The Crestview Public Library encouraged shoppers to "think outside the box" by hosting a Home Party Expo that brought together local home shopping party hosts and potential customers for a day of browsing, sniffing and sampling.

CRESTVIEW — Mac Kramer’s grin stretched ear to ear as he exited the Home Party Expo that the Crestview Public Library hosted Saturday. The 2-year-old, gripping a Santa key his mom, Dorothy Kramer, just bought for him, had assurance of a visit from the jolly old elf this Christmas.

Usually, Mac’s mom would have to take him to a Longaberger home shopping party to buy the pewter key, which provides Santa Claus access to homes lacking chimneys. However, at this event, nearly a dozen local home party hosts brought their shopping experiences to the library.

Library clerk Audrey Milcarek, an event organizer, said it allowed patrons to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping without the need to battle shopping center traffic.

“This is thinking outside ‘the box,’” Milcarek said, gesturing air-quotes in reference to a big-box store or mall.


Extra income

Home shopping parties’ benefits were evident on both sides of tables that lined the library’s main meeting room, Milcarek said. The representatives were as local as the shoppers were.

“These are great career opportunities for women who already have careers and are busy with families,” she said. “They either want to make a little extra money on the side, or want some extra income while taking care of families.”

Tastefully Simple home party host Beth Bryant — a consultant selling the gourmet food line for 10 years — said she appreciated the work-from-home flexibility.

“I tutor in school during the day,” she said. “This is my fun job.”

Some home parties feature demonstrations of the merchandise. Serena McCabe was displaying Pink Zebra home fragrance products to Crestview resident Lisa Garrison.

“We’ve only been in business a year,” McCabe said. “Our signature product is our Sprinkles” scented pellets. “Because it’s brand new, people are always interested. Instead of a show at someone’s house, we do a candle party and everybody makes a mini candle instead of me doing a demonstration. Everybody loves it. It’s a hobby as well as a little income here and there.”

Garrison hadn’t made up her mind whether to buy anything.

“I’m just out enjoying my Saturday,” she said. “But I might buy something. There’s a lot of interesting things here.”


Building business, community

Within the first 45 minutes, the Home Party Expo had attracted more than 40 library patrons who sniffed candles, admired cosmetics, browsed housewares, popped Tupperware lids and tried out Miche handbags with changeable “skins” and handles.

Though mostly women were visitors, several men came, too.

“I was getting some Christmas present ideas,” an unidentified man said as he hastily exited the room. “There’s too many womenfolk in there for me, though.”

Attendance, which included regular library patrons who stopped by out of curiosity and people who went to the library for the expo, made Milcarek optimistic.

“Hopefully, we can go bigger and better, get more representatives and maybe move it to the Community Center,” she said. “We want to show the library is involved with our community and with our local businesses.”