Teen looks to inspire fellow Scouts with salesmanship

Caramel corn. Kettle corn. Buffalo cheddar cheese corn. Chocolatey caramel crunch. If it’s got a kernel, Mathew Craig, 14, can sell it.

Caramel corn. Kettle corn. Buffalo cheddar cheese corn. Chocolatey caramel crunch. If it’s got a kernel, Mathew Craig, 14, can sell it.

The Life-rank Boy Scout with Sequim Troop 1498 has been the top popcorn seller in the Chief Seattle Council three years in a row now. On top of that, he’s been one of the top 10 Scouts selling in the nation those three years, too.

Craig said people’s reactions are either “Wow” or “That’s incredible!” when they hear the news.

“It is a lot of time,” he says. “If anyone puts their mind to it, they could do it.”

For Sequim Cub and Boy Scouts, every bag of popcorn they sell, they’ll receive 35 percent of the sale while another 35 percent of the total sale goes to the local Scout council to help pay for camps and services.

Craig, as a Bear rank Cub Scout, sold just over $1,000 worth his first year. He set a goal to double it from then on going to about $2,000 the next year and then $4,000 the following year.

That year, Craig said he just missed out on a trip to Disneyland for his family by selling a little over $50 so he set the goal to be the top seller from then on. So his next goal was $8,500 but instead he sold about $11,000 of popcorn.

That was his first year on top in the council before he upped his sales to $12,000 two years ago and $14,600 last year.

Craig said he knew last year would be his last time selling as intently so he wanted to finish big.

This year, as a freshman at Sequim High School, Craig wanted to focus on academics and motivate fellow Scouts to sell more rather than repeat his sales’ record.

“I figured out of the benefits of selling popcorn and how it helps my Scouting,” he said in his sales pitch. “You’re not just buying popcorn, you’re paying for Scouting.”

All trips paid for

Using his popcorn sales, Craig has paid for all of his Scouting gear and events including a cross-country flight two years ago to the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia for him and his dad.

Craig can only use his funds for Scouting-related ventures, but he’s told there’s enough in it that he could buy any camping gear he wanted from R.E.I. “It’s nice being able to pay for all your stuff and extras,” he said. “It’s totally worth it (the effort).”

His dad, Peter Craig, and Scoutmaster for Troop 1498, said the popcorn experience has been great for his son and family. “It’s paid for every uniform so when he grows in size it’s great for Mom and Dad, too,” he said.

Door-to-door Scouting

While Peter tags along on sales ventures in his car or alongside his son on bicycle, Mathew does the salesmanship himself.

“Physically, it’s kind of challenging,” Mathew said. “Going door-to-door and knocking and ringing door bells can be tiring.”

Most of his sales come from within Sequim with a few sales out of the area to family and friends and his best sales come from going door-to-door and talking to businesses, Peter said.

His salesmanship has impressed quite a few people.

“Over the years I have gotten quite a few job offers,” Mathew said. “Some of them have had been jokes. Some have been serious.”

His hope now is to see other Scouts embrace what he’s done. He’s hopeful another Scout, Kaleb Needoba, 11, of Troop 90, who is new to Sequim, can follow in his footsteps. Needoba was a top popcorn seller in Florida before moving here.

Mathew also is beginning to brainstorm for his Eagle Scout badge service projects but nothing is set yet. He has to finish three required merit badges first — Family Life, Personal Management and Personal Fitness.

Cub and Boy Scouts in the Mount Olympus District, including Troop 90 and 1498 and Cub Scout Pack 4490, are selling Trail’s End Popcorn through Oct. 19.

For more information on Scouting and local popcorn sales, e-mail Peter Craig at 1498BSA@olypen.com.

Read more about popcorn and Scouting at www.trails-end.com.