By Sabina Mollot
This budding saleswoman is one tough cookie!
An eight-year-old from Stuyvesant Town, who last year had the third highest cookie sales in the entire city, has done it again, also becoming the top seller of Girl Scout cookies in Manhattan. And this time, she’s beaten her previous record of 1,403 boxes of cookies with 1,728 boxes. However, that amount doesn’t even include the amount of cookies she sold after an official sale period of December 12-January 19, on her own as well as at a recent booth sale with her troop in front of the Stuy Town Associated supermarket.
At a recent conversation at her family’s apartment, Madeleine Noveck, better known as Maddie, discussed her success and the fun she’s had going door to door for what is actually America’s second best-selling cookie. (Girl Scout cookies are just behind Oreos.)
This year, Noveck’s efforts won her an iPad Air – although for her it’s just another one to throw on the pile. She also won an iPad mini two years ago and another iPad last year that she gave to her brother. But even without the prizes, for Noveck, selling cookies is the best part of being a Girl Scout and it’s why she joined. That was in kindergarten, and she didn’t start selling right away, but when she did it was with a passion. Two years ago, she succeeded in selling over 1,000 cookies, which, this year, was accomplished by only 18 girls in New York City.
Armed with a pitch about the vegan deliciousness of Thin Mints (her favorite cookie), Noveck sold the bulk of her traditional treats to neighbors in Stuy Town. Noveck’s mother Rebecca Carroll, who would accompany her daughter as she knocked on doors, estimated that she only got turned down about 10 percent of the time, and, added Noveck, “Everybody was nice.”
But it may have also helped that Noveck could be pretty persuasive. When people weren’t initially interested in shelling out $4 for a box, Noveck would quickly remind those who were on a diet or diabetic that they could choose to have cookies sent to overseas troops or Manhattan’s St. Francis Xavier family homeless shelter. The majority of the time however, “People’s eyes got big” when she told them she was selling Girl Scout cookies.
“Cookies make people smile,” she added. Noveck would also enjoy the interaction, playing with people’s babies or puppies while they decided which cookies to order. She also used the opportunity to train other Girl Scouts on the art of the deal and even met another girl, who, upon seeing Noveck selling, asked her mother, if she, too, could join Girl Scouts.
“Maddie was very comfortable knocking on strangers’ doors,” recalled Carroll. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.” The impressions her daughter made were clearly positive though, with one neighbor who works for a well-known consumer-review website even telling Noveck he’d love to hire her.
“He said, ‘Would you like to come and work for me in 15 years?’” she said.
Typically, Noveck and Carroll would head out for an hour each day to different Stuy Town or Peter Cooper buildings, which they did on 39 separate occasions this past winter.
But Noveck also peddled her products solo at other places such as her school, PS 110, and even the doctor’s office. Additionally, for the first time, she as well as other Girl Scouts had the option of selling cookies on their own online stores. This allowed customers to get their orders delivered to their homes early, if they didn’t mind paying for shipping, and Noveck sold close to 300 boxes that way.
The most popular cookie this year was the Thin Mints, followed closely by Samoas, which are caramel-flavored. While some people would just get one box, others took the opportunity to buy the seasonally available cookies in bulk, five or ten at a time, with one customer even ordering 55 boxes. “They wanted to donate some to the troops and have 10 for themselves and 10 for the shelters,” said Noveck.
Now that the selling season is over, the active third grader is hoping to be able to go on a trip with her fellow Scouts in her troop, which can be earned through cookie sales. Currently, Noveck is hoping her troop (Brownie Troop 3051) has sold enough to go on a trip to a camp ground in Savannah, Georgia, where she’s been before and loves. Other activities Noveck enjoys are drawing, playing chess and running, the latter of which she does through a program at her school called Girls on the Run. She recently completed a 5K at Randall’s Island.
Noveck’s a lifelong resident of Stuy Town, where she lives with her mom, her brother Stephen Noveck, whose Cub Scout activities were what inspired her to join Girl Scouts, and her father, also named Stephen Noveck.
Correction: An earlier version of the story said Noveck was also the top seller in Manhattan last year. While she had the third highest sales this year and last, it was her first time as top seller in Manhattan this year.