Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Scaling Mount Everest

I get invited to at least one direct marketing party a
month, usually two or three. These
parties are quite prevalent in the stay-at-home-mom demographic. I know upwards of ten people who sell
products via home parties. There’s a
nearly endless supply of over-priced products that you can purchase via a
clipboard  while sitting comfortably on your girlfriend’s couch. Here’s how it works:

1) You receive an invitation by mail for the party 2-3 weeks in

2) You receive an email from the hostess that is sent to multiple
recipients reminding you of the party

3) You call your friends to see who is going. You certainly don’t want to miss anything by
being absent

4) You RSVP (most people don’t these days)

5) A couple of days before the party you get another email
reminder with some sort of incentive if you bring a friend

6) No one ever brings a friend

7) You leave your family right at dinnertime to attend a party

8) You grab a plate and have some chips and dip and a drink

9) About 10 minutes in, the hostess asks everyone to gather in
the living room and passes out the catalog and the clipboard

10) You watch a demonstration and are mesmerized by all of the
products. You become acutely aware of
how much you need a paring knife that costs $12 or a jar of moisturizer
that costs $33.

11) You fill out your order form, justifying your overspending
based on your insatiable need to fit in with everyone else. You feel guilty, after all, if you leave the
party without buying anything. What will
the hostess think of you? Will you ever
be invited back?

12) You contemplate having a party yourself. Think about all of the free stuff you’ll
get! You decide against it because it
makes you a little uncomfortable.

13) You spend $50 that could have gone towards food for your
family. You wait two weeks and,
finally, the day arrives that you receive your products.

14) You try out your paring knife. It works REALLY well. How
did you ever get along without it?

15) You try out your moisturizer. Wow. Your face is really soft
and it smells like an orange creamsicle. That was $33 well spent.

16) You vow never to go to another party.

17) You receive an invitation by mail for the party 2-3 weeks in

I have attended many, many home parties and this is how it
always goes. Only once have I actually
had the will power to leave the party without making a purchase. When I did, I felt as if I had scaled Mount
Everest. What an accomplishment!

The home party is an innovative sales method because it
exploits most women’s desperate need to fit in. I try to limit the number of parties I go to because I always
spend more than I should and I never really need the products. I know there is no end in sight for these
parties because they provide a convenient means by which stay-at-home-Moms can
make money without having to adjust their schedules. I do not stand in judgment of the women who choose direct
marketing as an alternative to working part-time. I actually know a few women who have been quite successful. I just think we need to be honest about how
these home parties operate. The whole
process is a little ethically questionable. I hope this will not deter people from attending the party I have
scheduled in November. I'm anticipating a
big crowd so I get lots of free stuff!


  1. Julianne-
    This is a very interesting and perceptive view on home parties. I've never thought it about this way, but you're absolutely right. It makes me feel a little bad that I'm one of the consultants out there peddling goods to make a little extra cheddar. But, as long as the ladies keep coming to soak their feet and throw back a few adult beverages, I'll keep mailing out those invites! And, good luck on your upcoming show. I hope you get TONS of free stuff...hee hee hee!

  2. Angie-
    I actually thought about you and Melinda (she sells Pampered Chef) when I wrote this thinking, "I hope this doesn't upset them." Here's the thing, if we (the attendees of the home parties) would just grow a backbone and either refuse to go or go and not purchase anything based on pressure to fit it, there would be no ethical problem. It's not the sales person or the hostess that is at fault here, it's the group mentality of women. We are far too sensitive to what others think.
    I was discussing this with a friend yesterday and we both agreed that The Body Shop and Pure Romance had some worthwhile products that actually cannot be found in a conventional retail setting. I guess you are in the clear :)

  3. I will never speak to you again! How dare you write this when you know I read it!!!!!
    Just kidding. We all have are opinions about home parties. Some love them some hate them. I sell pampered chef and I still feel the need to buy at least a little something when I go to parties. I started selling Pampered Chef to feed my addiction for their products. I can find somethings at walmart that work the same but they cost pretty much the same and they don't have the warranty with them like Pampered Chef gives you. Please don't ever feel obligated to buy something at a party I am hosting or throwing. We want you to come just so we can hang out with ya! Oh and you can buy pure romance online! I like to go to home parties for a chance to hang out with friends, eat some food, and see some things I might not look at otherwise.
    Start saving some money because I have two Pampered Chef shows coming up and you are invited!!

  4. Melinda-
    Look at you, shamelessly endorsing your products on my blog! You and your brazen self-promotion!
    If you recall, I hosted a PC party for you. And I really do love my stoneware and garlic press. I'm a sucker for cool cooking gadgets.

  5. My name is Melinda and I sell Pampered Chef. If you are interested in buying some top of the line kitchen utensils you can contact me at @#@@$@#%%^!!!!
    Yes I do recall you hosted a show, Thanks again for that! I am totally not offended by this blog.

  6. You guys all know I pretty much despise at-home sales. I think it is an attempt for one person to make money off their friends (or more accurately their friend's friends) by asking them to buy a bunch of crap they don't need or want.
    With the lone exception of Pure Romance, I have never heard a single one of my friends say they actually wanted to go to one of these parties. It's always, "Ugh, I have to go to a tomorrow night that MaryAnn is hosting. I wouldn't go except that I went to one that Jane hosted and so I feel like I have to go to this one...blah, blah, blah." No one EVER wants to go, but they go anyway and are pressured into buying some senseless item.
    (Pure Romance is the exception to the above because they sell a product that is not readily available elsewhere. That is unless you actually WANT to go to the trashy side of town and have your car spotted in the parking lot of some sex shop.)
    Sorry for the mini-blog on this subject, but I'm sure Julianne knew this was coming from me. I'm sure I've offended quite a few folks, however I'm fairly passionate in my loathing of at-home parties. I pretty much wish they would be eradicted from the face of the Earth. (As you can see, I'm not on the fence with this topic.) As stay-at-home moms we should be encouraging each other in ways to be responsible with our finances instead of guilting each other into buying needless items at inflated prices.

  7. Yep, I knew it was coming, Jacquelyn. I’ve been waiting for your comment all day long. For those of you who don’t know Jacquelyn, she doesn’t mince words. As you can see, she doesn’t much care for home parties and has pretty much sworn off ever going to one again, with the exception of Pure Romance. If you are planning on having a party and want your house to go up in flames, go ahead and invite her :)

  8. Disclaimer --The views expressed by Jacquelyn are not necessarily those of her husband and children.--

  9. I have now been chastised by my husband for pushing the envelope with this comment. But hey, what can I say, that's what makes me me. And what's a good blog without a little controversy??
    Melinda and Angie, please don't hate me!! I really am a somewhat nice person most (ok, some) of the time. :)

  10. Jacquely you are luckily you are from ( or lived in my home town) or else I would have to find you and force you to sit through a pampered chef party and eat my yummy food and buy a product!!!!
    Hey Michael do you want to host a party??? ;)

  11. OK, I think Michael is a little scared that there will be a flaming pizza stone in his yard by midnight.
    Nobody hates you Jacquelyn. You are right. Your opinions are what make you, you. You know I love you. I will be posting directions of your house to all of the home sales people I know but I still love you.

  12. Melinda, I was actually at the party that Julianne hosted for you! And yes, the food was yummy and I bought a measuring spoon. Oh, and interestingly enough I also bought some sort of olive oil spraying Michael's request! But the invites and obligations involved with the home parties grow and spread like wildfire, so several months ago I swore off them completely. You should be honored that my last EVER direct sales purchase was from you!!

  13. I am honored to have the pleasure of being your last direct sales party person. I thought you were at her party, but I then maybe not since she does not go to them. I hate going through the effort of having a home party. The cleaning, inviting, who is coming, who is not, buying the food, drinks, and all the other things that go along with it. That is one reason why I did my last party at my house where I had to go to all of the effort. One thing I have learned tonight is that I am in the wrong line of direct sales! ( note to self must contact pure romance consultant and ask about getting started in the business)

  14. Julianne, I got too tickled at the image of a flaming pizza stone in my front yard. Oh, and if you ever choose to blog about scrapbooking you know I have a thing or two to say about that! :) For me, Hell would be being forced to scrapbook for all eternity. Actually if Satan really had it in for me he would make it an eternal Creative Memories at-home party.

  15. Jacquelyn-
    I nearly peed in my pants I was laughing so hard. Thanks. I'll definitely have to write a scrapbooking blog at some point just to get you going again.

  16. That was good about the CM party!!! Hey I HAVE to go to an Aurbonne party Tues night. If I bring a friend, I will get a free gift! Who wants to be my friend?!

  17. LOL! Good luck with that Alyson.