Monday, March 12, 2012

A 1930s Trade-Attracting Floor

This is Graul's Market in Baltimore, Maryland, back in 1937 (they opened in 1920, and are still in business, by the way).* It was not only known to be a place to buy really good groceries but also somewhere that had a very gorgeous linoleum floor - and it really is. But there is a lot more to like about this place, too.

I love the Art Deco look of the mint green display cases. I love the white chairs scattered throughout the store - this is such a great idea, because we all know how tiring it gets, shopping for stuff. I wish they had this sort of thing in modern superstores, don't you? But most of all, I love the cream-colored flooring (perhaps, since it is a grocery, we can call it French Vanilla) with faint green marbling and snappy green stripes ("Marbelle No 03 with strips of jade green" to be precise). That is one fabulous, "trade-attracting" floor.

Clearly, Graul's was a place that cared a great deal about its interior design - and I think it probably paid off. I would really like to shop somewhere like this, wouldn't you? I make fun of a lot of retro ads, but this one is really good. It convinces me that Armstrong's was the place to go for a great floor. And it also made me wonder about linoleum - something we all know about, but I'll bet not a lot of us know when it was invented, and what it actually is. So I decided to find out.

Invented in the mid-19th century, it was named linoleum from the Latin linum oleum, literally "flax oil." Frederick Walton, the inventor of linoleum, first patented and manufactured it in England, but by the 1870s he opened a factory on Staten Island in New York City; the company town was called (not surprisingly) Linoelumville (now called Travis). Several other people opened linoleum companies throughout the US, and a new era in flooring was born. Linoleum is made from solidified linseed oil, rosin, ground wood or cork, and other filler, and is attached to  burlap or canvas. It is made specifically for floors and it is both durable and flexible. It is especially suited for high-use floors, and ones that might get wet - such as those in bathrooms, hallways and kitchens. Oh, and in Art Deco era grocery stores, of course.

*In the ad, the name is spelled Grauel's - but on their website it is quite clearly Graul's.


Tarrant said...

I shopped at Graul's occasionally as a child. I daydream of their cheese bread and their chicken salad.

Interestingly, the location near us had the same look... well into the 80s. It looked dated then. This was incredibly the case when compared to the new and newly remodeled supermarkets closer to my childhood home.

I suspect though if I went home for a visit I would love it all over again.

As for the dropped E, I remember them doing it or hearing about it or seeing mixed signage. I know there was discussion. Maybe I will ask Mama about it sometime soon.

Zootsuitmama said...

I want to go back to those days! I remember shopping on Sat. mornings with my grandma at the local grocery and long for the old checkouts, scales and linoleum floors!

John Schindler II said...

Great blog! I’m a lifelong antiquer, and am making my passion for antiques a full-time business by selling antiques online. I’m blogging about my experiences at my brand-new blog, Wisdom Lane Antiques: Stop by--you never know when I'll get a great old ad!

Marcheline said...

How cool is THIS, I ask you!

Anonymous said...

I love linoleum, only now the trade name is Marmoleum. We just installed in a bathroom and also used it for the countertop in our pantry. It looks warm, feels warm to the touch and when we installed it there was no toxic smell. Unfortunately we put laminate on the kitchen counters before we did the pantry--or I would have used linoleum throughout.