Knock...Knock, Who's There?...The Fuller Brush Man - History of the Fuller Brush Co.
Your Friendly Fuller Brush Salesman is Knocking at your Door
The Bygone Days of Door-to-Door Selling
Much has changed in the world of sales since the knock on your door may have been your friendly Fuller Brush salesman! While you may still see a salesman carrying a bag of goods on his shoulder to sell to the public, they are few and far between. The days of the Avon Lady and encyclopedia salesman going door-to-door have given way to Internet sales, appointment setters calling first to make an appointment and literature distribution.
Fuller Brush Company in History
In 1906, Alfred Carl Fuller was a 21 year old in Nova Scotia with the idea of creating a hairbrush with a lifetime guarantee. This product became the basis for his sales concept of going to consumers homes to let them feel, touch and try the brush. Once they realized the quality and durability compared to others on the market in that day, the sale was easily made. That hairbrush became the claim to fame for the Fuller Brush Company.
Laws Prevent Door-to-Door Selling Today
The Green River Ordinance, adopted by many cities in the US, prohibits door-to-door solicitation by political, non-profit, and religious groups if a "No Trespassing" or "No Solicitations" sign is posted. Salesmen must obtain permission from the homeowner before knocking on their door. The ordinance is named for Green River, Wyoming which was the first city to adopt it in 1931. It has been challenged before the US Supreme Court on several occasions including an unsuccessful lawsuit by the Fuller Brush Company in 1932.
Availability of Products
The Fuller Brush Co. byline is "cleaning, polishing and protecting homes and businesses since 1906". The company is still going strong today with stores like Lowes and Home Depot featuring their products as well as grocery and hardware stores. A check of Ebay revealed over 1,000 items up for bid or purchase.
Song About a Man's Wife Who Ran Off with the Fuller Brush Man!
Fuller Brush Man a Cultural Icon in the 1940s and 1950s
Hollywood was intrigued with the idea of the door-to-door salesman and filmed movies such as "Fuller Brush Man", a 1948 comedy starring Red Skelton and a 1950 comedy starring Lucille Ball and Eddie Albert called "The Fuller Brush Girl".
In 1933, Disney produced an academy award winning version of "Three Little Pigs" in which the Big Bad Wolf disguised himself as a Fuller Brush salesman.
The music world also paid tribute to the cultural icon when James McMurtry released a song titled "Fuller Brush Man" in 1995. But nothing compares with the lyrics of a 1972 song by John Prine called "The Frying Pan" that begins with the line, "I came home from work this evening, there was a note in the frying pan, it said cook your own supper babe, I've run off with the Fuller Brush Man"!
Fuller Brush Company Has Filed Bankruptcy - What Will Happen to the Fuller Brush Man?
In February, 2012, the Fuller Brush Company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the future of the Fuller Brush Man is uncertain.
© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone
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