Who’s That Knocking at My Door?

Cash was more comfortable singing a ditty than selling a dishwasher.

By Andy Kriege, YSN

If you happened to be a stay-at-home mom back in the day, you would likely remember a number of door-to-door salesmen coming to your house.

Typically dressed in suits and ties, these men peddled a vast array of household goods including brushes, vacuum cleaners, and yes, even appliances. While major appliances were not sold door-to-door as commonly as floor care, they were occasionally pedaled in this fashion.

One of the most famous to attempt selling appliances door-to-door was none other than the legendary Johnny Cash. Fresh out of the Air Force and recently married with a baby on the way, he set out for Memphis in 1954, looking to make his mark. His family’s hunger dictated that he find work fast, and his older brother Ray managed to land him a job selling appliances door-to-door for the Memphis-based Home Equipment Co.  

At the ripe old age of 22 he was not much into selling anything, much less home appliances, which he knew little about. In fact, his oldest daughter, Rosanne Cash, recently remarked about her famous father’s selling prowess, or lack thereof.

“He was the single-worst appliance salesman there ever lived,” she recalled. “He once walked up to a door where a housewife answered, and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘You don’t want to buy anything, do you?’”

Cash never did sell a whole lot of appliances, preferring to hang out on the street and listen to his car radio instead of knocking on doors. But as fate would have it, his boss at the Home Equipment Co. realized he had more of a penchant for singing than selling, and loaned Cash the cash to pursue his dream, even sponsoring a small-time radio show featuring Johnny and his bandmates, The Tennessee Two.

Without the support of his appliance-pitching employer, who knows if the world would have ever walked the line with the country legend.

Although he sold more than 90 million albums over the course of his illustrious career, Cash couldn’t sell a top mount to save his life. That gives bragging rights to all of you hard-working appliance salespeople, who can forever boast that you have upstaged the one and only Man in Black.

 YSN is published by AVB Inc., parent company of the BrandSource buying group.