North Hollywood Carpeteria Genie (1997).
North Hollywood Carpeteria Genie (1997).

Carpeteria Genies

The genie, or djinn, is a supernatural creature from ancient folklore, appearing in holy texts, "The Book of 1,001 Nights," and a goofy but loved 1960s sitcom. So it seems inevitable that the alchemy of 20th century advertising would have blended the cosmic essence of the genie with the desire to sell discount carpets.

North Hollywood genie.

One west coast business excelled at hawking rugs in stores topped by its 20-ft. tall fiberglass genies. Carpeteria stores date back half a century, the company founded in 1960 in Santa Clarita by two brothers -- Harold and Ted Haserjian. At its peak, there were more than two dozen stores and 40+ franchises in California and Nevada. One of the key corporate brand elements of the discount retailer's signs was its grinning Aladdin's Lamp-style genie figure, which held a large roll of carpet above its head. TV commercials created in the 1970s featured the genie sign, and sometimes a costumed store manager.

Lippy genie of Las Vegas.
Lippy genie of Las Vegas.

The 3D fiberglass character in the sign seemed designed with two-sided genie trickery in mind, so that he appeared to be facing both directions of traffic. His wrists ended in stumps where the carpet roll sign was mounted. Most of the genies were probably identical, though we noticed one odd customization -- the genie's big, waxy lips transformed into a toothy grin. We're not sure which came first..

By 1999, a financially shaky Carpeteria corporation was filing for bankruptcy. Today the franchised brand continues, with Carpeteria independently owned flooring businesses, but the giant genies have been a casualty. The signs were costly to preserve even if a store didn't close, and the notion of a looming magical being helping you make your rug purchases is probably past its time. We've watched the signs gradually disappear from towns such as Bakersfield, Downey, and Long Beach.

North Hollywood genie.
North Hollywood genie after the name change.

The good news is that a few survived. The North Hollywood Genie is probably the most viewed, though the store name has changed. Two more genies endure in Nevada; the one in Las Vegas is original vintage, recently restored, while the genie south of Reno is a more modern, smaller variation of the two-faced figure.

Carpeteria genies have even found a place of honor in the American Sign Museum, salvaged from a closed store in Los Angeles and shipped to Cincinnati, Ohio, The two sides have been carefully restored.

Carpeteria Genie

Address:
Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood, CA
Directions:
At the corner of Laurel Canyon Blvd. and Hart St.
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Carpeteria Genie

Address:
4221 W Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV
Directions:
BOHO Furniture Gallery. Along W Charleston Blvd, just west of Vista Dr. on roof on south side of street.
Admission:
Free.
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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Carpeteria Genie

Address:
8150 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV
Directions:
South edge of the city. US 395/North-South Freeway exit 61. Drive north two blocks on Virginia St. On the right.
Phone:
775-851-4131
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American Sign Museum

Address:
1330 Monmouth St., Cincinnati, OH
Directions:
I-75 exit 3. Turn west onto Hopple St. Drive a quarter-mile. Just past a small auto dealer lot on the right, turn right onto narrow Meeker St. (If you drive across the bridge, you've gone too far.) Meeker St. then bends sharply left, and ends at Spring Grove Ave. Turn right onto Spring Grove Ave. Drive a quarter-mile. Turn right onto Monmouth Ave. You'll quickly see the museum ahead, on the left.
Hours:
W-Sa 10-4, Su 12-4. Tours (recommended and free) W-Sa 11 & 2; Su 2 (Call to verify)
Phone:
513-541-6366
Admission:
Adults $15.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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