Once upon a time (in fact, when I was a girl), Tupperware was sold exclusively through home parties. It’s still done that way in many places — the hostess invites her friends and provides the refreshments.  The Tupperware representative brings games and little prizes, samples of all kinds of Tupperware, and of course lots of order forms. The hostess is rewarded with free merchandise, based on the amount sold.

This model is of course now used for selling everything from sexual toys to kitchen tools.  It’s an easy way to entertain, as long as your friends don’t mind the sales pitch.  And according to More magazine, during the past three recessions direct sales have increased on average 4.5%.

There are retailers who used direct marketing in homes to supplement their in-store sales. But I’ve recently spoken with two creative shopkeepers who are using the home party model to bring customers into their stores.

The idea is that a hostess invites her friends to the store (no house cleaning!) on an evening when it is normally closed. She brings some light refreshments, although I’m sure there are stores that offer to provide beverages and snack foods.

 Everyone socializes and shops, with personalized attention from the store’s staff and perhaps even a representative from a featured product line.  At the end of the evening, the hostess is given either a store credit based on what is purchased, or a gift of merchandise.  One could also arrange that instead a donation be made to charity based on the evening’s sales.

 Sounds to me like a simple idea that could drive traffic into your store, and make new friends for your business.  Give it a try, and let me know how it works!


Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder