That there can be small companies that make just a few products and stay independent is evidenced by Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing. The company was born in the 1880s, when a traveling salesman name Al Stewart carried around a family concoction. He sold the rights to a fellow named Luther Ford in 1883, or thereabouts, and the company was officially in business. The son Allyn took over in the1920s; it was such a popular product that it was made in factories in Portland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Pasadena and in Winnipeg,
The product is still made; Mrs. Stewart has changed. According to a history on the website, one time they tried to change it:
On the advice of an advertising agency in the early 1970s, the “stern granny” look of Mrs. Stewart on the label was replaced with the pleasant face of a silver-haired, “with it” looking, wrinkle-free, smiling woman in a stylish hairdo. Consumers went on a rampage! A flood of mail came in from all across North America wanting Mrs. Stewart back!
It should be a case study for all of us; if you have a good thing, don’t let some advertising creeps screw it all up so they can bill you for some busy work!
The bluing has all sorts of uses, including to whiten pools, clean crystal, detect car leaks and even to grow water crystals.