Thread Number: 11611
Geographic Distribution (USA) of vacuum makes/models
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Post# 124956   2/14/2011 at 19:39 (4,755 days old) by kubvan1 ()        

I guess this post could go in either the vintage or contemporary forum, or even Off Topic, but I'll put it here for now.
Just wondering if certain models or makes of vacuums had fairly localized distribution, meaning US states or regions (not considering imported brands or distribution outside the USA)
I am curious, as certain models from a major manufacturer, such as the Hoover Constellation seem to have enjoyed enormous popularity over a long period, yet they are virtually impossible to find in my area of Pennsylvania. This is confirmed by a lot of non-collectors that I have asked. None have ever seen a Constellation, not even the local vacuum shop in business for 50+ years.

On the other hand, I have seen a few posts by people who have never seen an Air-Way in person, a brand which I would assume had a narrower national distribution.
Strangely enough, I have found quite a number of Air-Ways in my area, many still in use and not for sale.
The only thing I can think of is that there was an Air-Way dealer serving Southeastern PA at some point.

Really curious as to why some machines just never seem to turn up in some areas.
(and not necessarily just the vacuums that were marketed primarily door-to-door)

Doug Eisemann

Post# 124957 , Reply# 1   2/14/2011 at 20:02 (4,755 days old) by bagintheback (Flagstaff, Arizona)        

bagintheback's profile picture
Well, like you said, I have never seen an Air-way in person. I've never seen one on craigslist or a vacuum shop. However, my mom has a friend whos family lives in the state and says they have always used Electroluxs. She has shown me 3 of them that were a family member's at one point. And I see quite a lot of Electroluxs (mostly in bad shape) for sale around here. Same with Kirbys.

My grandma who lived in the mid-west said her family always used Hoovers, and she still does!

Post# 124963 , Reply# 2   2/14/2011 at 20:31 (4,755 days old) by djtaylor (Salt Lake City, Utah)        
Lots of one, few of another.

djtaylor's profile picture
In Utah we have always had a lot of Kirby, Electrolux, Rainbow, Filter Queen, Compact/Tri Star, Royal and Thermax... Basically, the door to door machines. Also, since Sears has always had a big presence here we have tons of Kenmore and Singer. But the other 'high end' vacs have only been hit and miss. Hoover and Eureka were always big here, too. Now days we have all the cheepy stuff by the ton. The locals are REALLY, REALLY CHEEP. Vac Shops are losing money in Utah. It is very sad. People would rather buy a POS every year rather than get something that will last. And forget about how it cleans, if it's bagless that makes it a better seller.
Sad, sad, sad.

Post# 124967 , Reply# 3   2/14/2011 at 20:42 (4,755 days old) by kenkart ()        
North Carolina

Is full of Airways Compacts and Electroluxes, Some Kirbs Filter Queens and Rainbows, when I was a kid...60s-70s there were TONS of GE canisters!! I never saw a Canadian Lux, or a Silver King until I joined this club in the fall of 94.Also I had never seen an Apex, Cadillac and very few Lewyts!, in my hometown, if you had an Electrolux you had ARRIVED!

Post# 124972 , Reply# 4   2/14/2011 at 21:29 (4,755 days old) by klectrolux ()        

Nova Scotia doesn't really have a lot of variety. In my general perusing of vac shops, thrift stores, and buy and sells, I haven't seen many unique machines. Mostly Electrolux, Kenmore, Eureka, Filter Queen, sometimes a Tristar/Compact. I've only ever seen one Rainbow. We are mostly an Electrolux and Kenmore province.

Post# 124973 , Reply# 5   2/14/2011 at 21:32 (4,755 days old) by kubvan1 ()        

I almost forgot, Electroluxes and Compact/Tristar seem big around here as well, although more so in the well-to-do households so it appears. (and of course Kirby is pretty universal) Not sure why Air-Way was popular, but I found a few houses that had both an Air-Way 88 and a Compact!
I still can't believe that a popular model such as the Hoover Constellation is so conspicuously absent from this area.
Then again, I have not checked out the metropolitan Philadelphia region, and it is all sort of a moot point as the el-cheepo plastic machines seem to be pushing everything else out anyway.
Doug E.

Post# 125041 , Reply# 6   2/15/2011 at 10:23 (4,754 days old) by scvacuumguy (SC)        

scvacuumguy's profile picture
South Carolina is overpowered by Kirbys- in our metro area alone, we have 6 distributors. Air-Ways are nonexistent unless you brought one from up north. In the upstate, Electrolux is prevalent. Tri-Stars and Filter Queens are a rarity in the midlands area. Rainbows are fairly popular all over the state. Thermax is unheard of, unless the person moved here from another part of the country.

Post# 125049 , Reply# 7   2/15/2011 at 12:24 (4,754 days old) by Sablekid ()        

When I lived in Portland, they seemed have a ton of Royals everywhere, not so sure about other brands.

Here in lower northern Michigan its all the cheapest brands you can get and Kirby...there really don't seem to be too many middle-men in the group. Either you get super cheap, or super expensive. Its odd.

Post# 125050 , Reply# 8   2/15/2011 at 12:30 (4,754 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

suckolux's profile picture
Well, in my area, lots of wards/ sears, of course. I think followed by Hoover and Eureka, Kirby, Lux, after that a few Compacts/Tristars. Have seen a couple filter queens around, never a Rainbow or Airway. Might be here, have not seen ever. For what it's worth. Great question!

Post# 125056 , Reply# 9   2/15/2011 at 13:45 (4,754 days old) by kubvan1 ()        
Not many Royals here in PA either!

That brought up another interesting observation. With the comment that there seemed to be a ton of Royals in Portland, I have yet to run across one here save for the 501 hand vacuum and variants. Any of my metal Royal uprights have been "imports" from other states. The local vacuum shop carries Royal bags, but commented that they were not common machines around here.
In the end it must boil down to distributorship, and in the case of DTD vacuums, who was out pounding the pavement.
Perhaps on nationally distributed vacuums like the Constellation, I guess it was just not popular with the demographics of SE Pennsylvania? Lots of Convertibles and DAMs though...

Doug E.

Post# 125057 , Reply# 10   2/15/2011 at 13:51 (4,754 days old) by Sablekid ()        

I have a Royal from Portland here, I bought it shortly after I moved there, and realized all over there were Royals.

It was strange too, because a few years back I had owned a Stark vacuum that came from Portland. Little did I know they were branded by Royal for a store in Portland due to their extremely high sales of Royal!

But over here, I only know one person that had a Royal back in the day. Now, no one has em!

Post# 125058 , Reply# 11   2/15/2011 at 13:53 (4,754 days old) by Sablekid ()        

all vacuums around here for commercial use are those blue and white Windsor vacuums. I never see a Royal, Eureka, or Hoover for any commercial use....just Windsor!!

Post# 125065 , Reply# 12   2/15/2011 at 16:56 (4,754 days old) by kenkart ()        

I one neighborhood back home,everyone had a 66 Airway and a C6 Compact!!

Post# 125073 , Reply# 13   2/15/2011 at 17:37 (4,754 days old) by luxlife (Under a Pecan Tree)        

I've only seen an Air-Way once in Texas. I can count on one hand the number of older Hoovers and Eurekas I've seen. People don't hang onto old vacs in Texas. I suppose it has something to do with consumerism and the painfully stereotypical Texan ideals of always wanting something newer, bigger, better, more expensive, yada yada yada. I guess that's why we have so many Electroluxes, Rainbows and Kirbys. History shows us that Electrolux always had a new model right around the corner, and then of course the prevalence of Kirby and Rainbow is owed mostly to sales tactics.

Post# 125074 , Reply# 14   2/15/2011 at 17:46 (4,754 days old) by alaskabob ()        

thanks to the sears
and wards catalogs
there are a lot of
kenmores and wards around

now the catalogs are gone
more of the low end junk
is in the big box stores

Post# 125094 , Reply# 15   2/15/2011 at 19:51 (4,754 days old) by kirbyduh (Kentucky )        

is mostly high end. Rainbows are extremely popular. Many people still use S.E's and a lot of people have e series machines too. A huge number of people have an electrolux canister in their basement or attic, but a few of them are still used regularly. Oreck is really popular in my county and surrounding, while I believe Kirby is pretty big across the state. Almost EVERY auction/estate sale flyer has KIRBY VAC in bold in the listing. They don't bother to list any other specific brand. I have seen 1 air way and 1 GE swivel top in my lifetime.

Post# 125114 , Reply# 16   2/15/2011 at 20:59 (4,754 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
I can only speculate. But it's not unusual to see Kirbys at garage sales, the auction house, and pawn shops. I also think Electrolux has been a pretty popular high end brand. In fact, there once was a local Electrolux dealer in town. I've never seen another high end DTD brand in my area. I know a Kirby Distributor from a town over 200 miles away is covering our area heavily right now and selling vacuums left and right. Every time I turn around, someone is telling me they just bought a new Kirby or the Distributor was just by their house to do a demo.

Post# 125119 , Reply# 17   2/15/2011 at 21:23 (4,754 days old) by kubvan1 ()        
Kirbys and the other "high end" vacuums

I was just recalling how my Grandmother was a long time Kirby owner up until the 1970's when the local vacuum shop started selling Electrolux. She was good friends with the owner, so naturally she became an Electrolux convert. Her Electrolux G is still being used by my parents, but sadly pretty much all the attachments have been lost and the machine is a mess. Still works great as far as I know though.
Strange she didn't get into Electrolux until the 70's but she had a 60's model?

Post# 125135 , Reply# 18   2/15/2011 at 22:48 (4,754 days old) by mercuryman ()        
Here on Long Island:

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, most everyone I knew used Electroluxes--from the Model E through the Diamond Jubilee. The most popular vacuums I noticed were the 1205 and the Golden J/Super J. A few people had Kenmores, and some had Hoover Convertibles. I never once saw a Hoover Constellation, a Filter Queen, a Rainbow, or a Kirby in my travels.

Recently, Dyson has been a big contender in the market here. Miele has also become quite popular in recent years. However, there will always be the consumer who will nowadays run to WalMart in desperation and drop $75 on a cheap, POS vacuum that will fall apart within a year.

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low cost is forgotten."

Post# 125136 , Reply# 19   2/15/2011 at 22:58 (4,754 days old) by BrianKirbyClass (Eudora Kansas)        

briankirbyclass's profile picture
I know Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma are big Kirby states, as well as Electrolux. Practically everyone i knew growing up in Southern Minnesota had an Electrolux or a Kirby, mostly Electrolux. Rainbows were practically unheard of in Southern MN, but there were alot of Filter Queens. I know that Beam Central Vac was/is also very big in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ill. Living in Central Wisconsin at one time, many of our neighbors that had newer (1960,early 70s) homes were equipped with a Beam Central Vac.
I had never heard of or seen a Compact, or a Rainbow until moving to Kansas. At one time, Topeka Ks had 2 Kirby office/Dealers, a Rainbow Dealer,an Electrolux branch office, a TriStar/Compact office, and a Filter Queen Dealer.

Post# 125142 , Reply# 20   2/16/2011 at 00:49 (4,754 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

When I was growing up it was 99% Electrolux and Kirby of many varieties, with Electrolux slightly in the lead I'd say. Nearly everyone in our neighborhood had one or the other.

I remember a couple of Hoover uprights, a Constellation, a candy-apple-red Eureka upright (one of which I now have, thanks John Young!), one Air-Way (77), one Filter Queen (the chocolate & chrome model), one Bee-Vac tank, one Kenmore Ken-Kart, one ancient Health-Mor upright, one G.E. canister, one Westinghouse Convert-a-vac, one 1940s Kenmore upright, and that's about it.

Oh, and I had an uncle with a bunch of different vacuum cleaners, including an old Royal, and an Aunt with the low-profile triangular-shaped Eureka canister in a houndstooth-pattern storage chest.

I remember a Royal door-to-door salesman coming by the house once sometime in the early 1960s. My parents didn't even let him in the house!

Never laid eyes on a Compact until I moved out here but somehow knew about them. Never knew Silver King, Kingston, Universal or Rexair/Rainbow even existed.

Post# 125145 , Reply# 21   2/16/2011 at 00:54 (4,754 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

Out here in the Seattle metro area, just about all the major brands are seen including lots of Kirbys and Hoovers. Never see a Lewyt or Airway. As I assume is the case in most places, people these days seldom buy something that will last (like a Miele). They take the cheap/easy way out and buy a low-iend plasti-vac at Walmart, Target, etc, and throw it away in a few years. Repair is rarely undertaken on these new vacs. When I visit one of the local vac shops, I usually take a look at the pieces having been serviced and are waiting to be picked up. These are nearly all older machines; the cheap China-vacs make a trip to the dumpster instead. Now, I even admire the Mexican Hoovers over the Chinese product.

Not long ago, I was given a Eureka Altima. It's a China-vac. You can look at the cheap plastic and quickly tell. Yes, I have some American Hoovers and some Kenmores than are plastic, but it's marked ABS and you can feel the difference; even quality of plastic varies. Anyway, I tested the Eureka and although it's a screamer, it works okay. It was missing the front wheels and adjustable strut so I sent away for the parts and they were cheap. When I got the parts, it turns out that the only thing that holds the strut in place is a 15 cent spring; no wonder the part came off in the first place. Very bad design. For test purposes, I've run it around the house some but it's going to find a new owner eventually. I've got so many better machines than to hang onto that one.

Post# 125149 , Reply# 22   2/16/2011 at 03:25 (4,754 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

My aera-You find DTD brands-Kirby,Areos-Lux,Filter Queen,and Rainbow.Dealer brands-Riccar,Simplicity,Royal,Sebo, Meile.Then of course the Wal Mart "dumpster" vacuums.

Post# 125164 , Reply# 23   2/16/2011 at 08:56 (4,753 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        
A perspective on Eureka in Canada

eurekaprince's profile picture
One of my biggest frustrations as a closeted vacuum lover growing up in Montreal, was the dearth of Eureka vacuum cleaners in Canada proudly showing the "Eureka" label. These Canadian Eureka vacs were all manufactured at the "Onward Manufacturing" plant in Kitchener, Ontario.

At some point in the 1960's, Eureka must have signed some exclusivity deal with our big Eaton's national department store chain, and 99% of the Eureka vacs sold in Canada were labelled with the Eaton's brand name "Viking" and available only through Eaton's. Some years later, the competing Hudson Bay national department store chain also signed a contract with Eureka and so they started selling Eureka vacs plastered with the name "Baycrest." Later, the "Baycrest" name was changed to "Beaumark" - a name that worked both in English and French and was more marketable to French Canadians, especially in Quebec. (Our third big department store was Simpsons, and they sold Kenmores from Sears).

Dad bought our first Eureka Automatic upright (turquoise model 250, I think) in 1960 or 1961 from an appliance store in Montreal called Empire Electric. They stocked a lot of properly labelled Eurekas and I even remember going with Dad to the store as a toddler and seeing all these Eurekas in reds, greens, blues and yellows! In 1974, when my parents decided to replace the Automatic, I somehow got up enough courage to tell them that Consumer Reports had given high points to the new gold Eureka Rugulator Vibragroomer upright model 2082. Mom really liked the idea of having a cord reel! My father had contacts in the electronics retail world in Canada, and I remember he ordered our 2082 (it actually was the newer 2083 with Edge Kleeners), from a business associate who ran an electronics and appliance store in Edmonton! A few weeks later, we got our beautiful Eureka "Goldie" with the actual name "Eureka" on it! I was so happy that we were able to avoid buying the Viking version! The box the 2083 came in was unusually plain - just the word "Eureka" and "Model 2083" printed on the box in regular letters - not the official Eureka font and missing the Eureka Williams "e" logo. Can't figure out why the box appeared so plain - all I know is that it originated in Kitchener Ontario, was shipped out west to a store in Edmonton, then was shipped to us back east in Montreal!

I used to love it when our family took vacations in the US because I could finally see real Eureka vacs in all the stores, not some department store copy labelled "Viking" or "Baycrest"!

Post# 125457 , Reply# 24   2/19/2011 at 20:04 (4,750 days old) by vaccrazy ()        

In the northeast part of PA seems every third house on my block had a Compact. All of my relatives had them as well. If you didn't own a Compact then you had an Eloectrolux, there were a few Kirbys thrown in for a good luck. Our next door neighbor had a Hoover Portable which fascinated me, I loved how everything was "inside".

Post# 125536 , Reply# 25   2/20/2011 at 17:17 (4,749 days old) by petek (Ontario)        

I wasn't all that fascinated by vacs when I was little like a lot of you so I don't recall much of what all the neighbors had unless it was something starkly different than our Kenmore Satellite. I do remember my aunt had a tank style on runners with a red on/off button and later she got what I now know was Lewyt Big Wheel, thought it was a strange looking thing back then. Another time I was over at a friends house and we were playing in the rek room and I saw this big blue ball shaped thing, that was a Constellation, thought it was really neat because it hovered so we played with it shooting it across the floor. The only other I recollect was when another friends dad came home with a green Electrolux. I just happened to be there so I guess that was their then new model 89 but back then I'd have never thought I'd be collecting the things and that 89 would be one of my favorites. I don't remember anyone having an upright but then as I said I wasn't really looking

Post# 126256 , Reply# 26   2/28/2011 at 22:05 (4,741 days old) by tazcatsdad (Buffalo, NY)        
Here in Western New York

tazcatsdad's profile picture
we seem to have had a little of everything. I remember there being sales offices here in the Buffalo area for Kirby, Electrolux, Filter Queen, and Rainbow. Today, we still have all of those except Filter Queen -- in fact, when I e-mailed the company for information on how to obtain a copy of the owner's manual for my Majestic Triple Crown, their representative referred me to a distributor's office in Ohio!

We must also have had Compact/Tristar and Air-Way distributors nearby as well: I once bought an Air-Way 88 from a local garage sale (and fool that I am gave it to the Salvation Army long before I became a collector and realized what it was worth!), and at least 3 people I know personally had Compacts. (Come to think of it, I think that the father of one of my vac-shop owning friends here in town was the local Compact distributor! Hmmm....)

And of course, we had our share of Hoovers (including the Constellation, as my Grandmother Wood and a few of my friends, neighbors, and acquaintances had them), Eurekas, General Electrics, Royals, etc. Long story short I would say that literally every brand of cleaner -- yes, even Bison -- has found its way into our humble neck 'o the woods!

Post# 126299 , Reply# 27   3/1/2011 at 09:05 (4,740 days old) by kenkart ()        
We also had!

2 Westinghouse dealers and 2 GE dealers in Lenoir so as you can guess there were a bunch of canisters sold by each.

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