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Door-to-door, no more . . . Waimate Avon representative Gaynor Patterson will wrap up a 39-year career this year, after Avon announced it was closing its Australia and New Zealand operations by the end of 2018. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

STAFF REPORTER

The “longest-serving Avon sales representative in the South Island” has prepared her last order, after 39 years.

Gaynor Patterson, of Waimate, applied for a role with the door-to-door cosmetics company in 1979, as Avon for Women was about to launch in New Zealand.

“Customers’ children knew me as the perfume lady,” Mrs Patterson said.

“When they answered the phone or I knocked on the door they would yell out ‘Mum, it’s the perfume lady’.”

Mrs Patterson was a stay-at-home mother at the time and had 100 households in an area to visit regularly, selling perfumes, make-up, shampoos and “lots of other goodies”.

“I did not think I would last a year but here I am today, 39 years later, being the longest-serving representative in the South Island.”

She said “back in those days” car-driving residents had to choose a day a week not to drive their vehicles, but she spent her earnings on a Morris Minor 1956 car for the six-person family.

“Having two cars in the family [meant] carless days didn’t affect the daily running of the family and I could continue to do deliveries to my customers which ensured customer satisfaction and reliability.”

Since starting her job in 1979, Mrs Patterson has seen “many changes”, including marketing and a wider range of products for sale – including shoes, clothing and jewellery.

During her 39-year career she has met a lot of other representatives over all of New Zealand and has developed friendships with many long-time customers, but that is about to end.

Earlier this year, she was informed by Avon’s head office that the company had decided to close operations in New Zealand and Australia by the end of 2018.

She would be having a “well-earned break”, continuing with music, dancing, gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.

Mrs Patterson still planned to keep in touch with other representatives and said her customers were welcome to pop by for coffee and cake.

“I would like to say a big thank you to Avon .. but mostly to all of my customers and family and friends for support.”

“My saying is ‘It wasn’t what I did for the people, but what Avon did for me’, with getting me out in the public eye, meeting and communicating with new people and helping ladies feel good about themselves.”