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Fuller Brush Man: 70 years and counting
After 70 years and counting, Arthur Pearson reigns as the oldest active Fuller Brush salesman.
The Fuller Brush Man was an American icon in the 1940s and 1950s — catering to housewives of the "June Cleaver" era by selling cleaning supplies, brushes, brooms, mops and more.
"Anything to clean the house with, we have it," Pearson said from his room at Foundation House in Federal Way.
As the Puget Sound region's lone Fuller Brush Man, Pearson maintains contact with thousands of loyal customers. He makes deliveries about once a week with the help of his son, Ken Pearson, who drives. Most of Pearson's customers live in the Normandy Park and Burien areas.
Several high-profile media outlets have caught wind of Pearson's accomplishment. Aside from articles in local media and the Los Angeles Times, both TV host Jay Leno and Fox News have expressed interest in highlighting Pearson's career, his son said. Pearson noted that the recent media attention hasn't helped his business.
Impeccably dressed in a red tie, white shirt and blue blazer, Pearson reiterated the importance of professional attire.
"You have to be like a businessman to your customers," he said, holding a toilet brush the size of a frying pan, an award from the Fuller Brush company. "You don't want to look like a bum when customers see you."
A key to decades of success in sales has been proper management of time and money.
"If you can't manage either, you'll never survive in the business," he said.
Pearson recalls one stretch in the 1960s when he pocketed about $100 a day for more than 300 consecutive days — which was good money at the time. Until recently, Pearson averaged a few grand per month, he said.
Born and raised in the Seattle area, Pearson is a former U.S. Marine who served in World War II. He will mark his 91st birthday on April 30. Pearson is also an avid traveler, logging more than 100,000 miles aboard Holland America Line cruise ships.