FLINT TWP. — From encyclopedias to vacuum cleaners and life insurance to snake oil, door-to-door sales have a long and storied history.
But scam artists and thieves have created the need for municipalities to regulate such sales. In Flint Township, door-to-door salespeople are required to have a permit, be fingerprinted and to abide by specified hours of operation.
With warm weather kicking in, so have applications for peddlers permits. The township board has recently approved two of them and has a third pending.
At its June 4 meeting the board approved a peddlers permit from Tottingham Builders on North Elms Road.
Clerk Kim Courts said the company sells roofing and siding and has 15 employees. They requested permission to conduct sales for four months until Sept. 14 but Courts said the board typically does not approve a permit for longer than three months.
Trustee Barb Vert asked if the requested hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. could be changed to 9-5 p.m. to avoid knocking on residents doors disturbing them late in the evening.
The permit was approved 4-3 with Treasure Marsha Binelli and Trustees Frank Kasle and George Menoutes voting against it.
At this week’s board meeting, the board again narrowly approved 4-3 a request from Jennifer Terwilliger of Southwestern Advantage Inc. to sell educational books and software.
Her approved hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday until August.
Trustee George Menoutes said he voted against the permit after talking with some township residents many of whom are senior citizens who are frightened by strangers knocking on their door.
“They don’t like opening doors after 6 p.m. no matter who they (the salespeople) are,” he said.
Kasle said Southwestern Advantage sounded like a worthy operation but he also had concerns about elderly residents.
Vert said she opposed the door-todoor permit because while some operations are good some are take advantage of students who sometimes lack a host home and end up sleeping in their cars. She also said it cost them more money than they earn upfront.
Supervisor Karyn MIller said the township often receives calls from residents wanting to know if the salespeople coming to their doors are legitimate operators. There have been incidents with curb address painters operating without a permit, she said.
Any resident with a concerns about door to door salespeople should contact the township clerk to see if they have the proper permit, she said.
That is a safeguard offered to residents, she said.