In the mid-sixties, my father, Simon Cohen, purchased a laundromat. What he didn’t know was that self serve coin-operated laundry mats were taking over the industry. He quickly went out of business. Looking to support his family, he decided to sell a rug he didn’t need, so he placed an ad in the San Francisco Examiner. It sold quickly, but he kept receiving calls asking if he had the rug. He decided to purchase a few more rugs with the money he’d received, and placed another ad. Before long our basement was filled with rugs and carpet remnants. People would come to our home in the outer Sunset every evening to look at carpets and rugs. Our neighbors became annoyed, as the customers were taking up the available parking spaces. At one point the police were called and came to our house. One of them bought a rug...
My father decided it was time to open a store, and named it Rainbow Carpet. It was located on the corner of Duboce and Valencia st. Over the next twenty years, Rainbow operated out of no less than four different locations on Valencia, at Duboce, 16th, 18th, and 20th.
Due to pressure from established carpet retailers, local mill reps refused to sell to him. He traveled to Dalton, Georgia, where he found smaller Georgia carpet mills and purchased directly from them. This gave him a competitive advantage, and Rainbow became popular with small landlords and other folks interested in value-priced carpet. My father became the first person to import Belgian wool reproductions of Oriental rugs to the U.S. He made trips to Belgium and established relationships with the manufacturers. He sold the rugs in his stores, and also to retailers like the Emporium.
In 1981, my mother Elsie Ray Cohen told me that after thirty years of marriage, she was divorcing my Father. This news wasn’t entirely unexpected, as they had a tumultuous relationship. She informed me that her entire settlement consisted of a few truckloads of carpet rolls and remnants. She had rented a small store on Bayshore Blvd. and asked me if I’d help her sell the carpet. She thought it would take a year, and then we’d close the store. Neither of us had any interest in being in the carpet business. I’d grown up in my Father and Mother’s stores and had seen, handled, moved, and cut enough carpet to last a lifetime. I was pursuing a career as a musician and had recently returned from touring the northwest. Full-time work playing music being scarce, I agreed to help my Mother, and we started Peacock in December of 1981.
My mom was fascinated with the art of Brazil, and named the business Peacock Interiors and Gallery Inc., as she had the intention of opening a gallery one day filled with Brazilian art. We really knew little about carpet, and less about running a business.
We worked together for 25 years, and while my mom did make it to Brazil a few times, and brought back dozens of original artworks, we never opened a gallery. As the years went by, we learned the flooring trade, and over the nearly forty years since we started, evolved from selling and installing small residential jobs to working at Universities and airports.
In 2006, we purchased our current location from City College of San Francisco. A long-time goal, this solidified our future in the city.
As we enter the fourth decade of our family business - the future is looking brighter than ever. My daughter, Daniella Cohen, entering her seventh year with us is poised to lead the company into the next decade, and her son, born in 2019, could one day become leader of the fourth generation of our family business.
The vision, courage, determination, and love of Elsie Ray Cohen, as well as the tenacity and fortitude of Simon Joseph Cohen, has shaped the future of our family, and I am forever grateful for their sacrifice and love.
- Martin Cohen, President of Peacock Interiors & Gallery Inc.