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History of the Fuller Brush Man Who Sold His Products Door to Door

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, especially those honoring Veterans.

Your Friendly Fuller Brush Salesman is Knocking at your Door

The Fuller Brush Man

The Fuller Brush Man

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

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 selling products today with stores like Lowe's and Home Depot featuring their items as well as grocery and hardware stores. A check of eBay revealed over 1,000 items up for bid or purchase. The day of the door-to-door salesman has almost vanished.

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 featuring Lucille Ball and Eddie Albert called 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.

First Line "Frying Pan Song"

"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"

Song About a Man's Wife Who Ran Off with the Fuller Brush Man!

Is the Fuller Brush Company Still Around?

In February, 2012, the Fuller Brush Company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In December, 2012, Victory Park Capital bought the company out of its bankruptcy. The headquarters were moved from Kansas to California.

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Share Your Comments or Memories About the Fuller Brush Man

BJ Johnson on December 25, 2012:

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 www.fullerdirect.com/0767128 click contact to become a distributor.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on February 25, 2012:

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

Thelma

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on February 25, 2012:

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

Up-useful-interesting.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on November 14, 2011:

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

Thelma

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on November 13, 2011:

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

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on June 20, 2011:

Thanks for taking the time to post your kind words!

Claudia Smaletz from East Coast on June 20, 2011:

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

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on June 14, 2011:

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

Thelma

JSParker from Detroit, Michigan on June 14, 2011:

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.