Friday, September 7, 2012

Stop the Insanity: Stuff Pushing Parties

1960s Tupperware Party, Wikipedia

It starts out innocently enough. A friend invites you over for a party. There will be snacks, lots of friends and family and, oh yeah, the opportunity to try some really great products!

There's always a catch.

Maybe I've just been sheltered, but it feels like the stuff pushing party circuit is picking up steam again. First it was Tupperware starting in the '50s, today it's Pampered Chef, Longaberger, Thirty-One, IT Works body wraps (I shit you not, that's a real thing)...the list goes on. Different brands that all rely on the same model: guilt your friends and family to come over and buy crap, so the hostess can get some free crap or a little extra cash. It all smacks of socially-acceptable peer-pressure drug-dealing parties, only the drug of choice is overpriced crap you don't need.

The whole scheme is dripping with guilt. Some of my friends feel they must absolutely accept any invitation they get, unless they have a conflict. And if you go, well, then everyone knows you must buy something, and it's not likely to be cheap. Out of guilt, I've browsed the stuff catalogs and have yet to see one things I would want to buy. In the Pampered Chef catalog and was unable to find a single kitchen gadget for less than $15, which is kind of pricey in my book for a vegetable peeler. Or take Thirty One, where you can get a monogrammed plastic lunch bag for double to triple the price you would pay at your local Target. Or maybe you need a not-so-stylish purse for $140. I'm gonna repeat that: ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS. I felt guilty last week when I paid $20 for a purse I really liked after weeks of fruitless purse hunting trips at the thrift store. But hey, if you wanna be organized and trendy, you're going to have to shell out the cash.

We're supposedly in an economic downturn, with budgets slashed to the core, and we feel it's perfect okay to ask our friends and family to buy extremely overpriced (mostly useless) crap so we can make a few bucks? Sometimes I just want to ask if I can give the host $20, keep my Saturday afternoon and we call it even.

I'd love to know how much money people really make in these ventures. I've never hosted any of these parties, so maybe it's a lot more than I think. But even so, aren't there better ways to make extra money than  direct-selling stuff to your friends and family? Do freelance, work overtime, slash some luxury items from your budget, sell some clutter, cut cable, anything, anything seems preferably to joining the home-party circuit.

Maybe it's just me, because I hear a lot of people waxing ecstatic about how awesome these products are. Some people gladly line up to fork over their hard-earned cash for a $20 flat iron cover. Don't get me wrong, if you absolutely love any of these brands and are dying for the latest and greatest, then by all means, shop til you drop. But I personally wish people would re-think the "guilt-the-people-you-love" business model.

Does the entire concept of stuff-pushing parties bother anyone else?


  1. YES!!.! I think these parties are ridiculous

  2. Um...hell YES! Thankfully, I don't really get invited to any. If anything, the people I know make and sell their own stuff (which is still overpriced and sort of ridiculous, like fancy pacifier clips). I think in general, I'd wish we'd stop viewing our friends and family as marketing tools and consumers, and let them decide for themselves if they want to hawk your goods.

  3. Yes, but sometimes I take the opportunity to do my Christmas shopping at these things. I very rarely ever buy anything for myself. I think I have pretty specific and quirky tastes in jewellery to ever find anything I like at a Cookie Lee party. Also I am kind of curmudgeonly and anti-social at times, so parties like this allow me the opportunity to fulfill some social obligations to keep up friendships without too much trouble and a defined end point. Make it work for you! If i won't or can't make a purchase at the party then I would just decline the invitation.

  4. UG - like taking obnoxious kids fundraising sales into the adult world. I've been invited to a few of these, but never attended. I'm just honest and say that I'm too cheap to buy any of that sort of thing.

  5. oh definitely. I think it goes even beyond parties to things like Avon/Mark (which gets girls started on the "twist your friends' arms" method of marketing while in HIGH SCHOOL) or Cutco, etc. But at the same time, my Grandmother sold Avon and so did a friend of mine in high school. It helped both of them make ends meet. They needed those jobs.

    But I've been a victim of the arm-twisting "let me show you my product!" presentations myself. A lady at work told me she Cookie Lee jewelry. First, who names their kid Cookie? and second, it's not jewelry, it's made in China crap accessories. Jewelry is vaguely worth investing in. Accessories are not.

    And yet, she wanted to have lunch. I said yes. And at lunch she tried to sell me $40 of accessories even though she could get fired for trying to make money at another job on company time!! Is the $10 she probably made worth possibly losing her job?

    But I felt bad because I knew I made a lot more money than she did. So I bought the accessories. So stupid.

  6. I ignore the invitations. Never attend the parties. Everything is overpriced. As for kids fundraisers for schools, etc. I have just made a cash donation rather than buy stuff I dont want or need.

  7. I hate those parties. When I was a young mother, I got invited to them frequently. Now I don't, thankfully, but even if I did, I've learned to just decline the invitation.

    There's no room in our budget for "over-priced crap", as you say, and I don't want to bring any more "stuff" into our house anyway.

  8. Thanks for the comments. In the end I decline individual invites and ignore the group invites on Facebook, but it still surprises me that no one thinks anything of asking.

  9. It kind of reminds me of school fundraisers, except you don't even get to feel good knowing that you've supported underfunded school programs. It's ridiculous. Good thing I'm not sociable and only ever see a handful of friends in person! I've been invited to a handful through some local non-profit orgs, but I never feel bad about declining and (if I'm feeling wealthy) making a donation instead.

  10. ugh
    we always have a "conflict"

  11. If the topic shows up, I always show very little interest and usually the person takes the hint. My circle of friend/acquientances generally aren't into this sort of stuff but when I am asked, i just do my nicest 'thanks but no thanks' smile and say no thanks. I'm good at saying no.

  12. Total pet peeve of mine too!
    I sold Avon, very briefly, and firmly believe that "home party" marketing is designed to take advantage of our desire to be sociable and make a living.
    Sadly, it's actually anti-social to ask your friends and family for sales and there is no "living" to be made. Although, perhaps I'm just not anti-social enough to succeed in that racket.

  13. It bothers Miss Manners. She has declared the entire concept to be rude: "To invite one's friends to a party and then try to sell them things is unconscionable. It violates all the rules of hospitality." That's why she says these "parties" should be treated like any other shopping trip. If someone invites you to go shopping, it's perfectly fine to say thanks but no thanks if there's nothing you need to buy (though it's nice to suggest some other kind of get-together instead, to make it clear that it's the event you're not into, rather than the friendship) and if you do go, there's no obligation to buy anything.

  14. It's not just you!! These parties are cray-cray. In fact, you just gave me the best Halloween costume idea: A Mary Kay representative!!!!

    Mary Kay is the worst of 'em all, with their "empowering women" bull. They think they're doing the world of stay-at-home-moms a service by forcing them to buy cases upon cases of cosmetics that they have to try to pawn off on their friends and family, and ultimately putting them in debt and causing their friends and family to avoid them....UGH! Not a fan.

  15. Agree with all of the comments! Have a real party or get-together. My friends & I have a book club, we discuss the book...somewhat, drink lots of wine, eat snacks & have a riot without asking eachother to buy crap.

  16. This reminds me of when I was invited to some sort of Rogue Tupperware knock off party. I had to sit on the floor and when all was said and done, I refused to by anything. The lady COMPLETELY ignored me the rest of the night. I just left and ignored her next invite. :)


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