DEARBORN, Mich. — Jennifer Sharpe knows how to sell Girl Scout cookies. She sold them to friends. She sold them to strangers. She even convinced her orthodontist to buy the popular sweet treats.

And now, with 17,323 boxes sold under her name, the 15-year-old Dearborn girl is believed to have sold more cookies in a single season than anyone in the United States ever, according to Girl Scout officials.

And Wednesday, the Girl Scouts of Metro Detroit is honoring Jennifer for her record-breaking sales at a ceremony in Livonia, Mich.

“Make a goal, and don’t give up on it. Keep working for it, and one of these days, you’ll hit it,” she advised aspiring sellers.

“When I was in third grade, the top seller was 10,176. ... I turned to my mother and said, ‘That’s going to be me one day,’ and it took me seven years,” she said.

Jennifer, a fan of the Thin Mints, used a retail-inspired strategy. She set up shop in the parking lot of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn. She staffed that booth 3-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, she sold cookies outside a local auto parts store from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“When I was young, I knocked on doors,” said Jennifer, in her 10th year of scouting. “Now that I’m older, I get too many rejections face to face. People don’t want to buy from a 15-year-old. They want to buy from a cute little Brownie.”

Also playing in Jennifer’s favor was the extra week the local council added to the selling season. Area troop members hawked their tasty wares from December until March 16, instead of March 9. The extra time was added because the council hadn’t met its sales goal, according to Girl Scouts of Metro Detroit’s director of product sales, Clare Coughlin.

“I know how to get people to buy more,” said Jennifer, a sophomore at Edsel Ford High School . “If they buy two boxes and they hand me a 10, I’d be like, ‘For 50 cents more, you can get three,’ because three boxes are $10.50.”

The money Jennifer and her friends from Troop 813 raised will go toward a trip to Europe.

But some say the aspiring marketing executive’s victory is far from sweet. Some have accused her of cheating because her mother, Pam, sold cookies when Jennifer was at school. But Coughlin said there are no rules against that.

“Jennifer was the one behind this. She’s the one who set the goal,” Coughlin said. “Parents take order cards to work. To us, it’s the same thing. It’s a different variant of the same thing — adults helping a girl meet her goal. We expect a girl to be involved in every way, pulling the order, sharing what they’re going to do with the proceeds.”

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