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Norge Village Laundry & Dry Cleaning Signs (page 1)

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Norge Village Laundry & Dry Cleaners was a nationwide laundromat chain that originated in Chicago. The laundromats used equipment produced by the Norge Appliance Company division of the Borg-Warner Corporation. Norge was a well-known and reliable brand by the 1950s. The first Norge Village Laundry opened in 1960. In 1962, Rohm & Haas developed these plexiglas signs with polka dots. They are commonly referred to as "Norge Balls." They are about four feet in diameter. While the polka dots remind many people of Wonder Bread wrappers, they most likely represented soap bubbles. These signs revolved and were lit from the inside. They were usually mounted on freestanding poles but many were also installed on the laundromat's roof.

The company referred to these signs in advertising as globes ("Do your laundry under the globe"). The company also advertised the "finest cleaning on the face of the globe" which might have been another reference to the signs. By 1962, there were about 1,000 Norge Village locations and these globe signs popping up everywhere. By 1967, there were 3,400 Norge Village locations. The laundromats featured self-serve, coin-operated washing machines which was still a newfangled concept at the time. The locations also featured dry cleaning machines which would wash and dry your clothes in 50 minutes. These machines used a special fluid (Norg-Clor produced by Dow Chemical) instead of water. This was a big selling point and advertising promised customers that they would save 75% on their dry cleaning bills. If you needed to press your clothes, there was free self-serve pressing equipment on hand. Norge Village also had Cleaning Counselors to assist customers. If you preferred drop-off service, you could pay a small fee for "V.I.P service" and pick up your clothes an hour later.

In addition to the globe signs, Norge Village Laundry locations also had other plexiglas sign panels that were hung from projecting poles, installed on storefronts, and displayed inside. These signs are even rarer now than the globe signs. In 1968, Norge Village broke away from Borg-Warner and became a division of the Fednor Corporation. Fednor, as a subsidiary of the Fedders Corp., began marketing Fedders and Norge commercial equipment and products. The company began soliciting more franchises using the Norgetown name. The company referred to the globe signs as the "Sign of Success" in advertising. The signs were changed from the polka dot design to the striped design. The name on the band around the globes and the panel signs were also redesigned with the new name. The equipment used inside the new Norgetown locations remained the same. The existing Norge Village locations kept operating with their old signs. I believe there are fewer of these striped signs left simply because fewer Norgetown locations were built and less of these signs were produced. The first Norgetown location may not have opened until 1970.

In 1974, the Norge brand was sold to Magic Chef. Franchising must have ceased at that time. There are still dozens of locations operating independently which continue to use the Norge Village and Norgetown names. There are about 60 globe signs known to still exist. However, the only one that is still lit and spinning is the one in Iron Mountain, MI (see next page). For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Dean's Village Cleaners
Tucson, AZ
Video Palace
Tucumcari, NM
Norge Village Laundromat
Dalton, GA
Dean's Village Cleaners opened in 1961 and this sign may have been there from the beginning. This Norge Village globe sign includes the company's name on the band around the middle. It was most likely updated when this location became independent. [map]

The Video Palace updated the band around this Norge Village globe sign with the store's name at some point. The store has been closed for at least a few years. These photos are from 2012. [map]

This Norge Village Laundry globe sign in Dalton is mounted on the roof. Although the paint has faded and mostly fallen off, the original Norge lettering is still visible on the band around the middle. [map]

Shop N Save [gone]
Harvey, IL
Vanity Box [gone]
Chicago, IL
former Norge Laundry
Chicago, IL
The Shop N Save Norge Village globe sign was also pretty battered when this photo was taken in 2008. By 2012, it was gone.

The Vanity Box, a beauty salon, had adapted this sign. This photo is from 2008. The Norge Village globe sign was still there in 2011 but gone by 2014.

This other former Norge Village Laundry in Chicago was a boarded-up building when this photo was taken in 2009. By 2016, the building was in far better shape and the broken globe remained. [map]

Star Deli Food Store
St. Petersburg, FL
Maitland Coin Laundry
Maitland, FL
Norgetown [gone]
Miami, FL
4 Paws Oasis
Largo, FL
former Norgetown
Largo, FL
The Star Deli Food Store now inhabits this former Norgetown. The band was adapted. There is another former Norgetown sign in St. Petersburg as well. [map]

The Norgetown sign at the Maitland Coin Laundry lives on. [map]

The Miami Norgetown's striped globe was on top of a pole in front of the store. This photo was taken in 2005. By 2012, the globe sign was gone.

The 4 Paws Oasis pet shop was previously a laundromat. This sign is still installed on the store's roof. For more, see this website. [map]

This former Norgetown globe stands over the adapted sign for Michael's Food Store. By 2014, the band on the Norge globe had been painted to read "Pizza". [map]

Norgetown Laundromat & Dry Cleaners [gone]
Sanford, ME
The Norgetown Laundromat & Dry Cleaners closed in 2009 and moved down the street. The sign is now located at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH.

Wondermat [gone]
Maplewood, MN
Manchester
Karate Studio
Manchester, NH
Bubba & Company
Fargo, ND
The Wondermat sign and laundry in Maplewood were from 1961. This photo is from around 2001. By 2011, the sign was gone.

The Manchester Karate Studio has been here since 1984. The Norge Village Laundry globe sign is installed on the roof. [map]

The Bubba & Company Norge Village globe sign is broken and being swallowed up by a tree. [map]

former Fashion Care Corp.
Albany, NY
Norge Village [gone]
DeKalb, IL
Norge Cleaners
and Laundry
San Gabriel, CA
Norge Village
Cleaners
Long Beach, CA
Fashion Cleaners
South Pasadena, CA
The Fashion Care Corp. cleaners closed in 2011. Since that same year, the building has housed Futia's Tuxedo, Bridal & Prom Gowns. The Norge Village globe sign still remains. [map]

The Norge Village laundromat was replaced with Inboden's Meat Market but the Norge Village bloe sign remained for several years. It was one of the best preserved globes that I have seen. However, it disappeared in 2007.

This Norge Village globe sign in San Gabriel is mounted on the roof. This location is still going by the name of Norge Cleaners and Laundry. [map]

The Norge Village Cleaners in Long Beach is still in business. This Norge Village globe sign is installed on the roof. [map]

The Fashion Cleaners Norge Village globe sign was painted brown at some point. For more, see this website. [map]

Ranburn Laundry & Cleaners
Gary, IN
Ranburn Laundry & Cleaners is a former Norge Village Laundry. This location has both a Norge Village globe sign and panel sign. In 2017, the owner was looking for a buyer for the signs. [map]

Jackson's Cleaners [gone]
Gary, IN
Glen Park Cleaners
Gary, IN
Hobart Village Cleaners
Hobart, IN
Jackson's Cleaners featured a battered Norge Village globe on the roof. This photo is from 2009. In 2011, the globe was still there minus the band. By 2014, the laundromat and globe were gone.

Glen Park Cleaners's Norge Village globe sign is also installed on the roof. [map]

Hobart Village Cleaners has two Norge Village pole-mounted globe signs with one at each entrance to their lot. I don't know of any other locations that have two of these signs. [map]

World Health Foods
Santa Ana, CA
Imogene's Cleaning Center
Sheboygan, WI
Plymouth Fabricare Center
Plymouth, WI
This World Health Foods sign appears to be an adapted Norge Village sign. The business below the sign is now Water World Two. [map]

Imogene's Cleaning Center claims to have opened in 1962. If that was the case, this would have been a Norge Village sign originally. This globe is more likely a Norgetown sign from 1968 or later that has been repainted. [map]

The Plymouth Fabricare Center Norge Village globe sign advertises for Plymouth Video on the other side. For more, see this website. [map]

Norge Village Cleaners
Menomonie, WI
The Norge Village Cleaners was closed temporarily due to a fire when these photos were taken in 2011. [map]

Norge Signs
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