Linoleum City celebrates 75 years of red carpets and fancy floors

| April 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

OWNER Fred Stifter and Vice President Patricia Walters.

Once upon a time in the windy city of Chicago, two brothers owned a flooring store, Artistic Linoleum. As sometimes happens in families, the brothers Ed and William (Bill) Stifter had a falling out, resulting in Ed buying out the business. Bill and his pregnant wife Geraldine (Gerry) hopped on a train and headed to Colorado to conquer the flooring market there.

As luck would have it, a torrential downpour greeted them in Denver, so they rode to the end of the line in sunny Southern California.

The year was 1948, and Linoleum City was born, staking out a site on Route 66, Santa Monica Boulevard. The first shop was across from the Sears Roebuck & Co. there. Next, it moved into a bigger space next to Sears, eventually settling into a 15,000-square-foot showroom in its current Santa Monica Boulevard location, outlasting Sears.

Still in the same family 75 years later, the current owner, Fred Stifter, is the baby who Gerry was carrying on that move west. Other family members work there, including Fred’s niece, Vice President Patricia Walters.

Those who are not technically family agree that all are made to feel as though they belong, from the forklift drivers to flooring artist Laurie Crogan of Crogan Inlay Floors, who works with Linoleum City to create elaborate linoleum inlay designs for customers.

“We are family,” emphasizes Crogan, whose designs include a leaf inlay for singer Phil Collins, a basketweave pattern for a home in Windsor Square and a bordered medallion for the Plymouth Boulevard kitchen of interior designer Scott Lander.

PERFECT border work inlaid by Crogan Inlay Floors.

Walking into Linoleum City, one is greeted by a Crogan inlay floor. Then one realizes the enormous array of flooring options available. “We stock close to 100 different patterns of sheet vinyl,” Patty Walters says. “We have 40 styles of linoleum, 100 styles of carpet. Overall, hundreds of thousands of square feet of flooring.” Linoleum City always keeps at least 6,000 square feet of red carpet on hand. They also have a Glendale warehouse filled with overflow.

According to Fred Stifter, his father almost immediately realized there was a huge market in the entertainment industry and began importing specialized flooring and working with manufacturers to create unique looks for the film and television business. Today Walters estimates that 70 percent of their business comes from entertainment companies.

This year alone, according to Walters, Linoleum City provided red carpets for the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Academy Award stage carpeting and after-parties, the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice Awards and numerous movie premieres.

In the past, their carpets were also used in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics and for Pope John Paul II’s September 1987 visit to California.

INTERESTING PATTERNS abound in the showroom.

As their name implies, Linoleum City is a large supplier of linoleum tile for residential and commercial use. Although, as Stifter explains, the United States stopped manufacturing real linoleum around the time vinyl flooring became popular in the 1950s. Linoleum City maintains a supply of high-quality linoleum sourced from Europe. As it is a natural product made from linseed oil, pine resin and ground cork dust, environmentally conscious consumers are turning once again to real linoleum for their homes.

ROLLS AND ROLLS of flooring at Linoleum City.

Linoleum City also works with manufacturers to develop interesting patterns for their sheet vinyl such as a black-and-white hexagonal print that mimics the old honeycomb tiles found in many of the original bathrooms in our historic neighborhood houses. That pattern is in demand with art directors, who placed it in the opening sequence of the William H. Macy series “Shameless” and in all of the bathrooms in Tyler Perry’s “A Madea Christmas,” among other productions.

As Walters observes, “Everybody needs flooring.”  John C. Riley visited the store and bought linoleum tile flooring for his airstream trailer. Coachella acts perform on Linoleum City flooring, as did Michael Jackson. Kim Kardashian purchased rubber flooring for her home gym, and Jason Alexander opted for their carpeting. Mikhail Baryshnikov danced on it, “All in the Family’s” Archie Bunker argued on it, “Desperate Housewives” were desperate for it, and the family in Steven Spielberg’s “The Fablemans” lived with it.

Fred Stifter reflects on what he has most enjoyed about life with Linoleum City — “friends that I’ve made over the years, and carrying on a tradition of a family business.”

  Linoleum City, 4849 Santa Monica Blvd., 323-736-3200.

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Category: People

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