Jana Rowe, of Craig, began selling Scentsy wickless products March 11 as a way to supplement her income. She is one of thousands of Americans who have entered the direct sales force in recent months in response to the recession.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Jana Rowe, of Craig, began selling Scentsy wickless products March 11 as a way to supplement her income. She is one of thousands of Americans who have entered the direct sales force in recent months in response to the recession.

Direct sales force up in Craig, nation

With her job security a bit shaky, Jana Rowe, of Craig, decided to find a way to earn a little money on the side.

With $100 down and an air of excitement, Rowe became an independent consultant for Scentsy wickless products March 11 and already is nearing $1,000 in wickless candle, wax warmer and air freshener sales.

She's hosted three parties thus far and has two others yet to close out. And with a sizable commission - it varies depending on the level of sales - Rowe said she's amazed at how fast the business has taken off.

"I'm hoping these are really good parties," Rowe said. "I'm really excited."

Rowe is one of thousands of Americans turning to direct sales for extra income in the face of the recession.

Amy Robinson, vice president of communications and media relations for the Direct Selling Association, said the organization's data reveals a trend toward interest in direct sales in times of economic downturns.

"It's a very flexible way to earn some extra money," Robinson said.

Plus there are perks - free products and hefty discounts - to selling products and hosting parties to attract other buyers.

That's why Brenda Lyons, of Craig, began selling Lia Sophia jewelry more than four years ago.

"They have an awesome hostess program, and I wanted a lot of free jewelry," Lyons said. "I still have a lot of fun with it."

Lyons admits that sales have been a bit slower lately, due at least in part to her decision to cut back on the number of parties she throws. But Wilma Willems, of Craig, who's sold Avon products for 23 years, said she's also noticed a decline in sales.

"Like the economy, we're a little bit lower than we were, but not a great lot," Willems said, noting she's seen an increase in the local direct sales force. "I think that's because things are tight."

Robinson contends that direct sales purchases remain strong even in tough financial times.

"In a recession, people don't stop spending; they just look more closely at what they're spending and what they're spending on," Robinson said.

She describes the "lipstick factor," or the tendency of customers to purchase small luxuries, such as candles, jewelry or makeup as a relatively inexpensive way to have a small indulgence in the face of a sour economy.

Lyons said she'll continue to sell jewelry as a fun activity on top of her full-time job. And she admits she has an ideal industry to be in, one which Robinson noted is doing well.

With Lia Sophia's specials and lifetime guarantee on its products, "it kind of just sells itself," Lyons said.

Willems said putting in time and effort into the business is what leads to the big commissions.

"The more you sell, the more you make," Willems said. "And like anything else, you have to work at it."

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