On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, February 20, 2006

So I'm Not A Pampered Chef

I discovered Jessie Raymond's website this weekend and read one of her amusing columns for the Addison Independent. It reminded me of why I failed as a Pampered Chef Consultant a few years back. Contrary to some people's mistaken impressions it is not because I sliced a chunk of my thumb off on the slicer/grater (fortunately not at a party!). There were other reasons.

It didn't make sense really, I have a promoter personality according to those personality tests. I've talked people into homeschooling, I've talked people into baby led weaning, I've talked people into raising sheep. Why couldn't I talk people into buying Pampered Chef? It's a money thing.

I honestly couldn't talk people into buying stuff I knew they didn't really need. Some of the products were nice. Some of them I continue to use. Frankly some of them were plastic junk and I could buy cheaper versions at the grocery store that lasted just as long. As a matter of fact I did, and they have.

I got talked into trying Pampered Chef by one of the mom's in my homeschool group. I gave it the old college try. I got into it at the point that our county was beginning to get Pampered Out, and like Jessie I have the wrong kind of friends. My friend Ellen had these parties where they served wine and the credit cards got whipped out. I had parties where they served generic soda and people ordered lemon zesters. I stayed in long enough to earn my demonstrator kit, then I quit.

The thing that ultimately made me quit was the thing that was supposed to pump you up. I went to one of the consultants' meetings. The lady who was in charge of the whole area got up and showed us the wonderful pin she'd won and the charms we could win. She talked about trips to national conferences. Everyone else was oohing and aahing and vowing to sell more next month. I was vowing to never do another party. These people were like the sorority girls in college or the cheerleaders in high school. They frankly were not my type of people - sorry sorority girls and cheerleaders, sorry Pampered Chef and Tupperware consultants. There it is, I am not one of you. I didn't care about the pins, I didn't want to go to national sales conferences.

Now I have nothing against jewelry, but I'be never even once worn the one charm I actually earned in Pampered Chef. I love conferences, if they are the right type. I'd love to go to a Gilbert Conference, I drool over conferences at Oxford, I enjoy Defending the Faith when I actually get to go. I even enjoy conference tapes when I can't go. A conference that's devoted to telling me how to sell something to people who don't want it, however, is not my idea of a fun event. Frankly a root canal sounds like more fun.

I actually think I would be good at sales if I truly believed in the product and the people were coming to me because they were interested in buying the product. When I went to my first Pampered Chef party I was actually interested in some of the stuff. I didn't mind spending $50 because thre were things I wanted (like the instant read thermometer and the pizza stone) that I hadn't seen in stores around here. It wasn't until I actually got into it that I realized the degree to which you were trying to guilt people into buying something. I just wasn't good at that.

Now when I get invited to a Pampered Chef party I go, if I can't get out of it. I've even hosted one myself, as a favor to a friend. I told the consultant not to count on a big party, and it wasn't. I don't even make a good Pampered Chef hostess because I'm not good at twisting people's arms and I'm lousy at getting outside orders. I, like Jessie, have the wrong kind of friends. My friends look at the plastic clips and know they can get them cheaper at Hannaford. My friends may buy a pizza stone, but they don't feel like they need a whole cupboard of stoneware. Most importantly, my friends don't hold parties of their own, so they are really bad news for the consultant who can't keep the chain going.

So there's my confession. I'm not a Pampered Chef. I won't ever make a Tupperware Lady, and the even the idea of being a Creative Memories consultant makes me shudder. All the hoopla, at all those root you on meetings, just leave me cold. It's like being at a Pentecostal prayer meeting without the theological content. Except there is in a sense some religious content there. It's the religion of materialism, the religion of the bottom line. Ah, there's the problem, when it comes to that religion I'm a heretic, so I'm as out of place there as an atheist would be at a Pentecostal prayer service, or an old line Pentecostal would be at Mass.

The great God Mammon is what they worship. It's weird because many of the consultants I knew were evangelical Christians and they seemed to find no disconnect. Maybe that's the inheritance of Puritanism, I'm not sure. I just know that I couldn't worship in that pew and I wasn't good at doing that job.

Some day I'll have a party with my friends where no one has to buy anything and I can serve good food without worrying about using biscuits from a can. I like parties, I like my friends, I just don't want to have to try to sell my friends things at parties. That's why I'm not a Pampered Chef.


At 9:51 AM, Blogger The Bookworm said...

Liz, I can so identify with this! I've never signed up for any of these things - not even hosted a party - because I just couldn't bring myself to try to sell people things I wouldn't buy myself.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Liz said...

I guess that part of the difficulty for me is that I will buy some of the stuff. I will buy stuff that isn't available at local stores (like pizza stones, or mini spatulas, or even the really good rubber scrappers that Pampered Chef has). I don't mind ordering some of the stuff if my friend hosts a party (at least if there's something I actually need). What I didn't like was the fact that a lot of the stuff was available locally for less, that a lot of the stuff wasn't high quality, and that the whole thing runs like a pyramid scheme. You make more as a consultant if you can sign other people up as consultants, you are dependent on your hostesses for more bookings and the whole thing operates as either a guilting your customers or rah, rahing your underlings. I'm actually pleased to see that Tupperware is now going to make their stuff available in stores. If the product is good it ought to be able to compete in the marketplace, it shouldn't need to use people's friends.

The only people who were really making much money were the people who had a lot of people working under them. So like corporate America the higher you were on the ladder (or pyramid!) the more money you made for less effort.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

I'm with you both. I've always shied away from those parties, and when I've gone, I've usually warned the hostess, "I will probably not buy anything!"

I do have one of their pizza stones (which I always forget to use) and a chopper (which I never use ... all I can think is, "Then I have to clean it....") and a microwave/hamburger cooker, which I do use, but am thinking of giving up because I don't like the idea of cooking in plastic.

Oh, well. Target usually has what I need. :-)


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