In the cinderblock basement of a church in Anacostia last September, 30 ambitious Girl Scouts and Brownies mapped out a strategy to meet Mickey Mouse.
Cookies. They would sell thousands and thousands of Girl Scout cookies. The two troops - 1240 and 1039 - would sell enough chocolate mint, peanut crunch and butter cookies to pay for a trip to Disney World.
In two weeks, the girls sold 8,820 boxes of cookies, 5,000 more than any other two troops in Washington. There were so many boxes of cookies that it took a 16-foot moving van to deliver them to the First Rock Baptist Church in Southeast where the two troops meet.
At 25 cents a box, the girls made a $2,200 profit.
Their sales approach? Laissez-faire. Some pushed doorbells in Anacostia, cookie order blanks in hand. Others stood at a booth at the Iverson Mall in Hillcrest Heights. The most successful salesgirls were those who accompanied their relatives to work.
Consider the marketing strategy of Dana Arrington, age 10. She calculated that the nurses and doctors at Children's Hospital would melt at the sight of Girl Scout cookies.
Dana's cousin is a nurse's aide at the hospital. Dana became a super salesgirl.
"Excuse me, sir, my name is Dana and I belong to Troop 1039 and I'd like to sell you some cookies," she said, throwing the basic Girl Scout sales pitch on floor after floor of the hospital. Arrington sold 140 boxes.
Then there was Tia Ashton, 10, who was so anxious to get to Florida that she bent the rules a bit. She didn't sell all her cookies herself. Instead, she put her family to work.
Her uncle, an employe of the Department of Interior, sold a few dozen boxes at work. Her father, who works for Metro, sold another couple dozen. Her grandmother, a secretary at a local high school, sold the most. Ashton herself sold five of her 132 boxes.
Mary Downs, a spokesman for the Girl Scout Council of The Nation's Capital, attributes the girls' success to their approach: "How can you turn a sweet little Brownie down?" she asked. "They're so cute and so enthusiastic."
Broadine Brown, the leader of Troop 1039, cites other reasons. "Regardless of how poor people are, they recognize Girl Scouts as a clean, legitimate organization. If I'm going to give my money to anybody, I might as well give it to a group I can trust.
"Plus, you get cookies."
The girls - members of Brownie Tropp 1240 and Junior Troop 1039 - will go to Florida June 18 aboard two buses. They will spend a week visiting Disney World and Cape Canaveral. CAPTION: Picture, Scout salesgirls include, from left, Junior Michelle Brown, Cadet Kim Patterson and Brownie Kelli Singleton. Kim is the only cadet scout in the junior troop. By Margaret Thomas - The Washington Post