Is Longaberger completely doomed?

What do a Tupperware container, a perm, and a Longaberger picnic basket all have in common?

Well, they’re all nostalgic, for one.

They also all peaked harder than your high school’s prom queen and then took a nosedive into oblivion. People want to come to your basket parties just about as much as they’d want to come to your Tupperware parties or go get their hair permed…

Longaberger is an MLM that has been in the game for a while now and still holding on.

Have I been involved?

This video explains:

 

All good? Let’s continue…

Overview

The Longaberger Company’s history is as wholesome and all-American as apple pie and the star-spangled banner. What did you expect from a company that sells picnic baskets?

Longaberger was founded by Dave Longaberger in 1973 in Dresden, Ohio. However, it was a family business long before that. His father, J.W. Longaberger, started out as an apprentice at The Dresdne Basket Factory wayyy back in 1919. He grew a passion for basket weaving, apparently a very enthralling activity, and decided to make a living out of it.

Then the Great Depression happened and the factory shut down, but that didn’t stop him. J.W. took his mad basket weaving skills and started up his own business selling hand-woven baskets. By 1973, his son Dave had picked up the hobby and decided to introduce the business to the world of direct sales.

Before long, Longaberger became the biggest employer in Dresden, with over 8,200 full-time employees in their giant picnic basket shaped headquarters building. What’s more, they hit $1 billion in sales in 2000, something very, very few MLMs have managed to do. Dave Longaberger eventually passed the company over to his daughter, Tami Longaberger.

Unfortunately for the Longaberger family, America seems to have outgrown hand-woven baskets. Tami Longaberger announced that she was resigning from the company on May 5, 2015, and passed it over to a man named John Rochon Jr. and parent company CVSL – Longaberger is no longer a family business. [1]

They’ve gone from over 8,000 employees to just 75. They’ve gone from their glory days of hitting a billion in sales to just $100 million in 2012. Now one of CVSL’s poorest performing direct-sales companies (they own 8), Longaberger’s revenues have been declining at double-digit rates for a couple years now. [2] [3]

In August 2016, Longaberger confronted legal troubles as it was reported that they can’t even manage to pay their phone bills and have filed their financials late for several quarters now. [4]

They’ve even been trying to sell their infamous headquarter building, which cost the company $32 million to build, for several years now. They have no use for all the space. [5]

Not surprisingly, no other companies are jumping at the bit to purchase a building shaped like a giant picnic basket. It’s been on the market, dropping in price, for several years now. Its plummeted all the way down to a $5 million asking price, and there are still no takers. [6]

How much does Longaberger cost?
$79-$264 for a business starter kit.

Products

Although all Longaberger products used to be hand-woven and individually signed and dated before they blew up, they do still sell some handmade and high-end products within their “WOVEN” collection.

They’ve also branched out and sell a wider variety of baskets as well as other products now. Products include tableware, pottery, home accents, tabletop decorations, and even “Longaberger Couture”, a line of luxury baskets, urns, and vases that are priced in the thousands.

Some examples of products on their site include:

  • Medium Berry Basket – $58
  • WOVEN Bicycle Basket – $91
  • Hanging Flower Basket – $79
  • WOVEN Retro Style Side Table – $529
  • Large Oak Park Vase – $3,600
  • Everyday Tableware 4-Piece Dinnerware Set – $96

So, I can see why they’re struggling. Aside from being outdated, their products are also incredibly overpriced. While a hanging basket designed specifically for my flowers is a lovely idea, it’s wildly impractical, and costs more than the flowers themselves.

Opportunity

Longaberger calls their compensation plan a “Dream Builder Plan”, but don’t expect to be building your own dreams any time soon.

Personal Sales Commission

Commission on personal sales is 25% at Longaberger, which is pretty low. However, you can get up to a 50% discount on some samples.

Team Commission

Basic consultants are not eligible for team commissions. However, if you buy their full business builder plan, you can earn overrides on the sales of your team members that depend on your rank. These overrides range from 1% on your direct recruits as a Senior Home Consultant to 10% overrides on your central group, 6% on your direct break-offs, and 2% on your indirect break-offs as an Executive Director. Moving up in rank is not easy, though. You’ve got to recruit like crazy AND your recruits have to sell like crazy.

Perks, Vacations, Awards

If you can make it all the way up to a Director level ranking, that’s when you really start bringing in the attention, and the rewards. You can earn all kinds of bonuses and vacations, in addition to huge overrides and commissions on showroom sales.

But almost no one makes it far enough to get these big rewards. If direct sales wasn’t hard enough selling a product with a lot of buzz, like Beach Body and doTERRA, try selling picnic baskets.

Recap

Longaberger may be historic, but their future is not looking bright for them. I give it a few more years before they tank completely, unless they can pull a real miracle out of nowhere. You never know.

Getting involved in a washed up MLM that can’t even pay their phone bills is probably the worst way to make money. Even if Longaberger can pull a Patriots in the latest Super Bowl and make a miraculous overtime comeback (lol, sorry Falcons fans), it’s not a risk worth taking.

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Jeremy Page

Jeremy Page created Multiple Streams for ballers, big thinkers and online business owners. You can follow him on Instagram here.

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