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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. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The four pages in this section are in alphabetical order by state.

Alabama Norge Signs:
Huntsville [map]

Norge Village Laundromat
Blytheville, AR
This Norge Village Laundromat is still operating. [map]

Dean's Village Cleaners
Tucson, AZ
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]

Norge Cleaners
and Laundry
San Gabriel, CA
Norge Village
Cleaners
Long Beach, CA
Fashion Cleaners
South Pasadena, CA
Beverly Hair Studio [gone]
Los Angeles, CA
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]

The Norge Village globe sign at the Beverly Hair Studio was mounted on top of a multiple business pole sign. The globe sign was there in 2008 when this photo was taken but gone by 2009.

Hernan Norge Cleaners
Los Angeles, CA
Benny's Market
Los Angeles, CA
Redondo Liquor
Redondo Beach, CA
Thrifty Wash
Fresno, CA
The Hernan Norge Cleaners Norge Village globe sign is in excellent shape. The laundromat is still open. [map]

The Norge Village globe signs at Benny's Market, Green Leaf Hydroponics and Thrifty Wash are missing the middle plastic sections. [Benny's map]; [Redondo map]; [Thrifty map]

former Norge Village Laundry
Compton, CA
Norge Cleaners & Full Service Laundry
Ukiah, CA
The Norge Village Laundry in Compton is gone but the remains of this Norge Village globe sign are still there. [map]

The Norge Cleaners & Full Service Laundry in Ukiah still retains the name and signs but is no longer a self-serve place. I have not seen a Norge Village globe sign with a blue band like this before. [map]

Willow Creek Motel
Willow Creek, CA
World Health Foods
Santa Ana, CA
The Norge Village globe sign at the Willow Creek Motel has been here since at least the early 1970s. It most likely came from a laundromat in town or another city. [map]

This World Health Foods sign appears to be an adapted Norge Village sign. The business below the sign is now Water World Two. [map]

California Avenue Norge Village Dry Cleaners
Palo Alto, CA
Norge Laundry & Cleaning Village
Oakland, CA
This panel sign at the California Avenue Norge Village Dry Cleaners looks like it never had the "Cleaning &" text like the others shown at this page. The upper right area of the panel has been covered up to avoid confusion since this location does not have washing machines any more. It is now a dry cleaners. [map]

The Oakland location has a flat plastic sign. It probably had a Norge Village globe sign originally. This location is still a Norge Laundry & Cleaning Village. [map]

former Norge Laundry & Cleaning Village
San Mateo, CA

2008:

2014:
In 2008, this Norge Laundry Village building was being transformed from Dave's Hubcaps to Jack's Prime Burgers & Shakes. By 2019, the Norge Ball had been replaced with a flat round sign. [map]

former Norge Laundry & Cleaning Village
Albany, CA
This Norge Laundry Village, now known as Norge Cleaners, was built in 1962. It features the same building design as the location above in San Mateo. I don't know of any other Norge buildings like this. The Norge Village globe sign is long gone. For more, see this website. [map]

More California Norge Signs:
Lomita [gone]
Santa Ana [gone?]

Norge Signs
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Norge Signs
page 3
Norge Signs
page 4
Main Signs Page