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What cookies? Inland Northwest Girl Scouts bucked the national trend

UPDATED: Wed., June 16, 2021

Girl Scout cookie sales lagged nationally, but it was a record-breaking year in Spokane, where 35,000 boxes were sold. The top Spokane seller was Larissa Truax, 13, an eighth-grader at Garry Middle School, who sold more than 3,000 boxes.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Girl Scout cookie sales lagged nationally, but it was a record-breaking year in Spokane, where 35,000 boxes were sold. The top Spokane seller was Larissa Truax, 13, an eighth-grader at Garry Middle School, who sold more than 3,000 boxes. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Inland Northwest loves its Thin Mints and the Girl Scouts who sell them.

The rest of the country may be buried in 15 million boxes of unsold cookies, but there’s scarcely a nibble to be had in Spokane. Brian Newberry, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, counted just 44 boxes Tuesday morning.

By then, he’d been flooded with emails and texts from people who’d run out of Samoas and wanted, well, Samore.

They will have to wait till next year.

“It’s been incredible, the number of texts and emails,” said Newberry, a former wing commander at Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane Public Schools board member.

“But we’ve just had the most amazing year selling cookies,” Newberry said.

Even more amazing: Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and North Idaho sold 843,810 boxes despite the pandemic and a steep drop in membership.

Among those who actually sell cookies, local participation was down 30%.

Those who remained were real troopers, selling an average of 471 boxes to rank third out of 112 councils nationwide. They also were able to donate more than 35,000 boxes to hospital care workers and troops overseas.

For that, Newberry credits the generosity of the community, perhaps aided by federal stimulus checks and the absence of sales last year, almost as much as the dedication of the Girl Scouts and his office staff.

“It was truly remarkable,” Newberry said. “Instead of buying four or five boxes, they would buy a whole case. Or two.”

That’s the only explanation for what happened this spring in Clarkston, where Sophie Henderson sold 7,136 boxes.

That also happened more than a few times in north Spokane, where Larissa Truax treated cookie sales like a dream job on the way to selling 3,103 boxes.

This spring, Truax said she spent “almost every day outside, selling cookies, eight hours a day, because Girl Scouts is my life – I just love the Girl Scouts.”

It didn’t hurt that Truax’s mother, Kayte Blackwell, is the leader of Troop #4340, or that her grandmother, who lives on a busy street, paved the way to big sales.

Truax took it from there, and she was motivated by all the right reasons.

“Because I help younger girls, kindergarten to fourth grade, how to sell cookies, and it goes to our troop,” said Truax, an eighth-grader at Garry Middle School.

“It also teaches you how to use your money, count money and how to be an entrepreneur,” Truax said, pronouncing the word like a pro. However, she didn’t volunteer any of her sales techniques.

“I just really like selling,” said Truax, who’s having a pretty good spring – she also just made the dance team at Rogers High School.

Sophie Henderson of Clarkston led the region with sales of 7,136 boxes.

That’s a good thing, because money has been a tough subject lately for the Girl Scouts. Their numbers have slowly declined in recent years, then took a major hit as the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020.

After reaching 3,400 members a year ago, the regional council currently has 2,762.

“And we had 30% fewer girls selling,” said Newberry, who noted that nationally, membership is down 30% .

“My goal is to be at 5,000,” Newberry said.

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