Man's hand pressing a door bell, selling door to door

I remember when the Fuller Brush man used to visit Grandma Jennie. She bought all of her brooms and mops from him as well as dishcloths and linens. She liked to look at the samples he brought and browse the catalog for new products. The items he sold door to door were always of good quality and lasted a long time.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a lot of people sold products door to door. Before the days of the internet and online shopping, it appealed to many women who worked at home as housewives, who found it a convenient way to shop without leaving the house.

In addition to products from the Fuller Brush Company, people used to sell items like vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias door to door. My great aunt, for example, sold my parents our set of World Book Encyclopedias. And Grandma Jennie sold Avon beauty products. I used to really like looking at the new perfumes and skincare products she displayed on her sideboard by the front door.

Recently, I purchased some products from a co-worker who sold Avon. I enjoyed the nostalgia of buying from an “Avon lady” and I was happy to help her make a few extra dollars. It was also super convenient. It saved me time and the gas I would use driving to the store, making this a more sustainable way to shop.

Today, I no longer see people selling door to door. And very few of us would welcome uninvited salespeople coming to our homes — especially with a pandemic going on! But if we have friends or family selling items we may need — like my co-worker selling Avon products — why not take advantage of the opportunity? We can help them earn some income and it’s probably more sustainable than shopping online from big box stores. Think of all the packaging and gasoline we can save by bypassing those deliveries!

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.