I couldn’t be more proud of my good friend Melvin Pickens tonight. He showed how people with handicaps can overcome huge odds and work hard with a positive attitude and do amazing things in their life. At age 81 Melvin is still working hard. Not many people know that he is a cancer survivor too. He always had a great politeness about him but he is persistent too and I think that came through in the interview tonight.
On the Road: 81-year-old salesman sweeps customers off their feet
Published on Sep 20, 2013
As part of our continuing series “On the Road,” Steve Hartman meets an 81-year-old salesman who’s been in business for over six decades selling one simple product that everyone needs.
September 20, 2013 7:27 PM
(CBS News) LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Do you need a new broom? A lot of folks who don’t think they do wind up buying one anyway from the man we met…”on the road.”
“Yeah, I’m doing real good this morning,” said Melvin Pickens, who, at 81, doesn’t need to work. Being legally blind, he never had to work much.
But Melvin still works — as a traveling salesman. “I just can’t sit around and not do nothing,” he explained.
/ CBS News
With the help of a caretaker friend, Melvin goes around to businesses in Little Rock, Arkansas, asking the owners and their customers to buy one of his brooms. That’s basically all he sells — $10 brooms.
“I’d say about 20-25 years,” said Melvin of the number of years he’s been doing this. “Well, I’m just estimating.
However, it may be that Melvin is estimating way off because we heard he’s been doing this 63 years. “It’s hard to say,” said Melvin. “I’ve been doing it so long.”
According to family, Melvin started selling brooms around 1950 and worked six days a week to support his wife and their four children. His wife has since died and the kids are grown, but that work ethic just will not go away.
In fact, some people say he’s the best salesman they’ve ever seen. “He’s got a special magic about him,” said one customer.
/ CBS News
“You just can hardly turn him down,” said another.
Not that people don’t try to say no — they just rarely get away with it.
“I don’t need one today because I’ve already got one,” Mary Clare Brierley told Melvin. “But I may need one next week.”
“You know what, you ought to just buy today,” Melvin told her. “I might not see you next week.”
“I don’t think you can approach him and not buy one,” Brierley later told us.
She got one and so did another person. At this point, Little Rock has got to be the best swept city in America or maybe just one the kindest.
Or maybe people here simply like having him around as a living example.
“You can’t quit,” said Melvin. “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits, you know.”
To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.
Lots of people across the USA are wondering what red handle broom Melvin Pickens sells in Little Rock and it is the Airlight made by Little Rock Broom Works! There is a website, http://www.theairlightbroom.com that tells all about the Airlight Broom. Melvin’s family has set up an email for Melvin for those who want brooms and it is Melvinthebroomman@gmail.com . Below is more details from KTHV’s website on how to order the Airlight Broom.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Melvin “The Broom Man” Pickens has been getting some extra attention these days. While business owners and visitors to The Heights and Hillcrest areas of Little Rock have been loyal customers for many years, local and national media attention over the last couple of months has put his locally-famous brooms in much higher demand.
Now, for folks who can’t make it to The Heights and Hillcrest, there are options for you to get your hands on a Broom Man broom.
Shipmates Postal in Little Rock has agreed to sell and brooms and mops for The Broom Man. Folks can stop by and purchase them from the store or arrange for them to be shipped.
Previous THV Stories on The Broom Man:
Finding The Broom Man: Where is he now? (http://on.kthv.com/11aTacp)
CBS’ Steve Hartman in Little Rock to feature The Broom Man (http://on.kthv.com/18cegbw)
Former Razorback Football Coach Ken Hatfield speaks at First Bapt Little Rock May 4, 2011 (Part 1, mentions Branch Rickey and Don McClanen)
This is the pregame broadcast of the Arkansas-Texas game at Razorback Stadium in 1985. It features both the Razorback and Lonhorn bands and the 1964 punt return by Ken Hatfield. I got to hear former Arkansas Razorback Football Coach Ken Hatfield speak and it was very encouraging and enjoyable. The “Zone Luncheon” is held the […]