Laid Off? Direct Sales Is Calling.

The State:

When De Ann Mensch was laid off last month for the second time in a little over a year, she did not polish her resume.

Instead, the ex-bank teller (and ex-mortgage loan closer) burnished her sterling silver jewelry and her sales pitch. Now the soft-spoken Mensch, 44, of Pennsburg, Pa., spends several hours a week at house parties, where she hawks the earrings, necklaces and other jewelry she loves to wear, earning about $250 a pop in commissions.

“I need the income,” said the mother of two, who has a son in college. “I don’t have to worry about being fired or laid off; I don’t have to worry about the company being downsized.”

In a weak economy, that promise is solid gold. As layoffs mount and the nation’s unemployment rate hovers at 8.1 percent, many of those down on their luck have joined jewelry company Silpada, cosmetics maker Avon or any number of other direct-sales companies to fill the income void.

The door-to-door pitch, or more often the house party, that peddles jewelry, cosmetics, pet items, health products and such — known as direct sales — has consistently weathered economic storms, experts say.

“Whatever it is that makes someone feel better is a good candidate for that little splurge, and many direct-selling companies have products in that range,” said Amy M. Robinson, spokeswoman for the Direct Selling Association.

Screenshot from Silpada

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