Coles Fine Flooring has been part of San Diego’s business community since 1947, when the late Hubert Coles opened up ‘Coles of La Jolla’. In those days their inventory included furniture, draperies, silver, crystal, gifts and appliances, and they operated from a single location here in La Jolla. Since then the business has stream-lined its focus and now leads the field by offering the finest hardwood, carpeting, laminate, vinyl and window treatments at old-school prices through eight stores across the county.
The Original Coles of La Jolla Ad in the Blue Book, circa 1949
Last week we were lucky enough to catch up with Lauren Coles, daughter of the company president, Steve Coles, and the newest member of the Coles Fine Flooring clan to lead this San Diegan family institution into the twenty-first century. She has taken a position at the Morena Boulevard store, where she will continue to learn, grow and gradually make her own mark on the family business.
Blue Book Publishers: Your Uncle George recently retired (after more than forty years), handing the mantle over to your father. And now you’ve stepped up to the plate at the Morena Coles Fine Flooring. Did you always know you were going to join the family business, or was this something that only clicked later on in life?
Lauren Coles: I would say it happened more organically. My uncle and my father never really pushed this on me. They wanted me to make my own decisions and get through school first (which is a main priority). I started out as a Psych major and realized I didn’t really like it. So I started taking business classes and as I worked more during summers and school breaks, I realized the company was something I wanted to go into. Once I took that initiative and started learning about what my dad did and got a foundation in the company, I found it was something I’m really passionate about.
Blue Book Publishers: What have you been up to prior to going into the family business? You’re a proper San Diego girl, aren’t you?
Lauren Coles: I was born in La Jolla and went to La Jolla High. I’m currently half-way done with college at the University of San Diego.
Blue Book Publishers: Your family started Coles Fine Flooring in 1947 and it has remained a family-owned, family-run company for over 65 years. How does Coles Fine Flooring maintain its community-focused principles in today’s world of online shopping and discount super-stores? What makes the shopping experience better than picking out a product from a mega-mall catalog?
Lauren Coles: Being a family-owned company nowadays is a rarity and people gravitate towards us because they know our family name. We really care about customer service and cater to our clients by making things as comfortable as possible for them. We do a lot of in-home appointments and make that extra effort to stay involved with the community. We’re a member of the Better Business Bureau, which is a strong community based organization. As for philanthropy, we stay involved with a lot of organizations, especially through my uncle who is big on San Diego Humane Society. Across the board, we love San Diego.
Blue Book Publishers: In addition to maintaining core community values, you’ve embraced the modern world at the same time by using Twitter, Facebook, an active blog and other social media platforms not only to offer deals and products, but to give advice and tips. Is that something Coles Fine Flooring is using to connect with the next generation of shoppers?
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Lauren Coles: I think so, just because now our generation is so technology dependent. Having a good website and social media game lets consumers see what kind of company we are, so it helps us and it helps our clients.
Blue Book Publishers: Last year Coles won the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for the sixth time – if I’m not mistaken? What does this award, as well as the company’s affiliation with BBB, mean to Coles Fine Flooring?
Lauren Coles: Yes, it reflects on the trust we have with the community and other business around us. The Better Business Bureau accredits companies based on the fact that they live up to certain standards – their customer service, how they handle their company and so forth. It just shows that we are a quality company who care for customers and have a strong reputation in the community.
Blue Book Publishers: A lot has changed over the years. We’re looking at one of the original Coles ads from 1949, when the business still sold china, gifts, silver and other products. Are there any plans to evolve onto something else or do you ever see the business going down any other road again?
Lauren Coles: When it was ‘Coles of La Jolla’ it was more furniture-based and now we’re strictly flooring and window treatments. I think we’re going to stick with that. But as far as I can see we are a strong business – we just opened our eighth store in Chula Vista – so definitely in the future I can see us opening more stores. We’re willing to branch out, as far as I’m concerned.
Blue Book Publishers: To finish, there’s a lot of family history to the business and I’m sure you are immensely proud of this. What kind of legacy or mark are you hoping to make on the business?
Lauren Coles: I feel like going into this company is not just like graduating from college, finding a new job and having a new boss. This is all part of who I am. I grew up with this, watching my grandpa retire, then how hard my uncle, my father and my whole entire family has worked. This a sense of pride for me – that I have this legacy to carry on. And I just love the fact that I can help it grow and bring something different. Not necessarily different, but just to help it excel for more generations.