Buster Brown at Paris Fair in Hood River – Here’s an antique postcard depicting a crowd that had gathered in the street in downtown Hood River, Oregon. They’ve assembled in front of the popular clothing store Paris Fair. Paris Fair was a popular clothing store that was in business in Hood River for 80 years until it closed in 1988.
Buster Brown was a cartoon that was created in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault. The comic centered around a young boy who appeared to be conservative and well behaved but was actually a mischievous prankster and his pet dog Tige. Think of Calvin and Hobbs but with Calvin dressed in a yellow Little Lord Fauntleroy suit and Hobbs willing to bite if he felt it needed. The comic strip was very popular back then and the Brown Shoe Company saw potential in using the character as the mascot for a line of childrens shoes.
Soon after the Brown Shoe Company adopted their new mascot, signing a licensing agreement with Outcault at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, they created a campaign where Buster Brown and his dog Tige would make public appearance at shoe stores around the country. They would use Little People to act the part of Buster Brown. Young and old would come to these events to see Buster Brown, and many pair of shoes were sold. It was so successful that Buster Brown shoes have been popular beyond extent of the life and popularity of the cartoon character Buster Brown and are still a popular brand of children’s shoe today.
The Paris Fair Department Store advertised and promoted the event in the Hood River Glacier Newspaper and by the look of the size of the crowd it was a successful event. You can see people, young and old, pouring out into the streets in front of Paris Fair showing, even back then, how celebrity endorsements sell shoes.