West Seattle residents didn’t have a chance.
If they left a grocery store through one door, Catlin Henry was waiting for them. If they chose the other, Taylor Bartz was there.
The two 9-year-olds, by double-teaming store entrances in almost all their spare time, managed to peddle 3,210 boxes of Camp Fire candies in the recent three-week sale - a record for King County, and probably for the state, Camp Fire officials say.
How’d they do it? The girls cite two keys: persistence and politeness.
“Even if people said no, we’d say thank you,” Taylor said. “And if they said they already bought some, we’d say, ‘Thank you for supporting Camp Fire.”’
But Catlin said a little cajoling also helped. “Sometimes they said no and we’d go: ‘I know you really want to buy some,’ and they might say, ‘Oh, all right.”’
The super-selling effort started as an attempt to get a ride in a limousine. Each youngster who sells more than 500 of the $4 boxes goes on a May “fun day” starting with a limo ride.
“But when they got to 500 boxes apiece, it seemed so easy, they wanted to keep going,” said Taylor’s mom, Diane Parr.
Along the way were other milestones: 700-box sellers get their names on a plaque at the area Camp Fire headquarters; 1,000-box sellers get individual plaques.
Higher sales also meant more money for their own Camp Fire group, and for the girls themselves, more “Camp Fire currency,” scrip that can be used for activities or supplies.
After every school day during the sales period, the girls and their parents hit a grocery store for at least a couple of hours. On weekends and school holidays, they were at it from 10 in the morning until 8 at night.
“They seemed to be real troupers,” said Gail Ballard, Catlin’s mom. “They held up better than us parents.”
As sales mounted, Ballard, co-leader of the girls’ Camp Fire group, asked around to find out the record. As far as anyone could determine, the most ever sold in this area was 1,380 boxes.
Since Catlin and Taylor worked together and pooled sales, their total gave them each credit for 1,605 boxes sold.
“We promote teamwork, and I think it’s great that they did it together,” said Lael Ross of the Central Puget Sound Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
Ballard said the sales blitz was educational: “They learned how to deal with a lot of different people, and rejection didn’t seem to bother them.”
The tough times, she said, were when people would walk by and not say anything.
But more common were people who stopped to tell their own stories of selling - or helping a relative sell - Camp Fire mints in years past.
Taylor said she made sure customers got a glimpse of all three candy varieties, and though the traditional mint remained her customers’ favorite, she personally prefers the almond caramel clusters.
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