Chapter 75: Buying Amway in China

Amway Shop in Sanya, China
My friend Chris had completely bought into Amway as a way of life, when he began working as a sales rep for them. But while I bought Amway vitamins, I wasn't buying his sales pitch. (photo by HNPIX from Wikimedia Commons)

“I’ve discovered a new confidence and joy,” exclaimed my Chinese friend Chris, who I also visited during my trip to Hangzhou in August 2003. He spoke with all of the passion of a born-again Christian pastor. Except this wasn’t about finding religion — it was about finding Amway.

I don’t know just how Chris went from masters studies in Chemistry to layman’s studies of direct sales. He had finished a year of graduate school at Zhejiang University, one of the country’s top ten schools, and presumably had two more years. Yet, here he was, in a dress shirt and tie, passing out Amway business cards — and demonstrating their products as if this was a sales call, instead of the friendly meeting over tea.

“Here try this,” he said, passing around an Amway hand moisturizer. “The glycerin and honey makes your skin feel softer and smoother than any moisturizer I’ve ever used.” My Chinese friend Caroline — the one who had been a matchmaker to John and I over a year ago — raised an eyebrow at me, and looked as if she was stifling laughter.

But it was no laughing matter to Chris. “Amway is the most supportive and encouraging organization I’ve found. I’ve made so many wonderful friends there, and there’s so much potential. You know, I went to a sales conference just recently, and the speaker, this 23-year-old woman, became an Amway sales rep and now earns 300,000 RMB a year, with a car and comfortable home in Hangzhou.” Chris spoke as if he had just seen the Wizard of Oz himself. But in a way, he had — to him, Amway was the wizard that could make him rich.

And, apparently, smoke, too. I caught him outside with John’s close friend, Lao Da, puffing on a cigarette. Barely a year before, he detested smoking. But when you’re a salesman in China, I expect it’s hard not to smoke — smoking with your client builds relationships, and could mean more business.

But this wasn’t the time to talk business. I had hoped this evening — at a teahouse beside the West Lake, with John, Chris, Caroline and Lao Da — would just be another evening of fine tea, treats and a little talk among friends.

In the end, Amway found us all, through Chris. To be sure, I bought their vitamins in China, and loved them. But it was hard to buy this new Chris, and his new “religion.”

What’s been your experience with Amway in China?


Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 75: Buying Amway in China

  • June 21, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Amway has such an interesting history in China. They were one if the first US companies to do direct sales to consumers in China, then they were banned, now they’re back stronger than ever. I’ve never used any of their products but if and when one of their sales reps comes my way I’ll try it out. I like buying from people rather than from stores so I’m sucker for things like Mary Kay and Avon.

  • June 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Chinese student selling cosmetics products… kind of deja-vu.
    Just recently watched the movie “Dark Matter”.

    • June 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      Hi Melanie, yeah, Amway is something, isn’t it? I was introduced to them by a friend, and bought their vitamins for a long time, until Watsons started stocking some good alternatives. But I’ve loved everything I bought — just not the hard sell tactics. 😉

      Hi Crystal, thanks for the comment. Dark matter, huh? I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m intrigued — will have to see it.

  • August 5, 2013 at 1:24 am

    I live in yiwu and i want to buy Amway product. can anyone suggest me where can i get original amway product in yiwu or can i contact for the same. I am more worried to buy from website thinking it might be copy product.

    • August 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      @sejal you’ll need to find an Amway distributor. Or an Amway store. There is one that I’m aware of in Hangzhou, but I haven’t any idea as to where it is located. Yiwu likely has its own store or network of distributors. Just ask people about 安利 (Chinese name for Amway).

      • August 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

        Thanks dear I am trying to find a distributor in Yiwu. Hangzhou is like 2 n half hr away from Yiwu a very different city. I hope to get some contact soon. I like away products they r nice and effective had used them in India, never thought it would be difficult to find in Yiwu. Hope so I get it soon.


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