell cookies..

  2. Bryan Freeborn


    LOL. Even if Wild reaches her personal goal of 1,000 she will only have cornered the market on less than 1/2 of 1% of what was sold in WNC last year. If her troops reaches 12,000 boxes it will have helped GSWNC hit 4% of last years orders.

  3. Emily

    Yeah, year..buddy…
    Bring’s gonna be Brownie Cookie Smackdown ’09

  4. Cindy

    I would be worried about her name and face being plastered over the internet. I am sure you probably heard that myspace has found and deleted over 90,000 sex offenders just this pasted week. Who knows what they have done while they were on. SAFETY SHOULD BE YOUR FIRST CONCERN. They not only have her name, her troop #, the town she lives in and the fathers name!!

  5. Terry

    According to GSUSA Safety Wise (the GS Bible) Girl Scouts are not allowed to sell cookies over the internet.

  6. christy

    When a Girl Scout signs the agreement to sell cookies she signs that she will not sell the cookies on-line. I am very curious, the purpose of girl scouts is doing the right thing, and she is breaking the rules and her dad is helping.

    In our council you get caught breaking the rules and you loss your sales, so since this is a MAJOR rule breaker what is going to happen?

  7. Girl Scout

    GSUSA’s Internet Sales policy clearly states, “Sales on a Web site on
    the Internet* of any products sold in council-sponsored product sales,
    such as Girl Scout cookies, candy, nuts, calendars, or magazine
    subscriptions, may not be conducted by anyone at any time. *Sales on
    the Internet include online auctions, broadcast email messages, and/or
    posting on individual Girl Scout, troop/group, or Girl Scout council
    Web sites.

  8. moontime

    The people saying she is breaking the rules clearly did not read the whole article. The Girl Scouts don’t seem to have a problem with what she is doing, so why should you?

  9. Christy

    As usual not everything is not printed. This is a response when GSUSA (the main Girl Scout Council who has final say of the rules the Girl Scouts puts forward), and a local girl scout council:

    National does have the final say. I was curious about the leaders here that said their councils permit internet sales, so I called GSUSA to ask why some councils allow it and some do not.

    The answer I got: NO COUNCIL may permit girls to sell online. Furthermore, the person I spoke to said this particular girl is in violation of GSUSA policy.
    I had also emailed our council product sales manager and got the following response:

    Yes we were made aware of this. It is a council in N Carolina. GSUSA has been in contact with the council and the parent and has asked them to take it down.
    As you are aware Safety-Wise does not allow girls to sell on the internet. They can email friends and family but not do broadcast sales requests. GSWPA does not permit any internet sales by Girls Scouts.

  10. terry

    Because it’s not right.

    I applaud the young lady for her efforts and her desire to sell cookies to get to her and her troops goal. But she is violating the rules.

    As far as GSUSA not having a problem with it – it is probably due to the publicity she is getting. If there was not an article I am sure she would have been told to take it down by now.

  11. Cindy

    I agree that she is breaking the rules. What surprises me the most is that everyone is more concerned with the rules than the girls safety- especially the dad!!!

  12. Matthew Markie

    Clear Violations of GSUSA Policy – I continue to challenge the Freeborn Family for not following the rules that all Girl Scouts agree to in the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Please express your concerns to the folks at the Girl Scouts Western North Carolina; Tamara Blankenship Product Sales Manager at and Molly Keeney CEO

  13. Matt Markie

    Clear Violations of GSUSA Policy – I continue to challenge the Freeborn Family for not following the rules that all Girl Scouts agree to in the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Please express your concerns to the folks at the Girl Scouts Western North Carolina; Tamara Blankenship Product Sales Manager at and Molly Keeney CEO

  14. Clare

    Congratulations, Bryan! You’ve robbed your daughter of one of the valuable lessons that comes from this activity.

    The reason for exercises like cookie selling, beyond fundraising for the troop, is to teach little girls to take initiative and responsibility for projects that are appropriate for their age. By giving them ownership over small things like selling cookies, they are being prepared to tackle larger projects in the future.

    You may think you’ve taught “Wild” about networking, but you’ve simply assumed the “helicopter parent” position and usurped power from her. What’s more, you’ve taught her that daddy will swoop in and take care of her responsibilities. Perhaps this is subconsciously what you want – it’s classic co-dependence. You need her to need you, so you thwart these early exercises in independence.

  15. Mr. Suprised

    I can’t beleive that Mr. Freeborn would allow his child to be USED for his own lame attempt at web promotion for his struggling company. Sadly, mr freeborn is selling out his child, endangering her, and breaking the rules because girls scouts are NOT allowed to sell their cookies online. Your article quoted the director, and she too is wrong. . mr freeborn further proves he should never make decisions for public citizens. ever. We should denegrate this article, not support it.

  16. Maximum Bob

    Oh MR.Markie,
    Is it sour grapes you’re experiencing because you’re not savvy enough to have thought this idea through – or first? I agree with Miss Freeborn’s method, but I think it would be appropriate that the local council should have every troop set up with their own website to do this very thing.
    I called both the local council and the National Office and appauded Miss Freeborn’s sprit of leadrship. After all, this is the 21st Century and we elected a president that promises change – so shouldn’t a girl scout be reconized in a positive way to helping to institute change?

  17. Breanna

    ITS NOT FAIR other girlscouts have to work and all she has to do is sit around its against the GS code and she should be disqualified this year and next!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. A Girl Scout

    First my mom is helping me type this. As a 11 year old who has been in scouts since I have been old enough, I have to say this girl shows those WHO SHOULD NOT BE IN SCOUTS. I was very dissapointed when my mom showed me this article. We have rules just as anyone such as school, work, driving, and sports. The rules state we can not do on line sales for whatever reason. Then when I read through the responses with my mom those who said good for her…boy are you a bad adult, you should be helping her follow directions NOT encourage her to break them. If the internet is what she wanted then she should have taken action to get this rule changed, Girl Scouts listen to all the girls, all she had to do was suggest a rule change and fight for it. AND IF IT PAST then let her be on line.

  19. WC

    This creative and innovative girl seized an opportunity. As a result, Matthew Markie had to stomp all over her efforts and cry to the parent organization about this. The Girl Scouts openly make cookie sales a competition… someone tries to get ahead in the race and all you helicopter parents are using Matthew Markie to cry about fairness”?!

    Clare, I don’t see how Mr. Freeborn robbed his daughter of anything. In the real world, when one has an idea, but doesn’t have the means to execute it themselves, that person asks people who know questions. That’s a culture we promote at my business… teamwork, helping each other out, problems are solved better in teams than by individuals. According to the article, Mr. Freeborn never forced the internet on his daughter… SHE asked her dad about it.

    Of course, this is just another manifestation of socialism which is taking our country by storm. Someone is sticking out from the rest of the group so let’s hammer her under the guise of the collective good. It’s really sad the target is a little girl.

    Again, absolutely pathetic (and not to mention his daughters are in their 20s and he’s still in scouting… Cindy, if you’re worried about RSOs, this is the first place you need to look)!

  20. a girl scout

    Once again this is the scout with her mom writting. I have always acheived my goal of over 1,000. If I wanted to get my goal my told me there are ways, we walked, and walked and sold cookies door to door, we did cookie booths. If I choose not to sell like this year then I did not earn my goal. It is up to ME the scout to earn my goal, NOT my parents.
    I am really upset that everyone is ok with the girl breaking the rules, I have even taken this a step farther and am doing a debate in school on this. I work hard for my goals, and it is up to me to get there, NOT MY PARENTS (side note this is the scouts mom, I have always given my daughter the ways and means to acheive her goal. If she tells me about a cookie booth and she cango, I take her, I will walk with her to sell cookies. However I will NOT sell her cookies for her. If she wants them sold at my work she comes to my work and sells them. This is her thing. Not mine for them to really understand the reason for cookies the girl must be the one who sells it. Also to be fair she is NOT the first girl to sell on line every year there is one or two that sell on line)

  21. Smantica

    I am a Troop leader in New York. I agree that this girl clearly broke the rules and therefore should face the penalties of not being able to count the sales made via the internet. But I also agree that the Girl Scouts need to get with the times and amend their rules for cookies sales on-line. Even if it seems like a silly, outdated rule – the Girl Scout Law is the Girl Scout Law. In NY it is against the law to talk on your cell phone while driving and I think that is a silly rule, but I will still get a ticket if I am caught breaking it

  22. Matt Markie

    Please note that I am not against using the internet to announce and promote sales which is within the acceptable use of the internet in the policy. Where this situation has crossed the line is in the ability to order directly through the internet. I am willing to work to change the policy with the Girl Scouts but as of today, the implementation referred to in the article is a violation of the current policy.

    I am thankful this situation is getting the attention I had hoped for.

    The GS USA policy is outdated and needs to change, but what is truly unacceptable is that this parent is setting the wrong example for this girl and misrepresenting the goals of our organization. We must have this debate within the organization where we can truly change the policy as a nationwide effort.

    There are plenty of programs offered to girls though the Girl Scout Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs for growing girls leadership skills in emerging technologies. Girl Scouts recently revised the GS Leadership program and new materials and pathways for our key objectives of Discover, Connect and Take Action! GS is working with Microsoft to promote Online Safety for Girls, and for years has hosted technology programs at IBM.

    The issue at hand is the policy that Girl Scouts cannot sell online and how it is enforced, and even better – how it should change.

  23. Wedding Gown

    Each year my little girl scout comes close to being the top cookie seller in her troop but falls just short of the top prize. This mainly happens as the rich parents in the troop buy hundred boxes for themselves so their daughters have high sales. This is very unfair to my daughter as I’m not going to buy hundreds of boxes.However, this year I pulled it off. I put in a fake order for over 1,500 boxes under the name of a neighbor that I knew would decease before the arrival of the cookies. So when the prizes where handed out all I had to say was my top buyer had deceased. Through a loophole in the girl scout cookie selling manual my daughter was declared top seller. I was so proud to see my daughter take that top wife is very angry about this as she did not know what was going out till it was over. Demands our daughter returns the top prize. There is NO WAY I’m returning this prize after all that hard work. How can I tell my wife nicely to sit back and be quiet?

    Wedding Gown

  24. A Girl Scout

    I’m sure this girl scout just wanted to sell a lot of boxes of cookies, just like every other girl scout in America. However, I do believe that the GSUSA rule is there for a reason and that every Girl Scout should follow them because it is all about the girl’s safety. I also understand that times are changing and the interent is an important part of our everyday lives, however, the point of cookie sales is for girls to have a hands on experience at handling money and being responsible for their orders themselves. The internet to me is not an appropriate way for these girls to get this hands on experience that the cookie sale program is in place for. There are many other activites in the girl scout program that allow girls to use the interent and have fun with it and if online shopping is what girl scouts want, then I’m sure they can create their own program that can help them learn how to that. Girls involved in the cookie sales need to get out and have that face to face contact with customers in order to learn what entrepreneurship is really about. We live in a society today where our goal is to make everything easier for ourselves, but I think the girls should get out into the world and work hard for their sales so the money they receive will have value and they can be proud of their efforts and make higher goals for themselves. That is how you really learn something.

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