Norge Village - Various MI

Address: Various
City: Various
State: MI
Zip: Various
County: Various
Number of visits to this page: 1892

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General Information:

From Roadside Architecture

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 plexiglass 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 plexiglass 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, there are only two that are lit and spinning. They are in Dalton, GA and Iron Mountain, MI.

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