Back in the day, the salesman selling steel kitchen cabinets would actually come to your house. He would carry with him a briefcase. Inside: An entire kit full of little kitchen cabinets that could be assembled to create the kitchen of Mrs. America’s dreams. In the very early days of my research to recreate my vintage kitchen, I scored a Republic Steel Kitchen salesman’s kit on ebay — and it’s extra special, because it includes the large, full-color, spiral bound ‘easel brochure’ — 34 pages! — too. I can’t believe I never showed this wonderful steel kitchen cabinet salesman’s kit on the blog before — it’s fantastic!
Above: This salesman’s sample and selling kit must have cost Republic Kitchens a fortune to produce. Inside the kit, all the little cabinets. There is a refrigerator… a range… several sink bases in different sizes… doors…. windows… base cabinets… wall cabinets…. and corner cubbies, both wall and base. “My salesman” magic-markered where each cabinet should go. My kit appears to be quite complete.
Above: The back of each Republic ‘cabinet’ is marked with its size. Each little piece corresponds with an actual cabinet that you could order. Note, ironicallyish, the leetle cabinets are made of plastic, not steel.
Above: There is a measuring tape that came with the kit. As part of the at-home selling process, the salesman would measure the homeowner’s kitchen so that with them, he could mock up their dream kitchen using the pieces in the kit.
Above: A quickie kitchen design I made for this photo shoot… I actually used this set to help design my own kitchen and imagine how it would flow. At various times when I’ve had people … reporters, photographers … come to the house to see the kitchen, I also would set this Republic set up — and they were just as fascinated with it as with my actual kitchen!
Above: There were five designs of Formica in the kit. I presume that Republic wanted to sell you the counter top, too. According to Grace Jeffers‘ master’s degree thesis, this pattern — Moonglo — was introduced on Sept. 27, 1948 at the Third National Plastics Exposition in New York city. It was conceived by designer Morris Sanders before World War II, but not brought to market until after. It was available in six colors — gray, tan, yellow, fiesta (the red you see above) and blue. Grace says that the pattern remained in the Formica collection until the later half of the 1950s. She says that the pattern mimics fiberglass, a popular leitmotif of the postwar era. I love that word — “leitmotif”. I need to use it more often!
In the kit I purchased, there were four pieces of Formica. The other was a gray Mother of Pearl — a super popular pattern. The kit instructions say it came with five Formica samples. I do not know what the fifth would have been — I will guess, one more color of either of these two designs, likely that Republic would feature the most popular palettes.
Above: At the very end of the presentation deck, there is a special section just for the salesman to read. It instructs him exactly how to conduct the in-house sales meeting… how to use the kit… and how to complete the follow-up driving toward the sale. My favorite little tidbit:
1. You dissatisfy your prospect with her present kitchen … by showing her examples of efficient, beautiful kitchens and problem-solving ideas…
Tee hee. American marketeers haven’t changed a bit. Except that instead of buying new kitchen cabinets made today…. I’m buying salesman sample kits. This is actually just one of four in my collection. I also own a set like this for Youngstown Steel kitchen cabinets — no big color presentation brochure, though. I own a much less complex “Plan your kitchen kit” that was sold or given away by Con Edison. And, one of my favorite finds is an old wood-block set of Curtis Kitchen cabinet models.
These days, there are usually one or two of these kits (various manufacturers) on ebay. They have become pretty expensive — $250 for a kit seems to be a going rate. However, most kits do not have the easel presentation, at least whenever I check the status of current auction inventory. *Nananananana dance.* I hope you enjoyed this one!
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