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  • Booked since January!

    I had quite a shock when I called our local grocery store to get a date in October to sell popcorn and they said they had been booked up since January for aug/sept/oct !!!

    I had no idea in January I would be in charge of the popcorn, but this year I am going to call 7 months in advance!

    I ended up getting us a spot at Lowes for the September distribution date. Anyone ever sold at lowes/home depot type store? Our lowes is located in the same parking lot as Walmart (I called walmart also, but they were booked for that day, and the lady in charge said they had been booked for a long while as well).

    I am just hoping since its a store full of mostly men, that some of them might have been boy scouts and want to buy from our kids This will be my first ever show and sell of any time, so any hints/tips/tricks are appreciated. (we are cub scouts)

    PS one more question, I have read on various internet sites, that people buy the boxes of microwave popcorn and break them up to sell for $1 a pack. My two questions about this are:
    1. Are you allowed to do this?
    2. I *think* at a show and sell, that I wouldn't want to have a $1 option as people who might have spent $10 for a tin of popcorn will opt for the $1 instead and you need to sell to 10 people to get $10 rather than one person to get $10. Any thoughts on this?(This message has been edited by jc2008)

  • #2
    There are federal regulations on food packaging - nutritional information for example.

    The individual packets probably do not meet those regulations.

    Not sure if a Scout group could do that but a grocery store certainly could not.


    • #3
      Oops! We're one of those units that's guilty of booking early!

      Seriously. We only booked a couple of months earlier.....not January. Wow!

      Yes. We sell at Lowe's every year. It is our best location over CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. I think the Lowe's folks have more disposable income or they just can't resist a cute Tiger. Lowe's has lots of weekend traffic with grandparents, moms and families, too. Not just Y chromosome types. We tried to book another Lowe's across town and the manager told us corporate Lowe's does not allow store front sales. We couln't book it. So, it seems as if the manager is making special arrangements for us at our local Lowe's. Yay!

      Our Council offers a good training class for Kernels. They have lots of tips for selling. Check with your Council on this.


      • #4
        Thanks a lot Polaris! I was worried we didn't have a good spot. Well its my first time and I don't think we should have too much trouble beating the $3k that the pack made last year with nearly 40-50 boys.


        • #5
          This is what we do:

          We book 2-3 locations per weekend. We try to schedule more locations early in the season when customers are fresh.

          We had 44 scouts sell last year and we sold about $17,000 at tables ($18,000 with online, door-to-door and donations.)

          The scouts do the selling. This year, we will have the scout pick up the $30 tin, walk up to the customer, smile, and say, "Hello, sir. Would you like to support scouting and buy some TAAASTY popcorn." If the customer doesn't want to drop $30, they can always go lower. The scouts know the prices (denominations of 5) and they know 70% of the price goes back to scouting. Everyone stands up--no camp chairs. The total table sales are pooled and each scout gets "sales credit" based on how many hours they worked. So, they can work one hour or 16 hours. If they work one hour, parents know they will pay more in dues out of pocket.

          Last year we sold at a used bookstore. Lots of traffic.....but....Ugh. It was bad. Those folks were there lookin' for a discount and $20 popcorn certainly doesn't fit the bill.


          • #6
            There are certain locations you do not want to sell at. Here, it is at Winn Dixie stores. It seems the people who shop there are looking for low low prices, and they don't want to buy overpriced popcorn.

            We've sold at Kohls, and did ok. Not fantastic (much lower than the grocery store in the same complex--did both on the same day), but much better than at the WD. We've also done gas stations, and those were a nightmare--good for $5 camp cards, not $30 popcorn.

            Lowe's and Home Depot are good sellers as well, especially if you can get in all day. A lot of the people we've had buy at these locations are people that saw us earlier in the day, and came back after getting some cash or their checkbook.

            We do split the single bagged boxes into single bags. Seems we sell more that way--easier to part with $1 or $2 than it is with $20. Not supposed to, but we do.

            We also take donations--but no soliciting for them. You can have a jar or something on the table, but no asking for money. We tend to run about $100 a day in donations.

            One thing to remember, you don't want to have the money laying around. When the donation jar starts to get full, empty it but for a single dollar or some change.

            Don't have all your money in one place. We use two lockboxes per spot. One has a small amount of change ($30-40 in ones and fives) and is on the table for accessibility. The other has the remainder of the money (including donations, but those are put in a ziplock and kept separate); and that is kept in a box with popcorn. No children in the money boxes---the buyer hands the money to the kid, the kid hands the money to the adult, and if change is needed, just reverse the process.

            We also require one adult to sign before and after their shift--money must be counted by incoming and outgoing adults, as well as product counts. (We count the donation money as well, on it's own line on the spreadsheet.) We have had no product or money go missing in the last two years, doing this. (well, as far as we know--can't accurately say if donations are missing or not, but if they are, they are not for very much!)

            Scouts should be in full uniform (or if it's as miserable there as it is here sometimes, we allow pack tshirts instead--but only if it's above 95F or 90% humidity). Scouts stand. We do allow short breaks for a drink but then it's back to work. (Parents can sit in camp chairs.) Also, always always two deep leadership. Several years ago, we had a grandparent show up with her two grandsons to sell, and she passed out--no one else was there but her. Talk about a scary situation. If there isn't two deep, then the Kernal or assistants have to stay and cover the 2nd position!

            Parents dont' sell. Parents talk up the pack and BSA. We always have spare flyers about our pack at the table, in case someone wants the information. (pack website, CM name, phone number, where we meet at and when, plus some attention grabbers, like camping or archery). We encourage our parents to be in pack shirts as well (or uniform, if they are registered with us).


            • #7
              That is mighty unscout like Polaris 2 or 3 locations per weekend??????

              So your pack or Troop dominates and area and prevents anyone else from having an opportunity to sell at the store fronts....


              • #8
                Has anyone ever sold outside of an Athletic club? We have a huge club here that has a restaurant for members, swimming pools, etcetc and its very high traffic. I spoke to the owner and he would love to have the cub scouts do their fundraiser outside. He even started talking about doing a fitness presentation at our pack meeting, giving discounts to membership for people in our pack and mentioned getting us set up with cooperate sponsorship. (I was a bit overwhelmed at all this enthusiasm but i smiled and was enthusiastic right back). I dont know how much we can accept of all that 'legally' by BSA, but I am going to talk to my district representative tonight at the roundup.

                I just think its going to be funny, the people walking out of the health club after a workout being offered some nice Caramel popcorn tins! Maybe I should get some of those 100 calorie packs for in front of there? There is also a discount store within 30 feet of the health club entrance (they are right next to each other in the big strip mall) and the health club owner owns that too and gave us permission to work both doors. S


                • #9
                  If he is offering $$$$ see what strings are attached. What would you do with a huge influx of Cash???? Pinewood derby track??? Timer or pay for everyones summer camp next year.

                  You need to be able to tell him what his $$$ is going to be used for.

                  Under no circumstances tell your DE he will bleed this cash cow till it dies....

                  If you do get some money from him, I am sure he is going to want your 403b number....just make sure you have your COR let the IH know about the donation.

                  Invite him to your pinewood derby and blue and him what he is supporting and have the boys make him a thank you gift of some sort...


                  • #10
                    Ok, since we are in the capital city of Nevada, last year we were in front of one of the bigger casinos in town (Carson City IS NOT VEGAS 50,000 people here) and we did quite well. I know the feeling jc2008, ALL the stores around town are already booked by other Troops or Packs. Well we are doing two casinos and our little shopping mall that has a nice outdoor eating plaza where we did quite well last year. I think Lowes is a great idea. Good luck!
                    Oh, and we did the microwave popcorn in packs of three for $5 and we broke down the box combo packs. It was the only way to get cheese corn last year!
                    BTW, OMG some of the flavors this year sound so amazing! Double caramel with a hint of cheese for me please.(This message has been edited by suzisk8)


                    • #11
                      Regarding your question "I *think* at a show and sell, that I wouldn't want to have a $1 option as people who might have spent $10 for a tin of popcorn will opt for the $1 instead and you need to sell to 10 people to get $10 rather than one person to get $10. Any thoughts on this?"

                      Someone already mentioned the possible health dept. concerns, but it is my understanding that BSA expressely forbids this, although it may simply be my Council. I tend to believe National because they came out with a $10.00 8-pack option, which I am guessing in reply to the exact frustration you were voicing!


                      • #12
                        The other side of that is you will lose all of the $1 and $2 donations.


                        • #13
                          The last year I was PK in the States (2008), our council's fundraising chief told us that she would personally pull the charter for any unit she found opening the microwave popcorn and selling individual packets. She also said no "Donation" tins. But, did not forbid accepting a donation. In my experience, men don't want to deal with change or ones, and are more likely to say, "Keep the change as a donation."

                          If you open the boxes, you are violating some food regs that require nutritional information on packaging. Your council will be held ultimately responsible by whatever regulator is responsible for this type of enforcement if some kind of issue develops. I don't think the allergy warnings are on the individual bags.

                          Once again this begs the question of why don't we have a $3 product? You know how we sell so many Girl Scout cookies? They are less than $5 a box.


                          • #14
                            Yeah, we are NOT opening boxes. I figured if someone would give us $1 for microwave popcorn, they most likely will just give us that $1 as a donation. After reading everyone's responses, that will be my final decision on the matter. I only ordered one case of microwave popcorn per location anyways (8 boxes per case).

                            I don't really think the cookie fundraiser would be quite as good even at $4 a box. I mean they get 50cents per box of cookies back to the girl scout troop. And they probably don't get a lot of donations. Why give 1-5$ as a donation when you could actually buy a box of cookies for cheap. The higher pricing on the popcorn will end up soliciting a lot more donations since there is nothing in the under $5 range for them to use these donation dollars for. At least that is my theory! And one $10 tin of popcorn = 7 boxes of cookies in terms of what comes back to the Pack/Troop.
                            (This message has been edited by jc2008)


                            • #15
                              I do not like splitting the boxes for individual sales.

                              However, I don't have any problem at all to giving a single pack out to someone who makes a donation. Often make more profit from a single pack than I would from a $10 pack of caramel Corn.