Defunct (Or Transformed) Door-To-Door General Sales Companies

I think I was born (1971) close to the end of the door-to-door general sales era, since I do remember the salesmen coming with their little basket of samples, but that ended well before I was a teenager.

I’m talking about companies like Jewel Tea. According to the link, they did, indeed, phase out the door-to-door division in 1981. I wasn’t aware that they had a chain of supermarkets, as well…they aren’t in our area, that I know of.

All I know is that it was endlessly fascinating to visually rummage through the Jewel Tea man’s basket while he talked to my mother.

I’m sure there were other companies that had the same sales model. Share your memories.

I only know of the Fuller Brush company through references in TV, movie, and Radio. (Red Skelton memorably starred inthe 1948 movie The Fuller Brush Man I was sure it had vanished long ago.

Imagine my surprise to find it still active. I stumbled across an outlet store among the other outlets in Kittery Maine, where they sell a variety of brushes and cleaning products, many of them not easily available elsewhere. we use our tabletop crumb-=cleaning brush daily:

Fuller Brush was still using salesmen when I was growing up. My mother would occasionally buy for them.

Avon also sold cosmetics door-to-door, though their sales force was housewives who would call on their friends. Now it’s more with parties and retail.

I DO remember the Fuller Brush man coming by our house when I was young. And… horrors! My mother actually let him inside! Of course, those were the days when the mailman carried a leather bag and walked his route. He had green mailboxes where the next set of mail was stored. We all knew him and actually spoke.

Our insurance man used to come by regularly, too. I don’t remember details, but he was a regular visitor to the house. No one gave it a though.

I don’t remember anyone else coming up to the door, but we had a bakery truck - it was fascinating. The guy opened the back doors and slid out drawers full of freshly baked goodies.

Of course, those were also the days when dairies delivered milk in bottles. Oh! And the Good Humor man drove his ice cream truck down the street, with the music playing to get children’s attention.

Good times!

Didn’t the rise of the two-working-parent household kinda kill this off?

Kirby Vacuum still sells only through in-home demonstrations. I bought mine from a guy knocking doors 10 years ago, and tried selling for Kirby recently. It takes a special breed of human to do door-to-door sales.

My mother sold World Book Encyclopedias during the 50s and 60s. I don’t remember whether she actually went door-to-door or had leads for possible customers. She may have been given a list of families that had kids of certain ages. Sometimes she brought me along, so she could show people how smart I was, thanks to our set of World Books. I had read every volume, cover-to-cover, often staying up all night reading. This was as much a case of insomnia as a quest for knowledge on my part.

I remember in the 60s guys stopping by selling brooms and pencils. Also Watkins products–remember that movie with William H. Macy? I think it was called “Door to Door”. I also remember the Charles Chips trucks and Amway.

In about 1984 I gave selling Kirby a try. My mentor was a fat balding guy in a plaid sport coat named Charlie Brown (the guy, not the coat) who drove an AMC Pacer. I lasted a week.