Source: New York Times 1/26/2010

Avon in the New York Times

IN the 1880s, David McConnell, a door-to-door book salesman in upstate New York, thought that he might have better luck if he presented potential customers with a gift of perfume. By 1886, McConnell had formed the California Perfume Company, and within 20 years, 10,000 representatives were selling 117 products in 600 styles. In 1939, the company changed its name to Avon Products.

Today, direct sales make up 1 percent, or $29.6 billion, of consumer sales in the United States, according to Amy Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Direct Selling Association. In the cosmetics and personal care market, Avon dominates with more than 5.8 million representatives worldwide.

Even in a sluggish economy, Avon is calling. Its sales last year were estimated to be $10.4 billion, nearly double what they were in 2000.

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