Estonian Book Sellers Cause Commotion in Alaska Towns ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Reuters/Scanpix

A pair of door-to-door book salesmen from Estonia have reportedly caused a fuss in two small Alaskan towns, leading to police calls, a physical conflict and (unfounded) suspicions of planned burglaries.

Mostly though, residents of Fairbanks and North Pole were annoyed by the Estonians' nosy and pushy sales tactics, the News-Miner, a local daily, reported yesterday.

The Estonians, selling children’s encyclopedias, also knocked on the doors of several police officers, who said the salesmen had done nothing illegal. To the contrary, a local resident may be charged with assaulting one of the Estonians in a dispute.

A police officer, Sgt. Mike Roberts, described the Estonians as aggressive salesmen, but “polite and professional.”

“They have accents and don’t necessarily understand American and Alaska subculture,” he said. “They don’t take hints to go away. Basically to end contact with them you had to turn around and close the door.”

Roberts said he believed the two had moved on to Anchorage.

For years now, such sales programs have given hundreds of Estonian students a chance to earn money in summers. Typically the salespeople forgo any benefits backages or employee status, but the successful can end up making a handsome commission of 30-40 percent.