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Retro Time Machine – Home Shopping Parties

Day 228

Before Amazon, we gathered in other people’s home for ‘parties’ where you could be lured into buying a product that you may or may not need or want.

The hostess was often rewarded with points toward a purchase, or with a free gift from the catalogue — both contingent on the sales from the party. I was never a good hostess. I was not crazy about trying to sell anything, and getting your close friends to attend and buy was always a slippery slope. At the end of the party, the hook was to try and get one of your friends to host a party of their own. Gotta get those sales numbers up!

All the parties I ever attended were all women which most likely equaled a night off from whatever was in their normal routine. Of course your friends were always encouraged to invite another friend — the more the merrier. I was never fond of having people I did not know well milling around my house.

The only party I ever really hosted was a Tupperware party. This was in 2000 when Tupperware was introducing their microwave blue and white steamer (which I recently donated to a thrift store). The Tupperware Lady demo’d the steamer in my microwave. I am not sure it was a big hit. Unfortunately, the sales tactics at this party were high pressure and a friend of a friend became very vocal about refusing to purchase anything. I was so glad when it was over. Eventually the products came in and were left to me to sort and deliver to the attendees.

I feel about hosting home parties the same as I do about yard sales — Never Again. I did go as a guest to quite a few though.

Sarah Coventry – Sarah Coventry sold jewelry through catalogue sales and home parties. They had a broad range of jewelry to choose from, but most of what I had was limited by my budget, so they were small. I had a stick pin with a heart on it, a couple of scarf clips, a pendant watch, and a slider necklace. Remember those? There is a collectors book with photos of all their jewelry you can purchase if you are a collector.

PartyLite Candles – I only went to a couple of these parties, but I loved them. I bought a set of three goblet-shaped tea light holders, a glass centerpiece (which I never used) and a beautiful spring loaded candlestick holder. Their candles burned clean and I used those candlesticks for years. Now I only use LED candles.

Avon – I never sold Avon, but I went to a number of parties. I think Avon was originally door-to-door, but I went to several parties throughout the years. My sister was a huge collector. She had a lot of perfume bottles and some red Cape Cod glass and some white hobnail glass. I was more interested in their jewelry. I had several rings and a little cuckoo clock pin. I never cared for their cosmetics.

Mary Kay – Mary Kay was a big deal where I lived around the mid 70’s. Again, not a salesman at all, but I went to a number of parties. There were often tables lined with mirrors for each attendee to use. You could experiment with their makeup which I remember liking at the time. I also remember a few parties where the sales person was upset because the wine poured a little too freely. My friend got the highly-prized pink Cadillac for a month because she sold so much!

Bra Fitting Parties – These were a hoot, designed to show every woman she was wearing the wrong sized bra. I remember the bras being very industrial looking and very pricey.

Lingerie Parties – This was a big thing in the early 80’s. Always held in someone’s home, racks of lingerie you could try on in the privacy of your friend’s home. I only went to one and found the idea of trying on lingerie that other people also tried on a little disturbing.

There were others…

The three I never got interested in were Longaberger Baskets, Amway, and Princess House. My older sister loved Princess House. She had many pieces of their glassware and home decor, but nothing that ever intrigued me. The same with the baskets. They were so expensive, I just do not know how people could justify the expense. I was ever suspicious of the Amway pyramid scheme so I never got sucked into that one.

Today some home parties still exist, but I am nor sure it is as prevalent as it once was. My granddaughter had a Jamberry birthday party where all the attendees got their nails done free. Not your normal party because her parents paid for all the kids and nothing was sold. (Jamberry sells vinyl heat-activated nail wraps to decorate your nails.)

That’s the end of your time-travel journey today. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Before you go, have you had home parties or been a sales consultant? Anything recent?