It's Just Good Scents

Idaho company provides $100,000 cash infusion into the local economy and hopes to inspire others to follow suit

Americans will never forget the events of September 11, 2001. In addition to mourning the loss of so many innocent lives lost that day, we also witnessed the impact on small business. Thousands of small businesses were wiped out that fateful day and many never recovered.

Entrepreneurs Orville and Heidi Thompson found themselves $700,000 in debt after the 9/11 terrorist attacks hurt their previous business of selling goods at fairs and kiosks.

Everything changed one day when Orville met Kara Egan and Colette Gunnell who were selling their wickless candles and low-watt bulb warmers at a home show in Salt Lake City, Utah in March 2004.

When Orville and Heidi bought the Scentsy company from Egan and Gunnell two months later, they never realized that simple idea of offering a wickless alternative to scented candles through house parties, open houses and home shows would grow into one of the most rapidly-growing companies the direct selling industry had ever seen.

What began in 2004 in a 40-foot ocean container on a small Idaho sheep farm is now a national company growing 300% annually with more than 35,000 independent consultants in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Earlier this year to celebrate the company’s 5th anniversary, Scentsy gave $50 each to approximately 1,000 employees and their families to spend at 40 family-owned businesses nominated by employees. Scentsy employees ended up spending an additional $10,000 of their own money at the local small businesses.

According to John Curtis, public relations strategist for Scentsy, they originally had thought about doing a typical celebration for a company like theirs.

“We thought about maybe doing a carnival and renting some rides for our employees,” he said. “But, the amusement company was in California and it would have cost a sizeable amount. So we decided to spend the money here in town instead.”

One Monday morning during his sales call, Orville had mentioned what they did on a local scale and there was a lot of interest from Scentsy consultants that they decided to expand on the idea and Contribute 2009 was born.

Contribute 2009 was originally designed to give Scentsy consultants an opportunity to contribute to local businesses but has since expanded to include everyone who wanted to participate. The goal was to inspire 100,000 people to pledge to spend an extra $50 at locally-owned businesses. That would create a $5 million economic infusion that could create a ripple effect in communities across the nation.

As part of its promotion, the company invited people to buy online a Contribute 2009 T-shirt for $9 and get a $10 Scentsy gift certificate in return.

“When we actually did the shopping day, we were all together and in our Contribute 2009 shirts,” Curtis said. “We had some business owners that were in tears and some of them said that we were an answer to their prayers. Some said they had no idea how they were going to survive the summer had we not brought that extra money into their stores.”

Keep the word spreading and start your own Contribute 2009 event. For more information, visit —Lynn Celmer

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