It seems like everybody's got a little project going on. I've got a friend who makes book earrings and sells them on Etsy. Another friend does baking. Other friends, less creative with their hands, have taken up selling cosmetics, essential oils, or clothes. It's the modern day, 21st century, hipster version of Avon, Mary Kay, and Tupperware.
I totally get it. Money is so tight, especially in a city like San Jose, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the country. If I could find the time, I'm sure I'd take up doing something extra on the side, too. But my day job really keeps me too busy for that sort of thing.
And here's the thing: these people who invite me to their Jamberry parties and LuLaRoe events? They talk about how selling these things make them feel independent and confident, and if that's true, that's great. I mean, to me all of these multi-level marketing schemes seem like a bit of a scam, but if someone really like the clothes or the nail wraps then kudos. If it helps an acquaintance save up for a special trip with her family or buy something important to his child, that's fantastic. I'm really happy for them.
But it's not reciprocal, is it?
"But you just said you don't have a side hustle." Well, that's true. But I do have my actual job, that bookstore where I work. It fills my days and my evenings, and I pour myself into the job. I would hope that my friends would shop there, because it's a great store and we have fantastic product, but also because shopping at the store and keeping me employed puts a roof over my head and food on my table.
In actual practice, that rarely happens.
I mean, if I know someone just doesn't buy books, then no big deal. I'm sad for them that it's not a form of entertainment they enjoy, but whatever. Float your own boat, man.
But if you are a reader, and you have a friend who is a bookseller, why wouldn't you buy books from them? These hustlers clearly understand what a difference "shopping local" can make, because they're always reaching out to their social media and personal networks for more sales, but they buy their books on Amazon instead of popping by my store. It doesn't make much economic sense to buy things from them - especially clothes that aren't quite my style or fancy make-up I don't need, if that money's just going to fund a company that seems dead-set on killing my industry.
It's a little frustrating because I don't really know a way to bring this up tactfully, so instead I just say I can't afford whatever they're selling and move on. The one good thing about side hustles is they tend to sort themselves out fairly quickly. The creative friends selling their handcrafted goods tend to find their niche and move on, while the MLM friends tend to burn out (because it's a scam and they make no money, I assume) and move on, and life returns to normal.