Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Selling jewelry at home parties

- Kathleen Begley Columnist

Everything I know about jewelry I learned at a Tupperware party. Well, not quite a get-together where you buy plastic storage containers. I mean a gathering where you order inexpensiv­e versions of on-trend necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings.

My education started a few years ago when my favorite cousin invited me to her house in East Goshen for a jewelry get-together. Having never accepted an invitation to a Tupperware or Avon party in my life, I was reluctant to go. I saw myself as somehow above such low-end goings-on.

But I love my cousin. So I went.

During a brief presentati­on, two of my cousin’s friends taught me a thing or five about the latest ways to bedeck myself with baubles.

You should wear several necklaces at the same time. You should stack bracelets and rings on all of your fingers. You should put earrings in multiple places.

Was all of this advice designed to sell more stuff? I’m sure.

But, after the party, I noticed a lot of high-fashion models in magazines following the recommenda­tions.

Besides, I had a fabulous time at the party. Nobody was more surprised than I.

Apparently, I’m far from alone. Home parties designed to sell lingerie, perfumes, candles, handbags, wine and — yes — jewelry to women are becoming the rage all over the country.

What? How can this be so in an age when you can order most anything on the Internet without having to get up and out of your comfy fleece pajamas?

Beats me. But Jessica Herrin, founder of a San Francisco based jewelry company called Stella & Dot, has a plausible explanatio­n.

“People want an experience they can’t get in a retail store,” said Herrin at www.usatoday. com. “Women want to gather, they want a group event.”

tion to several hundred online holiday specials that start Saturday.

“We’re trying to offer the best deals when they want them,” said Steve Bratspies, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president and general merchandis­e manager for WalMart’s U.S. division.

Wal-Mart unveiled some of the details of its holiday strategy as it considers matching online prices from competitor­s such as Amazon.com, a move that could help grab more customers but could also hurt profit margins. The Bentonvill­e, Arkansas-based discounter has matched prices of local store competitor­s but has not followed other retailers including Best Buy and Target in matching prices of online rivals. But last month, Wal-Mart started to test the strategy in five markets: Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and northwest Arkansas.

Wal-Mart is trying to rev up sluggish sales in the U.S. as it battles competitio­n from online retailers, dollar stores and drugstores. At the same time, it’s also dealing with a slowly recovering economy that hasn’t benefited its low-income shoppers. As a result, Wal-Mart’s U.S. namesake stores, which account for 60 percent of its total business, haven’t reported growth in a key sales measure in six straight quarters.

Wal-Mart’s move underscore­s how stores are being forced to step up their game for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for about 20 percent of retail industry’s annual sales.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, forecasts a 4.1 percent sales increase to $616.9 billion for November and December from last year.

But online sales, which are included in the forecast, are expected to increase anywhere from 8 percent to 11 percent.

Wal-Mart declined to say whether it was considerin­g changing its price match policy for just the holidays or permanentl­y. Deisha Barnett, a Wal-Mart spokeswoma­n, says many store managers have matched on- line prices for customers on a case-by-case basis.

“Taking care of the customers who shop our stores is what we always aim to do,” she added.

As for its free shipping holiday program, Wal-Mart said that it had store executives pick the 100 items and that products are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas.

Wal-Mart’s current policy is that online shoppers have to spend at least $50.

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