By 1955, Hammacher Schlemmer completely discontinues the sale of hardware in favor of more upscale merchandise with the renewed emphasis on being the "first" to offer the "Unexpected." However, luxury was not the only criteria, rather, 98-percent of the items on Hammacher Schlemmer's shelves are functional, unusual and known for their novelty, such as The Coffee Cooler and Reclino Specs. Sadly, this same year, Else Schlemmer dies, bequeathing $473,000 to her employees.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, sparking the beginnings of the national civil rights movement. That same year, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends the first U.S. advisors to South Vietnam.
In the same year that Hammacher Schelmmer introduces the public to the first Electric Toothbrush, we offered rhinestone pet collars for $1.10 per inch with matching clip-on earrings for $7.50 a pair.
In 1953 Else Schlemmer sold the business (marking the end of the Hammacher and Schlemmer families' involvement) to a group of investors who proved to be unsuccessful in comprehending the unique appeal of Hammacher Schlemmer. So, they in turn sold the company to John Gerald in 1955. Gerald vowed to restore customer care and return the company to its carriage trade roots. This magazine advertisement-an open letter to customers-pictures Gerald with our familiar mascots, the gnomes Hammacher and Schlemmer.
Perhaps a sign of the times, the design of our Spring supplement is atypical with its simple cover illustration dominated by our name in large type. "Your House Deserves The Finest" declares the opening spread and Hammacher Schlemmer is stocked with six full floors of housewares to "fill the need of every homemaker, please the most discriminating guest. Imaginative...useful, they will open a new vista in living."