Screen capture and video via the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU, via YouTube
Among Dallas’ OG millionaires was a lady from Missouri who made her fortune in multi-level marketing, with a company that sold cheap wall hangings and tchotchkes to housewives.
Mary C. Crowley started Home Interiors and Gifts in 1957.
The Carrollton-based company’s salesforce threw parties where their friends and acquaintances could order things out of catalogs, in a similar business model to Mary Kay. That Dallas-based company’s founder, Mary Kay Ash, was Crowley’s sister-in-law who helped her start her own MLM.
In the 1970s, Crowley was paying herself salaries upwards of $1 million a year. Her $1.6-million salary in 1974 would be over $9.5 million today, when adjusted for inflation.
Crowley’s son, Dallas Mavericks co-founder Don Carter, sold the company in a $1 billion leveraged buyout in 1994. It has been defunct since 2008, but check out this pinterest page showing some of the old merchandise.
Crowley, who died in 1986, was known for her opulent style and religious fervor. She liked to read to her employees from a mink-covered Bible.
In the 1970s, when Americans saw high grocery prices due to a world food crisis, Crowley staged Supermarket Sweep-style shopping sprees for her company’s warehouse employees at Christmastime.
Watch below, from the bygone Safeway at Preston/Royal Shopping Center, in 1975. That year, the company spent about $97,443 on shopping sprees at two Dallas grocery stores, which would be about $488,000 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. All of the employees were also given turkeys and $25 gift certificates for “fresh meat.”
The footage includes Don Carter having the time of his life over the Safeway speakers.