Finding the Broom Man: Where is he now? | News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - There are some people you meet in life that just sweep you off your feet. They are friends that feel more like family. So, what happens when one day someone who feels like family just vanishes? Well, you go looking for them.
For 63 years, one salesman has strolled the Heights area of Little Rock making a living by selling brooms. Some days he made a lot of sales and others he went home empty handed, but when he stopped coming around a few weeks back, everyone took notice.
Every business on Kavanaugh Boulevard has at least one broom and they all bought them from the same man.
"My dad says they are the best brooms you can buy. His brooms are legendary. He's just the broom man," said Heather Zbinden, manager of The Yarn Mart.
"He would just come in real unassuming and ask a few people if they need a broom, yes or no, and then politely out the door," recalled Kara Bibb, manager of Boulevard Bread Company.
But over the last few weeks, The Broom Man disappeared.
"It's been awhile since we've seen him, and so, it's generating concern about where is Mr. Melvin?" added Susan Crosby, owner of By The Glass.
"Well I'm so grateful for that. I think I made a lot of friends out in the Heights. Yeah, those people out there are real nice," said The Broom Man, Melvin Pickens.
Some may not realize it, but The Broom Man is blind. He's has walked Kavanaugh Boulevard for more since 1950 selling brooms, but lately, his health has kept him from making his living. That is, until Tracee Gentry-Matthews came to help.
"I just missed him. I wanted to do whatever I could do to help him," explained Tracee Gentry-Matthews. "It was all through Facebook that I was able to generate more business for him."
Tracee found Melvin through friends on Facebook, and since the Broom Man can no longer walk the streets of Kavanaugh, Tracee is bringing Kavanaugh to him, taking orders and hand delivering brooms herself.
"I appreciate everything. When people buy one broom, I appreciate it as if I sold a dozen," said The Broom Man.
Despite his health, it's the lessons he's swept up from broom selling that keep The Broom Man going.
"We can't just sit down and feel sorry for ourselves. If we don't sell any brooms, you smile because everyday is not going to be a rainy day in your life," added Pickens.
The Broom Man has put three sons through college selling brooms. He buys them from a wholesaler and sells them for $10 a broom. He also sells mops. If you would like to purchase a broom or mop, you can contact Tracee Gentry-Matthews by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.