Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts alike are well known for their annual popcorn sale. Most people seem to either love it or hate it. Thankfully there was a lot more love to go around. Some family members would contact my parents every year to ask if I was still in Scouts, because they loved the popcorn flavors and wanted to get their annual fix.
To kick off the popcorn selling season, we would often have a big event as a pack, and they would usually even let us taste the new flavors of popcorn! I liked the flavors in the cheese lovers’ combo the best. It was also a good time to hang out with my friends and plan our strategy for how we would divide up the neighborhoods or sell popcorn together. Sometimes the pack would even throw us a “kickoff’ pizza party!
Then the sale would begin. We would have “show and sell” events, organized by the pack leaders, where two or more scouts would stand outside of local grocery stores, auto parts stores, camping stores, and so on. We were dressed in our uniforms with our best smiles on our faces. Anytime someone walked in or out of the store, we would offer them some popcorn. A lot of people just ignored us, but enough would stop and make a purchase, that we ended up selling a lot of popcorn on those days. It was a great way to increase our sales quickly!
We would also go door to door and sell our popcorn that way. We had to go in pairs or in a group for safety reasons. Often, if a Scout already lived in the neighborhood, most people would have already bought their popcorn from them. But this was also a pretty good way to sell popcorn.
Our pack asked all Scouts to sell a certain dollar amount to help cover their dues. While I was a Scout, they also introduced a program where the more popcorn you sold, it could reduce or even cover your dues completely. It was pretty cool, because then the goals became more meaningful. Of course, the organization offers prizes for certain sales goals too. One year I earned a pocket knife. Another year I earned a model airplane. They did a pretty good job of keeping us motivated!
When I was little I was not a very ambitious kid, and sometimes I would be embarrassed to have to ask anyone for anything. Because of this, asking people to buy something from me seemed pretty terrifying at first! However, I ended up being really glad I had to do the popcorn sales for just this reason. It really helped pull me out of my shell. It taught me that it never hurts to ask, and people are generally friendly and supportive! I also learned valuable selling skills and customer relations. I learned about setting goals and following through. I learned basic economic principles, and the value of a dollar. These skills help me out all the time in life today, whether I’m quoting a crawlspace encapsulation project, or helping to interview a new prospective employee. It was a great learning experience overall!