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Helmut Schmidt, Published March 13 2014

West Fargo man urges Wal-Mart to let Girl Scouts inside to sell their cookies

FARGO – When John Kraft saw kids selling Girl Scout cookies in subzero temperatures outside the 13th Avenue South Wal-Mart, he decided to give the mega-corporation something to chew on.

The West Fargo man quickly snapped a photo of Chanon Anderson and her daughters, Riley, 11, and Isabella, 6. He later got their permission to use it for an ad.

Kraft’s color ad appeared in Monday’s Forum, with a dialogue bubble saying, “Walmart, please let us sell our cookies inside your store. It’s cold outside.”

Kraft said he hopes the ad thaws a few hearts at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.

“Those girls were out there with 20 below wind chill factor. Policies. I understand policies as they may be, but there is such a thing as compassion,” Kraft said. “There is no justification for what they (Wal-Mart) did, really. I mean, frostbite is a definite possibility.”

Chanon Anderson said she and her daughters wore five layers of clothing that day as temps nudged into the double-digits below zero and wind chills bore into the 20 below range.

Anderson leads Scout Troop 30475 in Sabin, Minn. Her girls are two of the five current members.

Each of her daughters alternated playing human icicle, spending 15 minutes hawking Thin Mints and Samoas and 15 minutes warming up in mom’s car.

They did that for six hours.

“I like his mission. When it comes to the Girl Scout cookies, my girls set very high expectations” to sell, Anderson said.

The organization offers nice incentives, and Anderson said her girls want to win Beats headphones and American Girl dolls.

The Anderson girls sold more than 300 boxes of cookies on that cold day.

Anderson said stores such as Cash Wise, J.C. Penney, Gander Mountain and Lowe’s regularly allow Girls Scouts to set up inside the store or at least in a vestibule.

Kraft didn’t contact store officials, saying he expected “a pat answer” that store policy wouldn’t allow solicitors inside the doors.

He just wants the corporation to chill out and not put rules before people’s health.

“I just noticed those girls huddling in the cold … their little faces half-frozen. When you get cold, your cheeks kind of rose up. So, they were definitely cold, and they were trying to stay warm, but what can you do at 15 below?” Kraft asked.

Wal-Mart Manager Cody Schmitz said he could not comment on the situation.

He referred all inquiries to Wal-Mart’s media relations offices.

The Forum’s questions – sent through the Wal-Mart media web site – were not answered, other than an automated reply saying they had been received.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583