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Home Parties Revisited
My post on Weekenders going bankrupt has brought a huge number of comments, mostly because several search engines and a post-Mary Kay consultant site picked it up (that's why there are so many anti-Mary Kay comments, I think!).

Anyway, I thought I'd sum up after reading through all the comments (and thanks so much for commenting!). People seem to agree that Weekenders went bankrupt for three reasons:

1. Home Parties are obsolete
2. It was too expensive to be a consultant
3. In home party businesses, you make money by selling to other consultants, not to customers.

So let's go through those, and you can tell me if I got it right.

Weekenders' bankruptcy is hardly unexpected given that people are just too busy to go to home parties today. It worked twenty-five years ago when kids weren't in soccer, women weren't working, and shift work wasn't as common. Today, it's not as if people are simply free on Tuesday night and want to go over to a friend's house to hear a sales pitch.

And people really don't like those sales pitches, or making them to their friends! That's why I quit. It almost got embarrassing. With the internet, we can buy so much online (and if you like Mary Kay or Arbonne or Weekenders, check out ebay. It's all there but much cheaper!). Why would we go to a party?

That being said, there are two products I really like: Epicure, which makes spice blends and amazing salt and peppers, and Norwex, which makes these incredible cleaning cloths and mops that use no chemicals. I buy that stuff constantly, and especially for gifts. But I've never had a party. I just catalogue shop, and I'm happy to not get any hostess benefits. I just want the products!

So you know the stuff is good. With everything else, I'm not sure the products are that outstanding. Probably a competitor could do just as well, and it would be cheaper.

Now let's look at #2.

With Weekenders, you had to spend a lot every season for new sample clothes. I hear from Mary Kay that you had to put tons of money into samples, too. So being a consultant costs a lot.

And #3?

There is so much pressure to make it to the next level, where you start getting more commissions on your downline. I think that's why people often buy the stuff themselves, just to make it to the next level. If you only have $400 more to go, why not put it in yourself? So you're left with all this product you don't really want and can't sell.

That's why I think most home party businesses do most of their sales to representatives, not customers. And that's not a good business model.

And with most people dropping out within a year, it means you have to replace people constantly. So people are being recruited who don't really have the money to risk, but who believe it's an easy way to get rich. It's not. It changes your relationships, takes you out of the house too much, and makes you buy stuff you don't want.

It's not worth it, in my opinion. If you can represent something like Epicure where there really aren't parties; people just keep ordering from you, then great. Otherwise, people will start avoiding you like the plague.

So that seems to be the summary of the comments. Only one obnoxious commenter came by, and he was dealt with pretty quickly, so thanks for all the discussion! And I hope all the former Weekenders reps and the very mad Mary Kay reps move on to something better for themselves and better for their families!



At 11:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I think your summary is very true for SOME companies but not all companies. We have to take responsibility for the decisions that we make. Mary Kay doesn't make a girl take out $3000 of inventory on a Mary Kay credit card. It's offered (and often PUSHED) on her by her upline. But they can't make her do it either. It's a poor decision that she made.
I think it's sad that this is the norm in Mary Kay and not the exception.
It's also a decision that a rep makes on their own if they order so much product to display. In my company, I won the entire line for a year based on sales. It was a great prize valued at close to $40,000 over the year. By the end, I realized that is was too much product for people to look at. So I've gone from a mentality of "gotta have a lot" to realizing that you don't have to have it all. And that it is up to me to be responsible and make sure that I am not ending up in the red.

This is a business that works for some and doesn't work for others. But to lump every company into your assessment here of two companies is being broadly stereotypical.


At 5:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I think that was one of the reasons I left Mary Kay. Keeping up with everything was too hard. If you had a bad month, to stay a rep you have to buy up the rest of your quota personally. It was very hard to adjust to.


At 9:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I disagree with your stand that home parties are obsolete. I am an advisor with lia sophia jewelry and we are thriving! Our parties are a fun way for friends to get together and shop for something all women We have a high quality product, backed by a lifetime guarantee, at a price that is affordable for anyone. I am never embarrassed to represent my company or to offer the opportunity to other women who are looking for a way to add to the family budget or build a career.


At 9:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Weekender Reps ooking for a new career? Let me offer you balance, friends, family and a career that will make you money and you have all the above.... - give me a call or drop me a note I would be happy to share the perks and rewards I have made working with Stella & Dot, another home party business that is amazing -

Enjoy looking at my site and let me share my experience with a company that has only been in Canada since Oct 07 - 905-599-5373

Looking forward to speaking with you soon.

Yours in Style,



At 11:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

As a now-former Weekenders team leader, I have to disagree with your reasons for our demise. I found women calling me asking me to bring over the clothes, because I never had a sales pitch - I was there to help them get the most out of whatever they wanted to put into their wardrobes. I was waaaaay too busy, so the excess time away from home is true. There are many reasons for the failure, not all of which I am privy to. One request - please stop calling and emailing Weekenders coordinators about your network marketing business! The body of our company isn't even cold yet!


At 3:54 AM , Blogger Julie said…

When you have several tiers of MLM sales people getting a cut out of each sale, you KNOW the items are overpriced. Unless there is a unique or special product, not offered in stores or online, why on earth does anyone go to these parties?

I guess some people view it as a social event, but I don't consider shopping a recreational activity! (I may be in the minority here... LOL!)

I find that most of those parties just breed discontent... as does most advertising. They're not just selling you a product, they're trying to sell you a lifestyle.

I'm a SAHM, as are many of your readers, and I have to watch my budget. Really, will a $15 spatula make my cookies taste any better?

Give me a break!


At 11:22 AM , Blogger pursepartyamber said…

It's very sad to hear that this company went out of business.

I do not agree that people do not go to home parties anymore though. The overall direct sales businesses are thriving right now.

I am with Purse Party Inc. and our parties are going great. I think it all depends on the product line and compensation plans really. Purses and jewelry women love and shopping in home they do too!!

I just wanted to add my comments!



At 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I sold Weekenders for a number of years, and while some months were slower then others, overall I was happy with my business. My business was about evenly split between shows and customers who just dropped by and shopped - they loved that they did not have to have a show with me. I took some time off and my business level dropped - to be expected. But when I worked at it I grew it.

Yes there was a quota - $150 wholesale in orders - all to be placed in one month - but in any 3 month period you only had to meet that once.

While some of my friends did buy, the bulk of my business was thru outside contacts and not my personal friends - I walked the walk, and talked the talk and while I was not one of the companies top achievers I was happy with doing what I did - especially as I also work full time and do volunteer work.

I had lots of repeat business as my customers knew I didn’t pressure them. Yes I did buy a pack of clothing each season, which my hostess got to reserve at a discount. I didn’t bring every piece in every size in - that would have just cost to much - but I did have a representative sampling

I am not going to get into why I left Weekenders - about a year before they declared bankruptcy - and yes I am bitter about it and think it was unfair.
Now I am glad that I had to leave company the year prior as I was not personally hurt by the bankruptcy, and I feel sick for the good coordinators out there.

And, I will say that in my opinion it is not due to the amazing efforts of these coordinators but rather that the bankruptcy is due to numerous poor business decisions by the managing partners.

And yes since this happened, I have had a number of offers from other home businesses - which I am not going to take up - I already sell Epicure - love the product, repeat orders - and I do mainly catalogue sales so I am not buying stock to make dips to take to parties!!!

Home parties are not obsolete, but with today’s busy schedule it is harder that is for sure.

It can be pricey to be a consultant - but if you are in business in a larger way the costs are higher, if you are in business in a smaller way - the costs are much less - my Epicure costs are minimal for the way I personally choose to run my business

I always made the bulk of my money be selling to customers, not by signing up other consultants - yes the bit extra was nice - I had 8 associates in weekenders and making that bit extra on their sales was nice - but it certainly wouldn’t pay my bills.


At 11:41 PM , Blogger NerdMom said…

I loved Pampered chef because people still had those parties or would buy from their friends catalogs. Also I did open houses and bridal showers not just house parties. I also liked that you could just earn all the new products for free and you did make good money by selling not recruiting. Even if you had a down line you still needed to sell a good amount. (PS I no longer sell Pampered Chef and am not trying to get anything out of this statement;).


At 10:34 AM , Blogger Miranda said…

Yes, you summed it up exactly right.

There's another aspect to home selling too: The whole getting stood up thing. People make appts. with you either at your home or theirs and then they never show up to your place or do not answer the door when you drive several miles to their place. They don't call and cancel; they just stand you up. It's not an unusual occurrence at all. This was a serious aggravation and time waster for me when I was in MK.


At 11:09 AM , Anonymous Peaches said…

Sheila - thanks for your postings on this topic. Seems women are sharply divided on this issue. I think one of the best commentaries about this is an article called, "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing". You can read it on this website:


At 11:32 AM , Anonymous Peaches said…

I was a rep for Mary Kay back in the late 80's and then for Longaberger in the early 90's. I don't have much of an issue with Longaberger other than the fact that the baskets are overpriced and like most women, you eventually run out of people who are willing to host parties.

Mary Kay, however is a different animal. They withhold a lot of information from you before you sign up. For instance, when I signed up, there was NO talk of inventory until after I signed the agreement. Once the agreement was signed, there was a HEAVY push to buy inventory because even Mary Kay herself taught that "you can't sell from an empty wagon." So the new consultant ultimately feels like she'll never be successful unless she buys a lot of product. It's very manipulative.

During the inventory talk, they try to get you to buy the biggest package possible by stressing that within a year, you can get 90% of your money back if you decide you want to quit. Yet, when I decided to quit and send my inventory back, the director started singing another tune - tried to scare me into keeping the inventory because if I sent it back, I could never be a consultant again and she just KNEW that I wanted to keep that door open. What she wasn't telling me is that her real reason for wanting me to keep the inventory is so that she wouldn't have to pay back the commission she made off of my order.

There is lots of information on the internet about Mary Kay and other network marketing companies. If anyone is considering being a rep for one of these companies, I highly recommend you do some research before you sign up.


At 3:55 PM , Anonymous Black Nova said…

Great summary, Sheila! Thanks for putting it down so succinctly. Direct Sales, or MLM, are a losing prospect for 90% of folks. If you don't want to be a sales person, just stay away from home party companies.


At 6:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I sold MK at one point and then tried Weekenders because I liked their clothes. But after doing one party when I signed up, I realized for all the hard work and money spent on the clothing samples it wasn't worth it. I worked for 4 hours at one show and after all was said and done only made $25 commission - by the time I figured out my expenses I was actually on the negative side.

Its a wonder that more of the MLM's don't go under sooner.

As for MK, I tried it twice. Once with the full wagon theory and once with just ordering what I need. I don't sell it anymore, but still use the product.


At 2:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

You really are out of touch with what is happening in the direct selling industry. Party plan is the fastest growing segment. The majority of startup directing selling companies use party plan as their method of distribution. Most sales are to consumers, not reps.


At 2:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

You really are out of touch with what is happening in the direct selling industry. Party plan is the fastest growing segment. The majority of startup directing selling companies use party plan as their method of distribution. Most sales are to consumers, not reps.


At 1:17 PM , Blogger Sheila Barnhart said…

Hi - I have read with interest about the home party thing. I was in Mary Kay in the 90's and I DID find it difficult for people to hostess a party.

Although I did not do well at Mary Kay, I always thought it was a well run, classy company and still use the products. I was never so seriously into it that I knew about all the "frontloading", etc. It does open your eyes.

I finally found a networking company that fits my needs. No home parties, ever, and you can do it anywhere there is a computer and phone.....and the best part it's something EVERYONE CAN USE, no primarily women and the product costs less than Walmart! Not too many direct companies can say that. Anyway, I guess I finally found my niche and finally became successful at a direct company....something I never thought I could say.

I guess my advice is...keep looking until you find the right company which suits your needs and family life and you will succeed.

If you are interested in hearing about what I do, please email me at or call me at 800-931-7445.

I wish you all much success in finding the right business for you.

Good Luck and God Bless


At 2:56 AM , Blogger Itchin To Scrap! said…

Might I suggest Jockey, its the same industry and no huge sample lots to house.


At 5:01 PM , Anonymous Tammy Copeland said…

Jockey Person to Person - a well known brand with no inventory and still ground floor! I have been with them for 3 years - and we are growing strong. Ask me how to get started ladies! You already are used to selling great clothes!


At 3:54 PM , Anonymous Michelle de Klerk said…

It is sad when any company goes out of business these days. With Direct sales companies you have to do your research and find the one that works for you. I don't think home parties are obsolete. I do in home wine tasting's and people love them. Maybe because the men can get involved in these as well. I also have a website where customers can go and buy my product without ever going to a tasting or hosting one. As far as being successful in these types of business it is all relative. Do you want more time with your children, money to go on a vacation, or be able to quit your corporate job? You just have to define your goal and make sure you are putting in the effort that will get you those results. You also have to find a company that you can believe in the product and I found mine...WINE.

Michelle de Klerk


At 3:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I used to think that about every company I had worked for until I found Fifth Avenue Collection. They are all about the customer!! Anyway, I was with 2 companies that went out in 2008 so I was a little reluctant to jump back in, but keep your head up & remember our real job is to love our children, husbands, & God!!!

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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