Starr has been selling home and garden décor from the following distributors: Smart Living Company (SLC) and SMC for more than ten years.
What It's Like Selling With SIGMA Distributors (Formerly Smart Living Company (SLC) and SMC)
When I began selling home decor it was with the distributor SMC (Specialty Merchandise Corp), and its spokesperson was Tom Bosley from the TV show Happy Days. In April 2012 SMC changed its name to Smart Living Company. This article was first published over eleven years ago and updated (most recently in Feb 2020) to reflect recent changes to this supplier to completely new company.
Based on my 11+ years experience, yes, it is definitely possible to make money. It is not a scam. You will make money more efficiently if you follow my advice below and avoid choices that make your work harder.
2020 welcomes SIGMA Distributors
As of December 31, 2019 the inventory and warehouse that belonged to Smart Living Company were purchased by SIGMA Distributors (Referred to as SIGMA henceforth.).
Change is scary and while not at the fault of the new company I felt like a little more notice of the change from SLC would have been beneficial instead of going to the website to place an order to find it was effectively no longer available just a page with a notice of the sale.
Updates coming soon on what to expect from SIGMA.
Smart Living Company Basics (left for historical reasons)
Smart Living Company buys and warehouses thousands of home and garden décor products that you can sell in various ways. It provides catalogs and supplies you can use to sell their products. Some of the products are shown on television or may have been picked up at closeout prices. Brands they carry include Home Locomotion, Cloudworks, Natural Solution, Wyland, Harley Davidson, and Sesame Street, just to name a few.
Smart Living Company is more or less like any other drop shipper service. Unlike brokers like Doba, who connect you to the manufacturer or company who has the product and charges you a fee for it, you buy the product from SLC and they either drop ship it or deliver it to you so you can resell it.
Can You Make Money? The Answer Is Yes
Of course there is potential at SIGMA, just like any other sales program. To be honest, you aren't likely to go from never having sold anything before to being a wealthy top ranking salesperson. But why not be fair to the system and actually learn about it before judging it.
I had been using SLC/SMC for over 11 years for a side income. I have averaged about $2,000-$4,000 in sales per year the last 6+ years. I would not call that a smashing success, but I sure would not call it a failure by any means. One year when I was able to stay at home and dedicate more time to my sales I averaged much higher sales.
While I enjoy selling online, it is not as reliable an income as a steady paycheck. Any successful business requires time and dedication.
During weeks where I only put in two to four hours of real effort, I see about $30-$700 in sales, which is at worst $15.00 per hour and at best $350.00 per hour for my efforts. This of course does not consider any costs associated with those sales. Because I don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, my costs derive from online and in-person cash-and-carry sales only.
I Decided It Wasn’t a Scam
I researched SMC, as it was called before I began, quite a bit before I decided to join it. I had been selling on eBay and on my own sites. My most successful ventures have been selling home décor items and Tupperware.
Before Smart Living Company I had been exposed to with get-rich schemes and "it’s so easy that it sells itself" type of programs. I had been scammed before. So I didn't go into Smart Living Company expecting to get rich, and I decided to check it out in detail before I tried it, and of course I called my mother who had been a member in the past to get some advice. I am glad I knew what to expect before I signed up.
Read More From Toughnickel
I went ahead even though thousands of individuals claimed SMC was a scam, because I could tell from what they said that most of those individuals had not made good decisions in their experiment with SMC. They did not follow the plan laid out on the website or the descriptions in the infomercials.
It’s right to be skeptical of any commercials saying some wonderful system can make you wealthy nearly overnight. As they say, if it is too good to be true, it probably is. Does that mean it is not worth trying? Absolutely not! It just means you should develop a good business plan before you begin.
Think optimistically but plan realistically, with achievable figures, as with any other big life decision. You can begin making money using Smart Living Company successfully if you are truly prepared to do the work involved.
What You Get By Joining SIGMA
Now that we have answered the question“Can you make money with SIGMA?" with a "yes,” let us explore how you can.
SIGMA gives you the option of buying from them and having the item "drop shipped" directly to the person you are selling to, or ordering in bulk directly to you for you to resell, in a "brick and mortar" business, door to door, or kiosk. Similar to Tupperware or Avon you can get catalogs and host parties, or you go to the distribution center and make large purchases without having a shipping expense.
SIGMA has many options for purchasing: you can drive there to pick up your order, order online, mail in an order or phone in an order. They do not charge a "drop ship" fee. Meanwhile I can assure you there are lots of wholesale drop shippers who charge from $1.00 to $8.00 per order just to ship the item for you or to broker the deal between you and the manufacturer, and will charge you for shipping on top of that.
If you are selling at a party or door to door, a per-order charge may not be an issue if you order all items at once and deliver them personally as opposed to in a brick and mortar store. This business would be hard to do for someone without a phone or internet. You could mail your orders in, but your sales would be limited, practically, to brick and mortar stores or flea markets.
When you sign up you will get access to SIGMA's website, which is searchable like any other website. The front page is full of links taking you to resourceful areas of the site and to the lowest cost products.
As of February 2020 there are currently no charges to be a member however they have also removed the volume discounts. This is subject to change as SIGMA continues to evaluate their options for improving their business.
If you are a highly motivated salesperson who isn't afraid to ask someone for a sale face to face, there are so many opportunities waiting for you. But your new business still has a long road ahead with many hurdles.
The single biggest hurdle might be the cost of operating an online store and the cost of getting it set up if you do not have either website design skills or a lot of time on your hands to learn them. More on that further down in the article.
Catalogs are currently not available as of February 2020.
Tools are available to help you succeed, or to do better if you have been trying to sell SIGMA. This page is purely informational to assist readers in making a decision whether to use SIGMA and does not represent the company in any way.
Plans to earn money selling any product will require very hard work regardless of the supplier you choose.
Looking for a Connection Without the Commitment?
HNG Wholesale allows free access to the same products as Smart Living Company. For more information visit HNG's F.A.Q.
Shipping and Website
Limitations of Website
Since the change to SIGMA they finally did get a new site up but it still has some limitations.
- Downloading pictures is one large zip file or one by one from the product page.
- While they did add bright green plus sign buttons to make it easier to “add to cart” they do not have a way to just add with SKU number.
- They now have a product feed that is updated 3 times a day during week days. A warning to those that rely on the product feed. There are occasionally big delays in when the inventory files say a product is back in stock and when you can actually place your order for that item to ship.
The rate is 25% of your order with a minimum of 10.95. This is a significant increase put into place over the summer 2020. This year has been particularly rough and shipping companies have also raised their rates this year. Freight costs for items coming from abroad are very expensive due to COVID-19 at this time.
The 25% may not be competitive however when I price my own shipping labels it often is right about the same or just a little less than quotes, I receive from UPS/FedEx ground services.
You can order from them via email though and provide your own shipping labels. This could be very useful if you are doing enough shipping labels to get a good discount from major shipping service companies. I don’t use their services enough for a very big discount but I am price shopping more and more lately to try to save money on shipping costs.
Shipping Times and Tracking Information
After the previous company changed warehouses, I was upset with shipping delays that lasted more than a month for some of my orders. After a couple of months, orders for less than two or three items started shipping quickly, but the struggles continued for another two to three months for larger orders.
When SIGMA took over there was yet another set back to shipping times as they got settled in.
Currently overall shipping has improved dramatically and customers are very happy with the fast shipping. Now orders I place by noon PST typically are shipped that day or the next morning at the latest. There are always exceptions for very heavy or bulky products.
I lost some loyal customers during the warehouse upgrade and for the most part they have not come back. On the other hand, since the warehouse finally worked out the kinks, shipments go out very quickly and I have gained new customers.
A huge change is the speed of notification of shipping, invoices sent to your email and tracking reports sent daily.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How much does it cost to join SLC?
Answer: At this time due to the recent changes to SIGMA Dist. I am unable to tell you a fee amount for new accounts as I have not been able to find any indication of a charge to new members and for myself, I registered as a previous SLC member. Update as of 3/29/2020: There are currently no monthly/annual fees for being a member.
Question: I had an old account when it was Specialty Merchandise Corp. How do I know what my fees will be now if I want to start up again?
Answer: If your membership number rolled over to Smart Living Company then there could be a chance it has migrated to SIGMA as well. As for fees they are currently not charging any fees.
Question: Can I get catalogs?
Answer: Currently, the new company does not provide catalogs. This may be a feature they bring back but as of right now the answer is unfortunately no.
Question: I've been an SMC member since 1989, how do I get to the new website?
Answer: You can visit https://sigmaslc.com/
Question: I have the opportunity to pass out hundreds of catalogs, do I have to do everything online while working for Sigma Distributors?
Answer: No, however, they currently do not have catalogs available to purchase. You potentially could make your own small catalog. The new company is still working the kinks out in their setup.
What do you think of our advice?
Starr (author) on May 09, 2020:
Oh absolutely you could. In today's day and age not having them provide catalogs isn't nearly as big a deal. I have one customer that once a year she buys like 20-30 each of three products. She sells them at an annual trade show. I see others selling products at flea markets and some people just deal directly with businesses to help them with decor.
Eleen Mickey on April 27, 2020:
Thanks for the article, I use to get SMC catalogs in mail all the time wanting me to sign up and start selling for them. I was going to but, things came up and I just kept putting it off. Until here lately I've been searching the internet trying to find their website and couldn't. I'm glad I can across your article and now have learned that they changed the name of the company. I'm now in a position where I can sell a few things and in need of a second income. Tell me could I sell products without having a web site. Thanks again for this article, it was very helpfull.
Trace Frahm on January 16, 2020:
I was a member of SMC since 2005 as a wholesaler, and despite my positive attitude, SLC removed the white price and our ability to do business. SLC never really got going and reduced the product line down to bare bones so not surprised at their demise. I ordered from Sigma, received only 60% of the order, and am still waiting for an invoice. With no invoice, no Sigma website, I used my own E-Merchant website to find retail pricing. It was then I discovered that the 39694 and 39695 Desert angels are $13.99 on our website and $16.99 on the Sigma/SLC status reports. I emailed the Sigma folks about it and received an email saying that they would give me credit this one time only and I was to refer to the status reports from now on. Sigma has already raised prices dramatically! I responded asking for our order invoice and explained that I discovered different pricing between my website and the Sigma reports. I asked them if Sigma is planning on supporting the E-Merchant Club websites? We will see. I have a second order waiting to be placed at Sigma/SLC but discovered that many of those items have disappeared from the Sigma line up already. Also, I had over $300.00 of gift card credit on my SLC account and it is gone, or is it? Who is Sigma Distributing? When you do a Google search there is no previous business with that name. That seems odd that owners with no prior specialty merchandise experience would buy a failing SLC and do business successfully. Is Sigma/SLC just a temporary close out company to liquidate the merchandise perhaps?
Starr (author) on January 15, 2020:
Unfortunately we have not gotten setup with the new owner yet and were not notified prior to changes. When we figure out our next steps we will post an update.
Susan Gugar on November 29, 2019:
I have a antique shop in Texas. Can u send me a catalog ? I used to order from this company. Would love to again.
DebraAustin on October 30, 2019:
Ready to get starded making real money.
Alicia on September 15, 2019:
I am with Charlotte on this one, can anyone tell me how Smart Living is related to ZIngznthingz.
Charlotte on August 15, 2019:
Can anyone tell me how Smart Living is related to ZIngznthingz.
Emmanuel Green on May 20, 2019:
i am new to smart living looking for the best way to start.
Trace Frahm on March 02, 2019:
As with any home based online business, many people don't understand their responsibility to succeed, and end up blaming the vendor in the end. We were with SMC for years and sold to brick and mortar wholesale customers using only hardcopy catalogs, with moderate success. We had the gift card website for 2 or 3 years but found out that folks don't redeem gift cards as a rule. No problems cancelling the gift card website. After the buyout, SLC removed distributor pricing, squeezed wholesale price margins to 25% - 48% on most items, freight increase from 25% to 26% , they removed all freight incentives and lowered their order fill percentages so there are more out of stock items. In spite of this, we manage to still wholesale SLC products, offering a small discount off of their suggested retails with the high shipping costs too! Of course, our customers are forced to retail SLC products much higher than the catalog but the products still manage to sell. This is a testimony to the strong perceived retail value of SLC's products and they know this which is why they did what they did. We have never had ethical problems with SMC or SLC at all. I have negotiated with E-Merchant Club about a Deluxe website more than once, but always pull back because it seems that I have more questions than they can answer. For pre-payment of thousands of dollars, can I trust E-Merchant Club to provide what we need on a timely basis? Any advice is welcome.
AZAlicia on January 21, 2019:
Ok, so because I have not paid the price to upgrade, my site was pretty much worthless so I decided to cancel. Not an easy thing to do. The person I spoke with talked me into staying another six month and would upgrade me to the next level which acutally gave me a more professional looking site. Unfortunately I am still limited to only 50 items being displayed. Not sure if I am happy with it. I am going to hange in there a little longer, but am looking at some alternatives. I am thinking of doing so more research on Shopify. Same monthly cost.
janet hull on January 12, 2019:
waiting for my website to show up
DorothyCona on September 27, 2018:
I think with hard work this company your business can grow strong
Starr (author) on April 30, 2018:
I will write some updated info. As for eMerchantclub they are ok but I found their training to be more for very beginner level. I build my own sites and know way more already than any of their training provided for me. I did go through them just in case but I personally use a different platform for my site that I find more cost effective and easier to use. I do keep the hosting paid on the eMerchantclub because one day I do plan to spend more time customizing that site and making it more profitable. So far support on the weekend has not been available for me either. That makes it very tough when you are starting out. I personally made the mistake of not utilizing my coach when I had one in the beginning. Please let me know if I can assist any further.
Starr (author) on April 30, 2018:
Thank you! I will work on updating it with more recent and relevant information.
Starr (author) on April 30, 2018:
I am so sorry for the delay in replying. You can visit https://www.smartlivingcompany.com/shopper/homebus... to sign up with Smart Living Company. There are two plans available now with low monthly payments. It is a very easy process however I do not represent Smart Living Company in any way so I cannot specifically advise on what plan is best.
AZAlicia on March 10, 2018:
I like your advice; however, would like to know more about how they are doing now today. I signed up through eMerchantclub and let it set until my free training had expired. I have been in contact with them to try to get it going now. I spent an hour on the phone with someone from the eMerchant Club for free training (most of which I already knew) but then had trouble with the links they provided not working i.e. to the emc manual. So in my research to find help, I came across your review which has definitely helped me understand the process. So I am paying $29.95 a month which includes my SLC membership. My biggest issues is not being able to get support from either on the weekend either SLC or eMerchant club.
AZAlicia on March 03, 2018:
Good but it needs to be updated
Laura john on January 03, 2018:
I used to sell thru SMC products. How can i sell your products. How much will it cost
Sandy on September 20, 2017:
I was a member at one time how do I reinstate
Terrie Riley on May 24, 2017:
I used to sell with SMC how do i get started again with this new company?
Starr (author) on April 28, 2017:
The speed of shipments has just gotten better and better.
Starr (author) on April 28, 2017:
I do not know the answer to that since you actually stopped using them but it couldn't hurt to call them and ask.
Starr (author) on April 28, 2017:
Jean I am so sorry I didn't see your post earlier. If you are still interested in this let me know.
Lisa on March 08, 2017:
I have been a member since 1999. I love the business and my biggest problem is having money to advertise, get the word out about my website. I love the challenge of buying and selling though and they have some beautiful products. I am pretty disappointed that the prices have gone up. It used to be that you paid 33% of the retail price across the board on every item. Now, most items are about 50% of retail. Then when you factor in the shipping cost, which is also too high now in my opinion, I'm not making nearly the profit I used to. I still enjoy selling, but as someone else here said, I've also shopped around for other suppliers.
anonymous on February 02, 2017:
I have been a member since 2004, overall I have enjoyed my time with the company. Over the past couple of years I have seen some major improvements especially in shipping. Almost all of my orders are sent out same day. This make a very good first impression as I sell mostly online with my Emerchantclub website. I started with the Pro and last year bumped up to the Ultimate which gave me credit and the ebay tool which has made it easier to sell more products. Our latest venture is working on selling directly to stores which we have had some strong results.
JeanChamplin on June 11, 2016:
I was with SMC before. It changed the name I paid for the full amount they ask and at the end of each year a $49.00 membership fee. I was also getting catalogs through the mail. Now that I have more time I can do this full time what would I need to do to get started again. I still have my ole account number
I would also like to get your large catalog by U.S.Mail. Thank You. jean
Freddy's on July 02, 2015:
Been a member for years with a website through them. Overall been very happy. Since the new warehouse I have seen a dramatic decrease in shipping times, whatever they did has really made drop shipping my products very fast, with most being shipped same day. Very impressed over the last year with so many new products being added every month. One huge Kudos to them is the Quality of merchandise has almost doubled over the last 2-3 years. In the end they provide my company a product line at one of lowest costs of any of the companies I order from because there is no middle man. I like that I can buy directly, I wish I could order all of our products from them I would make more money!
Earline on May 23, 2015:
Hi, I was a "SMC Member for a long while, from November 1995 to June of either 2010, June or July of 2011. I just couldn't afford my membership anymore, which gradually ccreeper up from $19.95 to $49.95. If "SMC" knew they were about to change hands why not just tell the then members. People trust better when they are informed instead of feeling like the wool has been pulled over their eyes. My questions is: will I have to pay a new membership fee or pay monthly or am I Grandfathered in because my membership goes back to "1995"?
Starr (author) on March 22, 2015:
I have updated the page again and rewritten that section so that it is clear what I meant. I was only stating that the 1st option no longer appeared available when signing up online.
anonymous on March 05, 2015:
you wrote that some were not able online wrong I got my membership online I got 39.95 a month on so it should be rewitten.
Starr (author) on February 22, 2015:
I have to admit since they moved their warehouse I myself have experienced nothing but issues. That being said the person I work with does try very hard most of the time to get it resolved quickly. Orders are now flowing again although not nearly as fast as the old warehouse location so I find it a bit funny since their site says they moved to a more modern location to improve their shipping. Not sure if their old school ways were just better or its the learning curve of the new but it has made me seek out new supplier in addition to them. Exploring new avenues/products.
anonymous on January 13, 2015:
I have been with SMC for a long time and I was very happy with them.. not one problem ever. Since the new owner has taken over he has turned the company into crap and now has destroyed many successful businesses. This company went to hell in a hand basket! Items haven't shipped out since Nov.. they refuse to inform their customers of what's going on. Everyone selling these products on ebay has ruined their reputation because items are not shipping out. This new owner is a moron and will probably destroy his own business while he is at it.. and just so everyone knows.. They have a new website under a different name and they are selling retail and they are selling their products on Wayfair, Sears and probably some other major sites. So now they have become our competition. If you want to know the business name then look on Wayfair for a SLC product and you will see the suppliers name. That is shady as hell! Everyone using this crap company better start looking for other suppliers because I have a feeling they are going to end up going under..
anonymous on July 05, 2013:
SMC had a policy to price items to you at 1/3 the selling prices. So you got a 3 to 1 markup on most items. Then you only had to pay $50 per year, not per month, to renew your membership. I think you would be crazy to pay a company $40 a month to sell their stuff and pay their inflated prices. I don't know if you would call this a scam, but it isn't very good.
Starr (author) on April 26, 2013:
@anonymous: Thank you so much!
Starr (author) on April 26, 2013:
@anonymous: Thank you! We allow pretty good profit margins through our site. Not as good as if you purchase directly from SLC however I don't charge fees for membership. How did you sell before; online, door to door, parties, or flea markets?
anonymous on April 25, 2013:
I was a menber of smc and would like to do it again,I let my membership run out,because of an illness.I was making money when i was selling your product. I like your advise
anonymous on April 12, 2013:
Thank you. That was great business advice for a beginner!
anonymous on January 01, 2013:
Great advice. Thanks, I liked the honesty and feel like I learned something valuable.
Starr (author) on March 24, 2012:
@anonymous: You are very welcome! How do you plan to sell (online, in person, flea markets, etc)?
anonymous on March 21, 2012:
Im just starting out and your tips look really great, thank you for sharing.
anonymous on June 27, 2011:
Great tips! Or how to selling Smc online and to make more money online with smc. I been with smc about 2yr hope to make a lot of money with smc with difference resource.
KimGiancaterino on April 12, 2010:
Good tips! I had a very positive experience with SMC. I lived close by and picked up my items in person. This was a long time ago -- way before eBay -- so I sold things from their catalogs. It worked for awhile, but was never my primary source of income.