Tupperware parties and Avon ladies are back in U.S.

Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:30pm EDT
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By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Tupperware party is back and Avon is calling again, ushered in by the U.S. recession.

In the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, women are selling everything from eyeliner to food containers to make extra cash -- boosting profits at companies such as Avon and Tupperware.

The flexibility of such work means that women, even with existing jobs and kids to care for, are taking on direct sales work in increasing numbers.

Food container-maker Tupperware, whose latest quarterly profit beat expectations, said its sales force rose 4 percent this quarter year on year.

Tupperware's popularity exploded in the 1950s as women of the post-war generation sought empowerment and independence through selling, and the recession has rekindled the spirit of the Tupperware party for a new generation.

Tupperware sales rep Judy Montalbano, while hosting a recent Tupperware party in the leafy New York City borough of Queens said that she took the job in May because it was flexible and paid good money.

She hosts about two Tupperware parties each week, but also sports her Tupperware badge while out shopping in case a selling opportunity arises.

"It does help pay the household bills and the extras," said Montalbano. "My husband is looking to retire next year. Everyone is looking to make extra money with the state of the economy."   Continued...

<p>Avon products are seen at a Granmeen America open house at St. John's University in New York April 18, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>