One Woman Who Says the Iron Age Isn't Over

Kelly Devaney is the Iron Queen.

As a products manager for the Schaumburg, Ill.-based Sunbeam-Oster, she can tell you that irons can be found in 88% of American homes. She can tell you that some major retailers report that their iron sales are up as high as 20% from a year ago. She can tell you that the average iron buyer takes home 1.02 irons per purchase.

She'll also tell you that she can't go to a party without people coming up to her, wanting to talk ironing.

She loves to tell the story of the woman who once billed Sunbeam $300 for repairs to her broken iron and for the dinner she had to buy her husband after he "blew a gasket" because his clothes weren't kept wrinkle-free.

Sunbeam has even sent Devaney, 30, into consumers' homes to watch people as they do their ironing. She's learned that the average age of an ironer is mid-40s and that the most serious ironers come from a European background. And 55% of those who iron do it more or less on an as-needed basis, while the rest do it a big bunch at a time.

One woman in her household study loved to set up the iron and go to work every morning at 10. Another started every night at 1 a.m., before going to bed. Then there were others who used ironing as their excuse to watch soap operas.

Perhaps only half in jest, Devaney figures that the next big breakthrough in ironing technology will be a telepathic iron.

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