As the servicemen returned home from World War II, the nation experienced both a baby boom and a housing boom. Planned communities dotted the landscape and the GI Bill, with its promise of VA loans, made the dream of homeownership a reality for many veterans and their families.
In September 1951, Mayor Frank Sullivan declared to The Bakersfield Californian that, “Homeownership is the greatest assurance of community stability and prosperity.”
Along with the responsibility of homeownership come repairs and home improvements. In the days before big box stores, the do-it-yourselfer need look no further than Floyd’s for their home supply needs.
Before Floyd’s officially launched its flagship store, Floyd Burcham started off in the surplus business. In 1946, William B. “Pat” Savage and Samuel L. Sudser opened Savage War Surplus, the only item in its inventory being a large supply of fly swatters. By 1949, the business had expanded to 11 locations, four of which were operated by Burcham.
Burcham eventually purchased the Savage War Surplus located at 3940 Chester Ave. and reopened it in 1952 as Floyd’s. Anything one needed for the home could be found at Floyd’s, including garden tools, hardware, steel fencing, electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, paint and galvanized pipes.
In 1954, Floyd’s expanded to a second location at 1019 Baker St. The store operated for four years until a larger location opened at 1884 S. Chester Ave. The grand opening took place on Friday, Nov. 13, 1959. Contrary to superstitious beliefs about Friday the 13th, the store was a success – so much so that it was necessary to open an even larger location.
When the time came to plan and construct Floyd’s newest emporium, Burcham strove to keep as much money as possible in Kern County. He utilized local businesses, such as McCarthy Tank & Steel Construction, Valley Steel Construction and the locally owned Bakersfield Ready-Mix and Calcrete Blocks. His efforts in using local firms earned him the Try Kern County First Honor Award in December 1968.
The Try Kern County First program awarded honors to firms and individuals who “try Kern County first” when choosing services for their businesses.
In October 1968, Floyd’s “Block-long Emporium” opened its doors at 2020 S. Chester Ave. Advertised in The Californian as the “Sunday contractors’” headquarters, Floyd’s guaranteed it carried everything for the homeowner.
In 1976, Floyd’s expanded once again. This time, Burcham purchased the property adjacent to the 2020 S. Chester Ave. location and added a home improvement center and tack and feed shop. Floyd’s policies – satisfaction, quality at a fair price, customer service and respect – made it the ideal choice for Bakersfield’s discerning customers.
Shoppers could find just about anything they needed as inventory was not limited to home repair goods. Available items included clothing, shoes, toys, dishes and camping gear. As Floyd’s informed the readers of the Nov. 13, 1959, Californian: “You may be pleasantly surprised. Make us your ‘do-it-yourself’ headquarters. We have the merchandise. You furnish the sweat.”