In what has become a $30 billion industry, it’s no longer just the Avon lady knocking.

Instead, direct selling has expanded to a variety of items and services sold by millions of people.

Be they “advisers,” “consultants” or “demonstrators,” those peddling products do so in a business that has grown by nearly 39 percent in the past decade.

And instead of going door-to-door, they’re now selling living room-to-living room.

Product demonstrations now take place at parties and workshops in which potential customers become captive audiences as they learn about – and try – everything from kitchen and health items to lines of jewelry and homemade crafts.

“People love the opportunity to get together with friends and shop,” said Amy Robinson, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based Direct Selling Association.

“It really gives people an opportunity to shop for something they love in a relaxed atmosphere, an excuse to get together with friends and family,” she said. “So many people have full day planners. The first things to go are social engagements.”

Those gatherings can be rather fruitful. Between 1997 and 2006, direct sales in the United States grew from approximately $22.21 billion to an estimated $32.18 billion, according to figures compiled by the Direct Selling Association. Sales did drop slightly last year to about $30.8 billion, Robinson said.

And for the people doing the selling, the money definitely doesn’t hurt.

The median income is about $2,400 a year, Robinson said, but for many the earnings are higher.

Logo from Direct Selling Association.