“The little store with a big bell sign in front,” Bell Floor Covering operated successfully for 66 years, closing its doors in 2020, in part, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its related supply chain issues and cost increases in petroleum-based products.
Founded in 1954 by John Muder at 4364 Victory Drive, Kansas City, Kansas 66102, Bell Floor Covering moved across the street in its second year to 4411 Victory Drive and remained there until closing.
The store offered carpet, vinyl, linoleum and commercial tile. Vinyl and carpet were the most popular, according to Nick Muder who eventually took over the store, but over time Bell answered the customer demand for hard surfaces such as hardwoods, laminates and ceramic tile.
Born in 1927, John Muder was a veteran of both World War II and The Korean War. His Army jacket with all its patches and pictures of John as an MP (Military Police) were displayed in the store, prompting many comments, questions, offers to purchase and museum donation suggestions. John passed in 2019 at the age of 92.
Returning from Korea, John proceeded to learn the flooring trade while his brother played football and acquired an interior design degree at Kansas State University. Together, they began selling and installing flooring throughout the region, from eastern Kansas to western and central Missouri.
Eventually, the small store of 3,800 square feet had an impressive fleet of approximately 40 union installers driving white vans to installation sites as far away as the Lake of the Ozarks—that is, until John discovered some “lake installations” were in fact fishing expeditions.
As for the Bell Floor Covering neon sign: It was built and installed in 1961. Red neon outlined both sides of its distinctive bell shape. Years later, when the neon quit working, the neon tubes were removed, the holes were filled, and the sign was repainted. The Guten Tag greeting (German for”‘Good Day”) was added in the early 1990s, but never illuminated. Understandably, John’s son Nick retains this part of the sign for sentimental reasons.
LUMI welcomes this classic, mid-century beauty into our growing collection with open arms and resounding thanks to the Muder family for their generosity.