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Buying Girl Scout cookies? You might get to charge it

Imani Ameen 13 is Girl Scout who is hoping boost her cookie sales from last year's 750 boxes 1000 boxes

Imani Ameen, 13, is a Girl Scout who is hoping to boost her cookie sales from last year's 750 boxes to 1,000 boxes in part by accepting credit cards, using social media and an online Cookie Club to boost her sales. Wednesday January 30, 2013. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 6, 2013 6:26AM



Imani Ameen, a 13-year-old Girl Scout from the Avalon Park neighborhood, aims to sell one-third more cookies this selling season now that Chicago area Girl Scouts have the option of accepting credit cards.

Her goal is to sell 1,000 boxes and collect $4,000 versus last year’s 750 boxes.

“With the new option, people will be able to buy more cookies,” said Ameen, an eighth-grader at Lindblom Math and Science Academy who belongs to Troop 21571 through Trinity United Church of Christ.

Local troops that choose to use the credit-card option will start doing so on Saturday, the first day of Girl Scout cookie deliveries.

Troops buy each credit-card reader for $20 and absorb the 2.1 percent fee charged with each transaction. The Girl Scouts download a free app to use the readers, which plug in to tablets and smartphones like a headset jack.

Ameen sells the Girl Scouts’ eight cookie varieties in person and by leveraging Facebook, Twitter, the Scouts’ “cookie locator” GPS-tracking app and the Scouts’ “Cookie Club,” a secure website where girls send e-cards seeking customers’ promises to buy cookies.

The credit-card option just happens to coincide with new fees that retailers can charge customers who use credit cards — the result of a multi-billion dollar legal settlement between merchants and credit-card issuers such as Visa and MasterCard.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana will be among a handful of troops nationwide using the credit-card readers. The local council, with 84,000 members and 24,000 volunteers covering 10 counties, is the largest in the world.

Maria Wynne, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, said the credit-card payment option will teach Girl Scouts about costs and advancements associated with managing their cookie-selling businesses, and it’s a great convenience to customers.

“They are learning more about the many forms that money takes, and they learn how electronic transactions work and how customers may be more inclined to buy with a new option,” Wynne said.



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