Side Hustle Series: I’m a Sample Passer-Outer

“Good Afternoon. Can I interest you in a sample of our Savory Chicken Tacos? This is an easy and delicious meal that your whole family will love. Take some home tonight.”

If you frequently do your grocery shopping on the weekends, then chances are you have been approached by someone who is saying something similar to this and offering you a sample. If you live in the Columbus, OH area, then there’s a possibility that I was the one offering you the sample.

My official title is “product demonstrator” but I prefer to call it “sample passer-outer.” It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

How does it work?

I am an independent contractor for a company called New Concepts in Marketing (NCIM). It is the largest in-store marketing company in the country. NCIM works with brands who are interested in getting their products into consumers hands. They arrange for demonstrations in certain stores based on the specifications of the brand. Their job is to arrange for contractors to work as well as providing other services to companies and their brands.

As a product demonstrator, I receive a call from my area scheduler who offers certain dates and demonstrations to me. If I’m available to work then I will take the demo. If I’m not interested in working that day, then I pass on the demo.

(Schedulers will usually offer you demos that are closest to your home to avoid driving too much. I do not drive farther than 10 miles from my home and within that distance I have 3 stores to choose from.)

What do you need to get started?

Getting started is pretty simple but you will need to locate a few items to get going.

For NCIM we have a simple uniform of black pants, white shirt, black hat, black apron and black shoes. All of these items can be purchased inexpensively or you may already have them at home. Eventually though, you will need to purchase an official shirt, but it’s not essential to start.

You will also need to find a card table. You can borrow one from a friend if you do not have one. I do not suggest going out and buying one unless you had already planned on it. Eventually you will be buying a professional demonstration station for about $40. This may seem like a lot of money but it really makes your demos go more smoothly.

Depending on the demo, you may need a crock-pot, an electric skillet or a toaster oven. Again, borrow from a friend if you don’t have one. The nice thing about NCIM is that they will be renting that item from you each day that you use it. You will get a $2.50 rental fee from them on top of your regular fee.

You may also be bringing other items from home to use such as spoons, mixing bowls, a cutting board, etc. It really depends on the demo that you are doing.

What does a demo look like?

A few days before the demo is to take place, you will receive a package from NCIM with some of the items you will need. It could be coupons, signs, recipe cards or any additional items to pass out. You will also receive gloves, napkins or cups if they are needed, although some times you will be buying those at the store with money that NCIM provides you on a debit card.

About 5 days prior to the demo, you give the store a call and remind them of the demo that is coming up and request that they order enough of the product to cover the extra sales you expect to occur.

On the day of the demo, you gather all the items you need, head over to the store and let them know you are there. The store manager will instruct you on the best place to set up, usually it is in a main aisle where everyone is sure to see you.

You will gather all the products that you need and purchase them with your NCIM debit card. Then you are ready to go, just set up and start demo’ing. In your package earlier in the week, you will have received some directions, which include the script you will use for each consumer you encounter.

Demos usually last for 6 hours and once the time is up, you clean up your area, pack your items and head over to the customer service desk to get a signature and you are done.

There is a follow-up phone call and some paper to mail out on the next business day. You can expect payment within 48 hours after they have received your forms. For a demonstration that happened on a Saturday, I usually receive my payment on Thursday.

How much can you make?

The pay can range depending on the demo that you are doing but it is usually $54 per demo, which works out to be $9.00 per hour. I worked one over the weekend where I made $75 per demo, so the hourly wage was a bit higher.

Because I am an independent contractor, I do have to pay the taxes on this income at tax time. I’m not certain on this but items you have purchased to do your demos, such as clothing and appliances may be tax deductible (check with your accountant for clarification though.)

I’m a freelance writer and a graduate student. I’m also a single mom who shares custody with her ex-husband. I have the luxury of having every other weekend free and it is these weekends that I work my side hustle. However, if I have something that I’d rather do instead, then I don’t work.

If you are someone who likes to talk, has a great smile and can stand for up to 6 hours at a time, this might be the side hustle for you. You can sign up for NCIM as a product demonstrator by using this form. If you decide to do so, I’d love for you to use my name as a referral (Jessica Streit – thank you!).

Demonstrators are needed nationwide. If you are in the Columbus, OH area, I know personally that you could be working next weekend. There is a great need for product demonstrators!

Jessica Streit is a freelance writer and the owner of The Debt Princess. She writes about her financial mistakes and a journey into debt in the hopes of educating others before they make the wrong choices. Her goal is to prevent young adults from becoming addicted to credit cards & debt.

(photo by Panegyrics of Granovetter)

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  1. Paula @ Afford Anything December 8, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Wow, I had no idea so much went into it. I eat samples from “passer-outers” all the time!

  2. Well Heeled Blog December 8, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    That sounds like an interesting gig! I think if you are friendly and talkative, you will definitely get a lot more foot traffic. One of my friends is a brand rep who passes out premium tea drinks at events – she’s worked at several music awards (and have gotten stuff from the gifting suite for celebrities), worked at the beach, worked at Whole Foods, etc. And she has a garage full of samples. I’ve gotten used to drinking $3/bottle teas for free whenever I’m at her house.

    1. Emi July 28, 2023 at 2:23 PM

      How do I sign up, where is the NCIM link?
      I was actually signing up for Brand representative jobs. Now I cna Bea Brand Ambassador

  3. J. Money December 8, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Haha, that is awesome. I would LOVE a lot of those “people” kinda jobs :) Interacting and just chatting while pimping out some products here and there? Fine by me.

  4. PKamp3 December 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Hi Jessica, thanks for doing this! (Hope you get lots of referrals).

    One question I’ve wondered: Do you get mad at the kids who come back for seconds and thirds?

    1. Margie December 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      Remember. You are NOT suppose to take samples out of the store, Because ask your company you work for, That is stealing and you can get FIRED from doing demos….

  5. Daisy December 8, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    That’s awesome! I used to love going to Costco on Sundays’ because they had SO many samples. You didn’t even have to eat lunch!

  6. Jeffrey Trull December 8, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Sounds like an interesting job! I never knew outside people came in to do these things.

    I bet one of the hardest parts is not eating all of your own samples that you’re handing out :)

  7. Jana @ Daily Money Shot December 8, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    I never knew that the people who did this were contractors from another company. I just thought they were store employees. Guess that my “learn something new” for today!

    I always think of the episode of Roseanne where she and Jackie were handing out Soya Sausage and Cheese in a Can when I think of this job. I imagine that the job is really not like that at all, though.

  8. Foxie December 8, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Awwwww, I always wanted to do the side hustle post on this! Haha. This is my second and third jobs. :) I work for two companies — one does things just like this in the local Safeways and they pay decent, the other (my preferred company) pays quite a bit more, went from independent contractors to employees this year (hooray for taxes done and not having to worry about how much I worked!) and takes place in Costcos. The only Costco drawkback is that it’s always health & beauty products and I usually don’t have samples to hand out. (The food ladies beat the pants off of me, haha. But I get paid so well I don’t really care!)

    @PKamp3 — those kids never bothered me so much as long as I wasn’t running out of product. For my company, I have to report how many samples were passed out so they’re good for padding numbers. ;)

    Of course, those are just the companies I work for on a somewhat regular basis. I’ve done some very odd promo jobs in my life….. The most fun I had was actually working a promotion for the Scion tC. Not my kinda car but I was excited to work with such a familiar company. (I now do demos regularly for companies like Dove, Lever 2000, CoverGirl, Old Spice, etc.)

  9. retirebyforty December 8, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    That sounds like a great side hustle actually. One question – restroom break? 6 hours is a long time…

  10. Money Beagle December 8, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    That’s a cool job! I always get mad at the ones at Costco because it seems whenever I go up to the table, there is none there and they’re making more. Seems they should start the process earlier to keep things going. But I know you already have this down :)

  11. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager December 8, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I had no idea this was a contract job, I just thought it was something people who worked in the stores did. Plus, I didn’t realize they brought in their own equipment. Crazy!

    Also, do you need a food handlers permit?

  12. Emily Guy Birken December 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    What a cool way to make a little extra money. I had no idea you could earn that much, or I would definitely have been doing this when I was a poor grad student!

  13. Christa December 8, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Very interesting side hustle. I always wondered how demonstrators got hired. It seemed like a good job for extra cash.

  14. Hunter - Financially Consumed December 8, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    I bet you would come across some interesting people in this occupation. I can’t bring myself to sample anything in the grocery store, I just don’t find it appetizing with the busy atmosphere and plastic gloves.

  15. Jessica, The Debt Princess December 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Well Heeled…I’ve never had any thing like that. But it really sounds like fun.

    @PKamp3 It is very frustrating sometimes. I don’t mind if they come back a couple. I had a kid on Saturday who came back no less than 15 times. I finally told him there were none ready. He still tried to come a few more times and I convienently made sure there were none available.

    @Jeffrey It’s not really that hard. People don’t want to see you shoving food into your mouth when you are doing it so I don’t even get tempted. Now next week when I do Dove Truffles. I may have a problem.

    @Jana, some stores do use their own employees. Walmart for example but most contract out with it so they don’t have to worry about all the dealings with the brands.

    @retirebyforty Take it any time you need to but there is a 1/2hr break after 3 hrs.

    @Money Beagle there’s never a good way to always have stuff available, especially when you have to cook a complete dish. You have rotten luck or maybe you need to shop longer at the store? lol

    @Jenna I do not need one. I don’t even know what one is. But NCIM may have one to cover all of us.

    @Hunter There are plenty of people who say “No thank you.” I think they have similar reservations as well. Although the gloves are far better than no gloves, right?

  16. Matt, Tao of Unfear December 8, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Interesting. Like others, I didn’t know this was a contract job. But, I’ve only ever seen them at Costco, so if Foxie’s comment is any indication, THOSE people actually are store employees.

    I would definitely dig this side hustle.

    Know what I would dig even more? Being the person heading up all of those in store wine tastings. :D

  17. Jessica, The Debt Princess December 8, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    Matt, I have a wine tasting this month on the 30th. AND this weekend they are doing Eggnog and Southern Comfort.

    The wine tasting is a shorter demo, 4 hours but pays more per hour since you have to card EVERYONE and also take money (25cents per glass!).

    I’m looking forward to it.

    1. Lanita May 24, 2016 at 11:26 AM

      My name is Lanita and i was interested in the learning of the company you work for. Thank You Lanita.

  18. J. Money December 8, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Thanks for hitting up all the questions Jessica! SOooooo interesting indeed :)

    — I always wondered about the kids, or really ME, going in for seconds and thirds! Haha…. I didn’t know what the protocol was. So usually I just walk by it a lot until someone notices and asks me if I’d want another ;) Takes a while but works every time!

    — I also thought they worked for the store!

    @Foxie — Maybe we can do another side hustle with you later? On brand stuff? If we can go another angle on it, might be fun :)

  19. Ben Edwards December 9, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    The cool thing about that job is that everyone is always happy to see you! My kids love going to Costco and cruising the samples on the weekends.

    I wonder if they have undercover shoppers who come around and see how you’re presenting their product. Now that would be another cool gig, getting paid to sample food.

  20. Jessica, The Debt Princess December 9, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    @J$ I don’t really mind if people come back for more. If they really like it then they are more likely to buy the product. The purpose of my job is to sell the product. I’ve even told people “if you want another, you have to buy a box” But I’m sneaky like that.

    @Ben They do have them. I was audited last weekend by a field coach. He came buy once to take a sample and then returned to talk to me. I’ll know who he is next time but he said that sometimes he’ll stand off to the side so we can’t see them. (FYI: I passed my audit with flying colors) :)

  21. another guy December 10, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    Geez, you need to provide your own table, cooking utensils, etc. What kind of a cheap company do you work for?

  22. April December 16, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Thanks for posting! I have 5 companies that I contract for, representing severals different products/brands. The least I make is 18 per hour, my wine demonstrations are currently yielding 40 per hour! Whoop! Whoop! It can be tricky to mesh all of the schedules, but if you line up the right types of clients/product, it is an awesome gig! I have been self employed for 3 years, and have given up my other employment. I was even offered and expense paid trip to sell skincare next week (Christmas) but had too many other jobs to take it (worked for them previously – was flattered to have the offer). It’s great to be in a business that I actually have so much work, I have had to say no….. Today was day 1 of 9 in a row (averaging 6 hour days)……. Work hard for now to make up for a slow summer…. This kind of schedule doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me : )))

    1. helena April 8, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      I just got my alcohol certification and looking to do wine or beer demos. What are some of the best companies to work for doing wine demos and what is the best way to get started.

    2. Erika March 31, 2015 at 3:24 PM

      Hi April,
      I’m currently doing winedemos and looking for other companies to work for. I’m in the Washington DC area do you know of any here that I could contract with? I’m really looking to increase the number of companies I’m representing.

  23. J. Money December 17, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    I love it! DEF better to be too busy than struggling to find work – way to rock it! :)

  24. Ashley September 1, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    I worked for a company that does samplings inside of Giant Eagle. I did the wine samples, which was $11/hour. I didn’t have to have a cart or set anything up, just come in and be cheery and get people tipsy :) I think it was 5 hours Fri and Sat. Pretty simple. There are other options if you don’t want to deal with fees and such.

  25. Ashley September 1, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Does anyone know of any other companies locally that do alcohol samples?

    1. J. Money September 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Not me, though then again I don’t know *where* you live :) The idea of getting paid to get people tipsy is awesome though!! I had a few beer samples myself earlier this weekend and was def. a treat from grocery shopping. Good luck!

  26. Bonnie Crabtree February 20, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    A long time ago I did Demo’s for all kind of company’s around my area,wiich is in Stanton, Ky,,Winchester and Mt.Sterling,Ky.I first started just for difference sales people,For almost 2 years,almost every weekend ..I worked either in my home town or area’s near by.I worked a
    So for a company,I think it was this company,the white shirt,black pants( the whole works) I worked under the name Bonnie Back at the time. I would like to do that again.Every sale person always said I had a great personality ,they call me Perky.So I would like to know if there’s a place for me in this bussiness

  27. Kristan April 27, 2015 at 11:51 PM

    I would love to be able to do something like this. I have epilepsy and have 4 kids. I could realy use the money but don’t know how to get started. HOW

  28. james l jowitt jr June 23, 2015 at 10:54 PM

    I work for kds marketing I love doing simples and the pay is $9.00 per hour and they pay gasoline after 30 miles on long trips, put I m looking for a demo company that pays more than Kds marketing, know of any?

  29. Kymberly November 13, 2015 at 12:03 AM

    I am interested in doing wine demos in san angelo, TX. Any information would be appreciated

  30. Kari Komorowski April 9, 2016 at 11:49 PM

    Hi- I’m interested in handing out hair care or any beauty product samples. Anyone have any suggestions on where to sign up?

  31. Jim Donnelly April 26, 2016 at 9:54 PM

    I used to do this for NCiM on weekends for extra cash. It was an easy and interesting side job. I liked interacting with people in the stores.
    Now that my full time job requires me to work weekends, I’m not with NCiM. I have the NCiM demo table, NCiM apron and NCiM black baseball cap that I am selling in the Los Angeles area at a significant discount. If anyone who is starting up wants to buy them please contact me at All of these items are in perfect condition.

    Jim Donnelly

  32. Kris August 19, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    Thanks for the details on this. I have always been a promo “model” or ambassador for event companies that do this and just recently got hired directly for a brand to be their brand ambassador. If you have prior experience it’s a great side job. And I will be demoing in retail chains. But the pay you listed is surprising and I hope it’s gone up since 2011. I make $20/HR and of course taxes not taken out but still for an 8 hour shift a few days a week that is great money. Almost equal to my salary job where I worked sometimes 60-80 hr weeks. Look into it!

  33. Cynthia keasler December 9, 2019 at 6:11 PM

    I’m looking for employment as a sample paster outer, I’m good with the public.I have no problem starting a conversation. I am a people person. I also like to travel and I do a lot of it. Thank you for your time