As gold prices continue to skyrocket -- on Wednesday they soared to a record $1,298 an ounce -- Plainfield's cash-for-gold outlet at 13327 S. Route 59 is ramping up its presence with a sign spinner and a flashy neon light.
I stopped by Midwest Gold Buyers earlier this week. While I waited to ask a few questions, I couldn't help but hear gold buying rep Debby B. appraise a customer's jewelry.
Debby B., as I read from the gold badge of her blouse, declined to give her full name, but took my number for her boss, who never got back to me. Debbie B. was almost painfully polite and sincere to the middle-aged woman, who said she is out of work and her husband is ill.
Before walking out with a check for $304 for her other items, the woman signed on for a home gold-buying party in October. Party hosts get 10 percent of receipts, Debby B. explained, and she said she'd never heard of a party netting less than $750 in sales. But that's enough to earn the party-giver a complimentary manicure or pedicure. If 20 guests show up with gold to sell, the host gets a $120 bonus. If a guest brings along an uninvited seller, there's an hourlong massage in it for them.
Debby B. first heard about Midwest Gold buyers from TV commercials inviting folks to send away their gold, she told the woman. Back then, she wondered why anybody would do that. But with stores and home parties, gold owners can skip the worrisome risks and still cash in on quick sales, she said.
The Plainfield branch of Midwest Gold Buyers, one of about 50 in the Chicago metro area, opened last November. The company stages more than 400 home parties a month throughout Chicago and the suburbs, according to information on its Web site.
Identical twins Jake and Jordan Sadoff and their mother, Judy, launched the company when gold values were poised for an upward leap and the economy for a downward dive in 2005. In 2008, gold-selling home parties gained tremendous popularity "due to the widespread media interest of this new phenomenon," the Web site says.
Ah, such fun. But if you're not in a party mood as you trade in trinkets and heirlooms, just drop off your gold and make a beeline for the bank.