Quantcast

Multilevel Money

Avon offers it, and the unemployed want it

We may have been last to join the party, but now that the recession has finally hit Charlotte (hello, 12 percent unemployment), it's no surprise people are getting creative to pay the bills. From Amway to Avon and Pure Romance to The Pampered Chef, the unemployed are signing up for multilevel marketing to make money … fast.

After twenty years in the financial industry at Countrywide and AIG, fifty-nine-year-old Levester Flowers never imagined he'd be working for cosmetics giant Avon after being laid off last year. "I feel like I just discovered the biggest secret out there," says Flowers, who learned about the company at a job fair before joining in February. He says he's anticipating taking home a thousand dollars a month within the next sixty days at what he calls a part-time gig.

Avon is one of the country's most well-known multilevel marketing (MLM) companies, where your income depends not only on what you sell, but also on the amount brought in by the people you recruit to work under you. The move to multilevel marketing has been so popular that Avon and The Pampered Chef, which sells cookware by recruiting people to throw parties highlighting its products, have seen a 7 and 6 percent jump, respectively,  in sign-ups in the first quarter alone. Meanwhile, Pure Romance, which pedals sex toys, has seen a whopping 30 percent increase in consultant growth during the past year.

Christina Sutton was a stay-at-home mom in Denver, N.C., until the recession hit and her husband told her they couldn't afford new clothes for their two children. She hosted a Pampered Chef party at her house and realized she could be the one hocking the merchandise. After four months with the company, she's already pulling in more than $800 a month for about six hours per week.    

But not all MLM opportunities are legitimate (think pyramid schemes where interested consultants pay to participate in a company where compensation is offered but no product is ever provided to sell) or moneymakers for everyone. "The terrible reality is that MLMs cause double harm in a recession," says Robert L. FitzPatrick,  president of Pyramid Scheme Alert (pyra midschemealert.org) and co-author of False Profits, which investigated pyramid schemes and multilevel marketing. "Now that there is a recession, the market for MLM is expanding, even while the market for their products—pills, potions, lotions, insurance, fruit juice, meal replacements, etc.—is shrinking. So, MLMs can find more people desperate for income, and they can make even more money falsely promising them an income opportunity."

But in spite of the potential pitfalls, nowadays a job is a job. "The kind of unemployment rates we're dealing with scares everybody," says Fred Campbell, a professor of marketing at UNCC's Belk College of Business. "You don't know what's going to happen, and this kind of work offers a quick easy cushion."



More »Related Stories

The Knights Come Home

After 10 years of court cases, after a series of complicated land swaps, after two decades floundering away as the South Carolina baseball team with the Charlotte name, the Knights are home. And the pressure is on to make it all worthwhile

Anthony Abbott: More Than Words

Five decades ago, poetry saved a Davidson College professor from despair. He’s spent the rest of his life sharing the gift of writing with others

Real Estate 2014

Charlotte’s real estate market is coming back to life. Whether you’re starting a family, looking to invest, or retiring, there’s a house out there for you

Shadows by the Sea

Fifteen years ago, a Charlotte woman began a new career as a police officer on an enchanted island. enchanted island. A few months later, she was found shot to death near the base of North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse. Today, the case has been reopened, and the search for answers continues

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Add your comment:

Blogs »


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

A busy week in Charlotte craft beer with events by VBGB, JJ's Red Hots/Triple C, Custom Home Pubs/Unknown, Olde Mecklenburg and Birdsong

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

McCrory's Coal Ash Proposal: All Sizes Fit One

Gov. McCrory's proposed coal ash legislation sounds like a strong step toward forcing Duke Energy to clean the stuff up. It's not. Here's why.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Spring Feasts

Ham, matzah, lamb, potatoes, and eggs, oh my. Passover kicked off Monday and Easter is coming up, so I've got a meal plan ready for you if you've put it off till now.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Coming This Fall: RockSalt

Owner Travis Croxton on his new space at Park Road Shopping Center, his family's oyster farm, and his love of Price's Chicken Coop

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Matthews Market Opens for Spring this Saturday

After a snowy winter and early spring cold snap, farmers and customers are eager to return

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Nightlife News: Sydney’s Martini and Wine Bar Opens, Rebranding Leads to 3 Trade, and Dharma Lounge Prepares to Close

Keep up with the changing landscape in Charlotte’s nightlife scene.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

Charlotte’s first growler fill store to open this summer

Located in SouthEnd, The Beer Growler will have 45 taps

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Springtime Events, ‘Illmatic’ Tribute Party, Cigars and Stilettos, Oak Room’s First Anniversary, and More April 17-20

The days leading up to Easter are quite eventful in Charlotte. Your social itinerary awaits.

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Carowinds in Bloom

The springtime festival continues through the weekend with flowers, cooking demos, and craft beer

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Sow Much Good

Providing fresh produce and farm goods to those in urban deserts, Sow Much Good has reopened

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte (4/16/14): Blue Man Group, Springsteen, & Local Natives

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The 'Republican Civil War'

A Monday afternoon sampler.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

NoDa Brewing takes gold in World Beer Cup

Hop, Drop ‘N Roll lays claim to top American IPA

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

The Mint's 61st Annual Room to Bloom

From a book signing with an international designer to an elegant evening outdoors, this fund-raiser is packed opportunities

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Concerts in the Round

South Charlotte will host Concerts in the Round again this summer and the fun kicks off soon

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

Will Springsteen Cover a Local Song Saturday?

Comments


Making Pictures

Photographs from Charlotte and beyond

#OpeningKnight

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

4 Local Plant Sales this Weekend

Get out and make your purchases

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

Tillis's 'Big Boy Pants' and the Creeping Tyranny of Toll Roads

A leaked recording of Thom Tillis unveils a silly phrase and the warped mindset of his GOP opponents.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Easter Brunches in Charlotte

Easter is next Sunday, April 20, so make those reservations if you want a special brunch out with family and friends

Comments