With Reagan's Help, Girl Scout Salesgirl Liz Brinton Shows the Way the Cookie (Record) Crumbles

updated 04/07/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/07/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

It's not every ninth grader who carries a business card, but Elizabeth Brinton of Falls Church, Va. isn't just any ninth grader. Her card reads Girl Scout Cookie Queen, and Brinton has the credentials to back up her claim. The enterprising 14-year-old holds the unofficial world record for Girl Scout cookie sales—11,281 boxes last year. Hoping to top that figure this year, Brinton decided to expand into new territory, so she asked her Congressman to arrange an interview with President Reagan. As a result, Brinton and her parents, a computer consultant and a real estate saleswoman, visited the White House on Jan. 9. Liz came away with a sale of seven boxes of cookies (all flavors) from the First Customer.

Ah, but things can get sticky in the cookie biz. Brinton came under fire from fellow Girl Scouts and their parents for jumping (by one day) the official start of the cookie-selling season. As it turned out, she previously had been given a presidential dispensation by Girl Scout officials. Since then, Brinton has received other orders from high places—Treasury Secretary James Baker, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Vice-President George Bush, who bought seven boxes of Do-si-dos that Liz delivered in person.

With sales concluding this week, Brinton is approaching the 50,000-box mark for her nine-year cookie-hawking career. Liz says her secret is an indefatigable sales approach. Accompanied by her mother after school and on weekends, Brinton sets up a booth in shopping malls and on city street corners. Surrounded by cases of her product, she collars passersby. "You have to look them in the eye," she says, "and let them know you're confident about your product." Veteran that she is, Brinton has heard all the excuses. When one potential customer said he had already ordered 12 boxes, Brinton coolly suggested he "buy some more and freeze them." Others claim to have no cash. "I take checks," counters Brinton. Clearly, this is one smart cookie.

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