Thursday, July 31, 2014

Avon Calling

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Does anyone remember visits from the Avon Lady?

The local lady carrying the big black bag filled with treasures was a highly anticipated event in the life of this pre-teen girl. During summer vacation from school, I was allowed to sit with mother while the Avon lady dramatically opened her bag and showed mother all the newest products.

We never knew exactly when she was coming, but when she arrived Mrs. Verta parked her old Dodge in the driveway and stepped out immaculately decked out. Always in high heels and stockings, her hair carefully coiffed and face made up perfectly, she seemed the perfect representative for a cosmetics company. I was most intrigued with the large black product bag tossed over her shoulder

Whatever work was in progress -- inside or outside the house -- stopped when Mrs. Verta arrived. Sissy and I were allowed to sit alongside mother while the Avon lady removed one bottle or tube after the other, allowing us to sample or sniff.

I don't recall that mother ever visited a department store cosmetic counter back in those days. Why would she? Avon had everything she needed. Rich Moisure Cream, Skin So Soft Bubble Bath and hand cream were the standard purchases, along with To A Wild Rose and Here's My Heart bath powder, soaps and spray cologne.

When I became interested in make-up, I got my first samples from Mrs. Verta. And during those tender years I thought Here's My Heart in the beautiful blue bottle was the epitomy of grown-upness.

As a teenager I lost interest in Avon and wanted cosmetics from the drugstore. Max Factor pancake makeup, Windsong cologne, Revlon lipstick.

Avon is, of course, still around today. Representatives no longer make house calls in these days of Internet shopping. I occasionally see their product brochures in beauty shops and other places of business. Avon ladies are still around; but there are no longer any Mrs. Vertas.

*****

The company was established more than 120 years ago. Becoming a representative offered a unique way for women to take control of their lives and move toward economic independence at a time before before women even had the right to vote and when most were expected to remain within the home rather than going out and earning a living.

It also was a way women living in rural or remote areas had a way of purchasing beauty products without having to travel into the towns.

In 1954 the famous "ding-dong, Avon calling" ad was first heard on US television. Below is an ad from 1962.



The company has an interesting history, which you can read about here.

Did the "Avon Lady" ever visit you?



20 comments:

  1. I still get the occasional catalog through my door, sadly. I just don't buy that much make up these days, though I did recently buy some Skin-so-soft after reading it was good against midgies (fierce Scottish version of mosquitoes). We're packing up and heading for midgie country today - I'm itching already... My best friend in grade school was Mary Lou (I think we were closer to frenemies, looking back). Her mother Lola was an Avon lady. We got to play with her spare samples and we'd be 'beauty chemists' and make terrible messes mixing lotions and powders, but boy did they smell wonderful!

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    1. Is Skin So Soft really effective against Mosquitos? Have heard both yes and no. Seems most everyone has some memory of Avon.

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    2. Have since read that Scottish midges or midgies are not actually mosquitoes, but the one time I encountered them the Skin so Soft seemed to work. On the other hand I've also read that bugs prefer blood with loads of sugar in it and I don't eat much sugar, but I'm not sure how scientific all that is. Just glad I didn't get bit!

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  2. A super post Sanda,
    I remember the first time the Avon lady, came to my sisters house.
    I was around 13..on a visit home from Africa.
    My sister bought me a compact box of all kinds of lovely creams and cologne.. it was magic. We have a girl in our village that still sells it. I buy something once in a while.. I think its a great product. The marketing strategy behind the concept so many years ago.. was remarkable.
    I cannot remember the name of my first cologne.. but what a lovely smell.
    val xxx

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    1. Avon fragrances really were strong. I don't believe they still make the two ones I mentioned as my first scents. Everything changes. It was a remarkable marketing strategy.

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  3. Hello Sanda

    Great memories of a product from a more romantic time. I do remember the cream perfumes and the smells were divine. Probably our sense of smell at a young age was stronger too.
    Hope your summer is joyful

    Helen xx

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    Replies
    1. I saw an Avon catalogue some time back and now they sell everything. Clothes jewelry etc. the cream perfumes seemed the best to me too. Enjoy your summerHelen.

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  4. Fun memories. We never had an Avon lady when I was growing up but one did visit a handful of times when I was a young married. When I was working one of the employees there sold Avon. Like Shelly, I liked Skin So Soft for the idea that it repelled mosquitoes. Funny, I was just thinking about it the other day and wishing I had some. I haven't seen an Avon Lady in years though.

    Darla

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    Replies
    1. I doubt they make house calls any more. Times change so much. Now they just leave catalogues here and there and take orders over the internet.

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    2. Mother quit making house calls after people started placing orders but then refusing to pay once she brought the goodies. Sad. Now I sometimes see Avon catalogs in workplace break rooms and shared among friends.

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  5. Was the Avon lady´s house call like the Tupperware parties?
    I know that we had them over here too, but I have never been in one, none in my childhood home. Sigh.
    Once again, an interesting description from the olden days. You indeed master these stories!!

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    1. Not like Tupperware parties. The Avon lady made a one on one call whereas with Tupperware there was an assembled group of invited guests in a home and the Tupperware lady came and demonstrated the products for the group. With the Avon lady you felt special because she came to your front door and she gave you her undivided attention. Love remembering these old times!

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  6. Great memories, Sanda. I don't remember the Avon lady as a child, but like Darla remember it from when a young married. At that stage it was my only source of makeup, and I loved the little gift items too. I remember a particular lipstick, a mauve/pink, to which I was addicted! Great post, Sanda.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Back then I don't remember that there were many brands even in the department store where we shopped. I remember Charles of the Ritz, Alexandra de Markoff and Guerlain. Maybe a few more whose names I don't recall. But nothing like the plethora of brands today. Also there were the stand alone stores such as Vivian Woodard and Merle Norman. Still a MN store in my town.

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  7. My mother was an Avon Lady! It was sooo much fun seeing the samples of new products. I remember "Here's My Heart" and Skin So Soft and To a Wild Rose. I remember Topaz. It seemed so exotic. All the bottles were so different and all so pretty :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Lucky you, having all those samples to play with as a little/young girl. I remember Topaz, too! It did seem "grown up" and I recall it was in a deep yellow bottle. Good memories.

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    2. I kept my To a Wild Rose bath powder box for _ages_ but I looked and don't still have it. It was so pretty. They seemed to make such attractive containers for the products. I see Avon perfume bottles in antique malls sometimes.

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  8. Vaguely heard of the Avon products,how smart they must have looked in their red suits,especially envy the personal service they offered.Yikes now I find it a nightmare when you see all the different brands on offer toooo many choices!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like visiting the cosmetics counters AT ALL. Too confusing; salesladies usually too pushy. Recently there's a man salesperson at the Clarins counter. I can't get used to that!

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