If you live within 20 miles of Gardiner, Mountain View Floor Covering was always only a short drive away. The one-story showroom, off Route 208 with a terrific view of the Gunks, had a myriad of flooring samples stored in easy-to-navigate displays and hanging on the walls.
The owner, Mario Milano, is a walking encyclopedia of flooring. All you needed to do was describe your rooms, preferences, and problem areas ,and he would know exactly what to suggest and how to fix the problem. Stores like that are a local treasure that are becoming harder and harder to find. For over five decades Mountain View Floor Covering has been a trusted and reliable neighbor, holding local home life together with every roll of carpet, every piece of tile and plank flooring.
Mario and his team are to be congratulated for doing what many others have not been able to: stay alive in the era of big box stores, online competition, and, dare I say it, Amazon. He, along with his daughter, Michelle Nielson (who is no longer with the company), his wife, Patty, who manages the financial and business aspects, and Office Manager and Sales Associate, Liz Doering, who has been with Mountain View for 18 years, not only survived, but thrived.
I caught up with Mario, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery–which is probably why I was able to catch him–and asked him how he successfully competed with these giant competitors. He said, “Most common-sense people know they don’t get good, personalized service from them. I have second and third generation customers, meaning that I installed flooring for their parents and grandparents. I want to express my extreme gratitude to my loyal customers, neighbors and friends, and say how much I’ve enjoyed their company.”
When asked if there were any stand-out projects over the 50-plus years he’s been in business, you know, ones that stood out in his memory, he was very modest. All his projects were good, he said. but when I insisted that there must have been some stand-outs, he went on to tell me that he put floor coverings in over 30 Catholic churches.
Then he dropped the bomb: “Jackie Gleason and James Cagney were also my customers.” WHAT?!! I’ve been watching a ton of old movies lately, and I blurted, “Mario! Really? Just last night I watched James Cagney in the 1935 film, ‘The Irish in Us’ and was thinking how great he was in it.
He lived around here?” Mario replied, “Yes, he did, and he was a great guy who told me to stop by for coffee anytime as long as I never asked him about his movies.” Mario then went on to say that, “I’ve met people from all walks of life in my work and really enjoyed them all.” It’s clear that Mario remained in business for so long because he was a good businessman, selling terrific products with unparalleled customer service, but also because he’s a good man, neighbor and friend to all. When asked why he was shutting down his successful business, he said simply, “It’s time.”
We will miss Mountain View Floor Covering, and especially the chance to do business with our good neighbor, Mario Milano.