How to Use Wal-Mart Strategies to Boost your Popcorn Sales

Hub and SpokeMany of you know of the different ways to sell popcorn including:

  1. Take Order – Using the Order Form to go door-to-door
  2. Show and Sell – Having product on hand to sell in front of a location like a grocery store
  3. Show and Deliver – Going door-to-door with product on hand
  4. Online Sales – sending emails to friends and relatives to sell online

Your Council may not offer all of these methods. However, I am going to present a hybrid version called the Hub and Spoke method that Troop 214 in Anchorage, Alaska used to sell over $90,000 in popcorn.

Wal-Mart currently has 158 Distribution Centers (DC) throughout the United States. These are also known as hubs. Each distribution center is more than 1 million square feet in size, and uses more than 5 miles of conveyor belts to keep products moving to our stores 24 hours a day. The DC holds large quantities of product and each DC services between 90 and 100 stores near the DC in a 200-mile radius like spokes on a wheel.

Now, I am not suggesting you sell popcorn over 200 miles away. However, the concept to selling large quantities of product is the same.

First, establish a hub where the majority of your product is. Troop 214 used five different grocery stores as their ‘hubs’. Each location had their complete variety of products. They had two Scouts man the Show and Sell location. Next, they had 5-pair of Scouts sell Door-to-Door in the neighborhood around the grocery store. When the Scouts went to the door, they asked the customer if they would like the product delivered that day. They would take the money from the customer. When the Scouts finished the street, they would record which houses they contacted on the map provided to them and the Scouts called their ‘hub’ to tell the hub what they needed. A parent would deliver the product from the hub to where the Scouts were and they would deliver the product to the customer. This Troop did this method for several reasons:

  1. Increased the participation of Scouts involved – With this method, 30 Scouts were actively selling during the day. Usually, Scouts spent a couple of hours at the store and a couple in the field.
  2. Increased parent participation – Because this method takes some coordination, parents needed to get involved in the sale. By helping, parents saw the value of doing the sale and how it affected the development of the youth.
  3. Created buzz around the sale – By getting a lot of Scouts involved the first day of the sale, they started their sale out strong and it encouraged the Scouts to go out during the week and sell more.
  4. Kept the product in one location until delivery – Using this method helped reduce the amount of cases that were opened at one time. Their Council had a return policy that only allowed the return of full-unopened cases.

Using this method at average sales of $100/hours, Troop 214 sold nearly $48,000 their opening weekend. The following weekend, Scouts went to houses where no one was home the previous weekend. This ‘hub and spoke’ method proved to be the most efficient way to execute their plan and send the Troop to Hawaii for Camp.


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