Last night I hosted a shopping party at my house. Not only was this my first time hosting, it was also my first time attending anything like it. I had heard about Tupperware parties before, but I thought they were something hearkening back to the past, to bygone decades. So I was quite surprised when I moved to this small town and discovered that home shopping parties are pretty much the hottest ticket around. Epicure, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Arbonne, Avon, Norwex – you name it, and there’s bound to be a shopping party happening somewhere.
I do find it rather awkward when moms arrive at play group and toss catalogues onto the table for other moms to flip through, checking out the season’s latest tantalizing products. I avoid the catalogues completely, while probably incurring some dislike from the sales ladies in the process, but shopping for random stuff out of a catalogue just doesn’t sit well with me. I also decline all invitations to such parties, knowing that if I need or want something in particular, I’ll just buy it at a store or order it online.
So I was in a strange position a few weeks ago when a friend called me up and asked if I’d host a Norwex party. She’s just starting up her business, and was looking for party opportunities. Why she thought I was a prime candidate for a cleaning products party, who knows. I tried to remember what the toilet looked like when she last visited, but no success. Maybe I represent a younger mom demographic than the usual and therefore a fresh market to tap into. Anyways, I agreed to it for two reasons: #1- I wanted to help her out, and, #2 – I was curious.
My friend arrived early to set up her vast array of demo products. I baked some lemon bars and brownies. The ten female guests arrived and settled in the living room, while my husband immediately escaped with a friend to the gym, followed by the bar. The ladies seemed much more at ease with the process than I was – seasoned experts, I assume. There were several games and a draw and lengthy explanations about how Norwex’s natural cleaning products work. Then my friend washed a very dirty window, covered with several months’ worth of toddler slobber, and scrubbed my kitchen sink, transforming it from grey to sparkling white. Afterwards, guests could place their orders in privacy while the rest of us chatted and had dessert.
Conclusion? It was nice to turn shopping into a social, communal experience in a world where we lack precisely that. Getting online to order something in two minutes flat does not allow me to share tea and catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. On the other hand, I continue to feel uncomfortable in any sort of setting where there are expectations to buy. Even in stores with pushy sales people, I usually walk out without buying anything simply because it irritates me on principle. Surprisingly, the Norwex party seemed to focus less on selling products than encouraging guests to host their own parties, something from which I’m exempt at this point.
I suppose we must make our own adventures, and I’d classify my home shopping experience as one of those. If nothing else, it helped me to view home shopping as less threatening and more entertaining. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to accept more of those invitations in order to pay forward the favour!