Blame it on Tupperware.
The plastic-container giant hit on the idea of having its biggest customers – women in the home – sell products in the 1950s to their friends and neighbors at a social gathering. Intended as a means of empowering women at a time when their career opportunities were few, the company surely couldn’t have realized it was ushering in an entire phenomenon. Since then, from Nassau County, NY to Clallam County, WA, the “product party” has taken on a life of its own. Nowadays, Americans host product parties in their homes for everything from jewelry to kitchenware to candles. One of the newcomers in this enduring sales event is the gold party, at which sellers and buyers meet over cocktails and trade cash for precious metals.
The product party model is basically the same whether the item being sold is gold jewelry or kitchen utensils. A company representative is on hand to take orders and answer questions, but the host is responsible for the guests, the setup, and the social atmosphere. Hosts typically earn premiums – freebies for having the party and rewards when their friends buy. As a marketing tool, the model has a good deal of appeal – it allows for direct sales with virtually no overhead and the potential for repeat business. Party attendees are given the opportunity to combine favorite activities – socializing and shopping – in a low-pressure, relaxed atmosphere.
One of the latest trends in party sales, the gold-buying party offers a switch on the traditional model: Guests are the sellers instead of the consumers. Parties in Nassau County typically include 10 to 15 guests who bring unwanted jewelry to sell; the host’s gift is a percentage of the total sale. These parties often serve as fundraising events, with the proceeds of the gold sales going to a local school or cause.
From its beginnings as a way of affording 1950s homemakers a foot in the door into the working world, the product party has evolved into a powerful retail trend, one that shows no signs of slowing down. It’s easy to see why it remains popular. There’s lasting appeal in a retail opportunity in which friends sell to each other in a comfortable, festive atmosphere without any pressure to buy. From gold buyers to would-be gourmet chefs, the product party continues to be a favorite spot for Nassau County, NY consumers looking to spend – or earn – cash and have a good time doing it.