DARKE COUNTY — Linda Mikesell Schatz of Greenville and Dolores Bowman of Union City, Ohio, have been salesladies for many years and want their customers know they are “still on the loose.”
Schatz has been selling Avon products for nearly 45 years and Bowman has been selling Tupperware products for 40 years. Both products are popular for women; Avon to beautify them and Tupperware to make their homes more organized.
Avon has been around since 1886, when David H. McConnell founded the California Perfume Company, which would become Avon, in New York City. As an unsuccessful book salesman, he had concocted a rose-scented perfume as a “free gift” to encourage people to buy his books. The perfume was so popular, McConnell decided to abandon the book business and start a perfume company instead.
In 1897, McConnell built the California Perfume Company’s first factory in Suffern, New York, which was conveniently located alongside railroad tracks for easy access to ship his products. After his death in 1937, his son took over the family business. The company changed its name to Avon in 1939 in honor of Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-on-Avon.
Tupperware is the name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home. It also includes plastic containers used to store goods and/or food. In 1942, Earl Tupper developed his first bell-shaped container; the brand products were introduced to the public in 1948.
Schatz said she got into Avon through a former neighbor lady, Louann Boyer, who with her husband owned Bish and Boyer Trailer Court.
“Louann was like a second mom to me,” Schatz recalled. “I started selling Avon for her and, probably a year later, went to work at Fram in 1971. I was selling a lot of it and my husband said I should sell it on my own. Louann said she was going to quit and gave me all of her customers.”
That turned out to be a wise decision for Schatz to make.
“I’ve always been in the President’s Club,” she said. “I am still number one out of a lot of women. I have about 50 customers, but it used to be 100 before the economy started going bad.”
Avon, she said, is still popular.
“It is a very good product,” she said. “It stands behind itself. If something gets broken, we replace it. We sell everything…clothes, lots of jewelry, women’s, children’s and men’s products and bath and body.”
Schatz became acquainted with Bowman when she too took a stab at selling Tupperware.
“I had a Tupperware lady, Lura Supinger, who quit selling and she told me about Dolores,” Schatz said. “Dolores and I got to be good friends. I don’t have parties like I used to but I would always go to Dolores when anybody wanted Tupperware. I was a Tupperware lady in the 1960s. I also sold Rubbermaid on my own, but I still liked Avon, because there was something new and I never got tired of it.”
Schatz is planning an Avon open house at her home on Martin Street today and on Saturday.
“I usually do pretty well,” she said. “I don’t send out invitations. Anyone can come.”
Schatz believes she is the oldest Avon dealer in Greenville now.
What does she say the most popular Avon product is?
“They’re all popular. I sell a lot of everything,” replied Schatz, who turned 77 on Sept. 7.
Popular fragrances of the old scents are Night Magic, Timeless, Sweet Honest and Candid, while Black Suede and Wild Country are the most popular in men’s colognes.
Schatz worked at various places throughout the years, most of the time while still selling Avon.
“I worked at the Hamburger Shop 53 years ago for a year and a half,” she said. “I worked at Toby’s Drive-In’ Carl Hupe’s grocery store; the Country Club; and Big’s John’s Pizza.”
She worked at Fram for a total of 37 years and retired Nov. 1, 2001.
“I have gotten to know a lot of people through Avon and Fram,” she said. “I sold at Family Health, the courthouse, Greenville National Bank, Second National Bank and a lot of other businesses. One time it was funny. I was on the third floor elevator in the courthouse when this girl, Linda Jones, who worked in the Veterans Office, got in saw my bag of Avon and said she needed the perfume Sonnet. She always then ordered from me.”
Bowman said it was her daughter, Alice, who got her involved in Tupperware.
“Alice had signed up to work in Tupperware under Charla Holsapple when Alice was barely 18,” Bowman said. “Alice got a prize if she signed up a recruit and guess who was that recruit. Then Alice got married.”
Bowman stayed on and subsequently became a manager. She goes to the Great Darke County Fair every year and sets up in the Coliseum with the help of her husband, Kenny, brother-in-law Steve, friend Sheri Thompson and daughter Annette.
“Avon gave me a Ford Fairlane station wagon that I got to keep one year,” Bowman said. “Kenny said there has to be a hitch somewhere, but they handed me the keys. They paid for the car, including insurance, and all I had to do was pay for gas and oil. I had a total of 21 cars but none since 10 years ago. You can get those cars if you are a VIP, which I was. I won several years in a row and got a new car every year…an executive car.”
“We use to ride to Dayton together in the Tupperware car,” said Schatz.
Bowman said one of her new products now is the big bowl.
“It holds 59 cups…half a bushel,” she said.
She admitted it is hard to book parties anymore, but indicated that Kathy Walters helps a lot.
Schatz, the former Linda Roth, is a 1957 graduate of Franklin Monroe High School. Her first husband, Ralph Mikesell, died 32 years ago, and her second husband, Bill Schatz, died five years ago.
Bowman, the former Dolores Hartzell, graduated from Jackson High School [now Mississinawa Valley] in 1952.
“I was the class president and class valedictorian,” Bowman said. “I was born to be in sales, I worked for Hunchbarger Corner Grocery Store starting in sixth grade and before school all summer through high school. I got on my bike and sold Rosebud Salve, a healing salve. I loved to talk and visit old ladies in the area where I was raised.”
“I sold that salve, too,” said Schatz in amazement. “I worked for my Grandpa Trick’s food market every summer and we would make hot pads and sell them.”
Both women said their income from their respective sales supplemented the family income.
“I had five kids at home,” said Schatz.
She is the mother of Kathy Fantasia, Gene Mikesell, Jana Dowler, Todd Mikesell and Susan Jones and is a grandmother to 10 and great-grandmother to five.
Yes, Tupperware also supplemented the Bowman family’s income.
“Kenny was self-employed barber,” she said. “I had worked at Westinghouse for 4 1/2 years so that the family could have insurance.”
The Bowmans will be celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary on Oct. 5, 2017. She turned 82 on Oct. 1.
The Bowmans have six children, Rudy, Rick, Alice Collins, Annette Randall, Rusty and Royce, as well as 18 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.
Both women get involved in the community. Schatz is a member of the Red Hat Society and the Trinity Wesleyan Church in Greenville all of her life, and Bowman is a member of DayStar Grace Brethren Church in Union City.
What makes a successful salesperson?
“You have to be honest, trustworthy and friendly,” Schatz replied.
“You have to love what you do and represent the company that will stand behind you,” Bowman added.
“Yes, with Avon, it’s the same way.”
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