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Knock...Knock, Who's There?...The Fuller Brush Man - History of the Fuller Brush Co.

Updated on February 1, 2015
ThelmaC profile image

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics. She is working on her first fiction novel.

Your Friendly Fuller Brush Salesman is Knocking at your Door

The Fuller Brush Man
The Fuller Brush Man | Source

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.

Original Fuller Brush Company Plant in Hartford, Connecticut in 1920s
Original Fuller Brush Company Plant in Hartford, Connecticut in 1920s | Source

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

Please Share Your Comments or Memories About the Fuller Brush Man

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      BJ Johnson 4 years ago

      Hello everyone, great Fuller Brush education. I have been a Fuller Brush man for about 12yrs now and people are very shocked when I approach them with product. We are trying to keep the legend alive;-) we appreciate your support. Feel free to view our new inventory on-line click contact to become a distributor.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Ann thanks for taking the time to read my hub and respond. I enjoy following you!


    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Well Hello Thelma! Stopped by to check you out, and I'm glad I did. A cheerful hub. Brought back memories of the FBM at my front door. Actually, I have a hairbrush I'm still using. Natural bristle. It lives up to it's name.

      Enjoyed the research on it. Have a great weekend. Ann


    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks for your nice comments. Glad you enjoyed my hub. I look forward to reading more of yours.


    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Nice to meet you, Thelma. I remember the Fuller Brush man, lol. Great Hub - rated up and shared.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks for taking the time to post your kind words!

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 6 years ago from East Coast

      Welcome to hubpages. I liked your Fuller Brush Man article. I had no idea Fuller Brush products were still available.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Thanks JSParker for the nice comments. I look forward to being "hub friends" with you.


    • JSParker profile image

      JSParker 6 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      ThelmaC, I enjoyed your hub! I would have anyway, but actually remembering a Fuller Brush man at the door made it even more fun. Voted funny! Times sure have changed, as the saying goes. I think this was a great idea for a hub, and I enjoyed learning a lot of new things about the topic. Regards.