Chapter 4: The Northwestern Novelty Company
At this point Bolen was approached by Earl D. Fuller and Frank H. Hayes. Fuller, a recent college graduate, was looking for some business to get into. Hayes, an attorney newly arrived in Morris, had some money to invest. On August 12, 1909, the three formed the Northwestern Novelty Company with $3000 capital. Fuller became active in the business while Hayes, who later gained prominence as a circuit court judge, was a director.
Northwestern sold the Yankee through specialty salesmen and grocery tobacco wholesalers. The retail price was $2, and the company minute books disclosed it cost exactly $1 to produce. Business boomed. One entry in the original company minute book contains the following resolution: "In the event that the regular 10% dividend is not declared at the monthly meeting, an explanation shall be given."
In the first nine months Northwestern Novelty Company built and sold about 100,000 of the Yankee. The handwriting was on the wall: in 1910 the safety match took the country by storm and the conveniently free kitchen math passed into history.
Determined not to let the trend get away from him, Bolen planned to capture his share of the safety match business. In 1911 he brought out a penny match box vending machine the first in a long line of coin activated silent salesmen the company was to produce. The box match vender listed at $2.70, and Waldo Bolen figured the company sold half a million of them before the model was discontinued.