SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Reuters Life!) - Arizona realtor Marie Richert raises the pink, palm-sized gadget and takes aim at the silver foil outline of a man set up in the kitchen of her friend’s home.
She fires two steel harpoons that streak to the target, delivering a crackling 50,000 volt jolt of electricity, while the couples gathered around the buffet look on approvingly.
“That felt empowering,” she says with a broad smile, “I am definitely thinking of buying one.”
Home sales parties began with Tupperware, cleaning products and lingerie, although the latest shocking trend blazing a trail in the United States is Tasers.
Arizona entrepreneur Dana Shafman, 35, began selling a sleek new range of stun guns rolled out last year by Scottsdale-based Taser International.
Originally only available in a law enforcement model, the so-called “Lady Taser” is made in nine different colors and patterns, ranging from fashion pink to leopard skin and two varieties of camouflage.
Schmoozing with clients at her home, and in a presentation aided by two male defense teachers, she says the device has a lot of appeal to women and is catching on fast.
Since starting out late last year, she has held some 30-40 home sales parties in several states across the United States, marketing the gadgets to fashion conscious women concerned for their safety.
“Women are asking for it, and there is a lot of interest,” Shafman said of the stylish C2 Taser models that retail at $350, plus a $10 registration fee.
“The biggest hit seems to be fashion pink at the parties,” she added.
The stun gun works by scrambling the electrical signals sent by the brain to the muscles of the body, temporarily immobilizing an attacker.
The debut of the “Lady Taser” last year spiked concern among some police and human rights groups over possible misuse in civilian hands.
While Tasers are banned in some states, Shafman says she plans to extend her parties to all 43 where they are legal, offering mostly women clients what she says is protection from violent assaults.
Since starting out, Shafman said she has received inquiries from hundreds of women interested in hosting parties nationwide to sell the stun guns.
Those attending the event in Scottsdale — several with their husbands or partners in tow — listened to a presentation, nibbled food, and then tried out the product, some clearly won over.
“I would be a lot more afraid to use a gun, but a Taser ... I like the idea,” said marketer Bonnie Anderson, beaming after test firing one.
Petite accountant Lisa Richmond, meanwhile, said she liked the designs, and the fact that the slender stun gun fitted easily into her hands.
“It was easy to operate ... and it was actually kind of fun to use,” she said.
While the party format is light, Shafman has a serious intent as she seeks to expand her business.
“Women seem to be perceived as the more vulnerable group, which I am trying to change,” she said.
“If I can protect one woman from being killed, raped or assaulted, then I have done my job,” she said.