The Fingerhut company was started by brothers Manny and William Fingerhut in 1948. Their first and only product was plastic car seat covers, which William produced and sold out of his garage. Sales were brisk, allowing Manny to quit his job managing a used car lot. Products were added and by 1952 the company sold products exclusively by mail order. They gave buyers 30 days to pay, and convinced suppliers to wait 60 days for payment, giving them a positive cash flow. Typical Fingerhut products were towels, dishes, and electric drills. William and Manny fell out in 1954, and William eventually sold his share of the company when it went public in 1969.
In 1974 Manny Fingerhut stepped down as President and his daughter’s husband, Ted Deikel, became President.
Manny retired as chairman in 1978.
In 1979 the company was acquired by American Can Company.
In 1999 the company was acquired by Federated Department Stores, owner of Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.
Manny and his wife Rose were generous philanthropists, supporting their synagogue, Israel, the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and a variety of Jewish organizations and secular causes. They had three children, Ron and Allen Fingerhut and Beverly Deikel. Allen was a partner with Danny Stevens in the Depot nightclub in Minneapolis (now First Avenue). The family lived at 4231 W. 25th Street (built in 1956) in the Fern Hill neighborhood.
Manny died in St. Louis Park in March 1995 at age 80.