Joe the Gadget Man (real name, Joe Sandow) used to appear on Australian TV every Saturday morning after 11 am for Nock and Kirby: “and ladies, not only does it dice, it makes lovely shoestring chips!”
Joe showed you the basics to a decent feed, painting the door on your garage and maybe putting up some shelving and that was it. No waffling on about fixed term demutalisations or bloody sorbet . . .
Born in London in 1913, young Joe Sandow’s lessons in salesmanship began in the historic Chapel Street market in working-class Islington, near his parents’ millinery shop. The traders there sold everything from apples to fake aspirin.
Emigrating to Australia with his wife and three children in 1949, Joe secured a job at Nock and Kirby’s, the big Sydney hardware store, the day after he arrived, quickly becoming known for his gadget demonstrations.
At a time when kitchens were generally furnished with little more than cutlery, choppers and saucepans, Joe travelled around the country demonstrating gadgets, such as potato peelers.
People needed to be shown how to use these inventions, and Joe would work in department stores and country markets where his voice was an enormous asset. His quick wit drew and entertained the crowds and people paid in cash.
Australians entranced by the advent of black & white television in 1956 were taken by Joe’s demonstrations and patter soon after on the programme Joe the Gadget Man.
“Bring your money with you,” became his catchcry.
Joe passed away on Saturday 26 October 2002. He was 89.