About ten years ago, when I was married, my husband and I moved to a new state. There were a few delays in getting into our house. Our real estate lady found us a temporary host, an aging widower. For the next six weeks, I hoisted my pregnant carcus up and down a flight of shakey stairs leading to three rooms atop a garage.
Our landlord, who managed to command a rather princely rent, viewed us a sort of a captive "cash cow." And towards that end, he had one unflagging interest - to sell us insurance. Or rather, to sell my husband insurance. For the better part of a year, his hot pursuit of my husband included luncheons as well as invitations to golf outings and a resort in the Bahamas. We were adrift in insurance logos which embellished the many pens, pencils, caps, towels and golfing accessories one usually receives in a bag at charity events.
Though I repeatedly and with increasing curtness, informed him that
we didn't need insurance, he appeared deaf to me. He eventually stopped
calling the house and took up phoning my husband at the office. Later,
he admitted to my husband that, in insurance, they never pitched wives.
Women, he said, were too difficult a sell. The saying inside the
insurance trade was, "Don't pitch the bitch."
Have times, finally changed? An article in the NY Times, "What Do Women Want? Just Ask," points out that the increasing affluence of women has moved retailers in some heretofore "male only" industries to cater to women.
But women entrepreneurs are filing in the gaps too. If you want to change a light switch or buy a car, you can go to some new websites by and for women. A new home repair site, BeJane.com gives instructions for many household repairs and has a message board and forums. As the owner of Dare to Repair, by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet (yes, wife of Homeland Security chief Bill), I'll certainly consult this site.
Also, if you've ever struggled to get the attention of an auto salesman, that is, without hiking up your skirt, AskPatty.com, a new site, offers maintanence, reviews and purchasing information. AskPatty also plans a Certified Dealership Program of dealers who offer female-friendly service.