Chisum’s Floor Covering

By Misty Hall

In an age when mom-and-pop shops are increasingly becoming the exception rather than the rule, the Ojai Valley seems frozen in a better time. It’s a place where small, family-run businesses can still thrive, where people choose local over big-box. I think there’s a pretty simple reason for that. Sure, it feels good to support your neighbors, but the deeper reason is more pragmatic than philosophical.

Chisum’s has been in the same location on Bryant Street since 1965. (Photos by Misty Hall)

Visit Chisum’s Floor Covering and it becomes clear: it’s the people. Real people, who know their products inside and out, and who know the right questions to ask you to help find exactly what you’re looking for — with better accuracy (and way less headaches!) than a Google search.

When you call the shop, you’ll get a real human on the line. And chances are it’ll probably be Debbie Kresge. She literally grew up in the shop, climbing on rolls of carpet and absorbing the business from her parents, Derald and Georgia Chisum, who opened the shop in 1965. Debbie and her husband Tim took over in 2005, but they’ve stuck with the Chisum’s golden rule: “Customer service is king,” Debbie said.

Debbie shows off some Hunter Douglas window coverings in the shop.

Whether you’re looking for carpet, draperies, vinyl, linoleum, tile, blinds, area rugs, or even a vacuum, it can be hard to know where to start. But Tim and Debbie know. “We start by asking questions,” Debbie said. “What are you looking to cover? Do you have pets or kids? What’s your goal? Then we’ll go over different products, different yarn systems, different fibers, and go over qualities, colors, price points.”

What’s right for one home will be entirely wrong for another, Debbie points out. So learning more about the client helps guide them in the right direction. If you own a rental unit, wool carpet doesn’t make much sense, she explains, and conversely, you wouldn’t put rental grade carpeting in a luxury home. “I have a lot of people who love the wool carpet, the natural fiber, but you do have to clean it differently,” Debbie noted. “If you have a house full of kids and pets, it may not be the right fit for you.”

If you DO have pets and kids, there are special nylon carpets made with them in mind, which are easily cleaned and durable. “They’ve installed it in a zoo in the rhino (enclosure), and cleaned it, and it’s held up well,” said Debbie.

Looking for eco-friendly options? “Smartstrand by Mohawk is a corn-based as opposed to petroleum-based system. It’s soft and cleans very well, stain-resistant, and it’s colorfast,” Debbie explained. Not interested in carpet? Debbie often gets questions about bamboo flooring. “A lot of people love bamboo because it’s a readily renewable resource,” she said. But, as with any other type of flooring, there’s still lots of things you’ll want to consider before making the decision to install. It scratches more easily than some other flooring types, and not all companies are created equal. “I had people come in — we didn’t do the job for them — but it had been humid, and their bamboo flooring had sprouted. That’s not what you want to see in the middle of your floor!” Debbie said. “You have to be sure to get it from a source that allows it to cure the length of time it needs.”

And the concept of “eco-friendly” can be a complex thing, she noted. Is a product really green, or does it just sound green? Chisum’s can help you explore those options, and decide based on what’s important to you. Bamboo can be beautiful and it’s renewable, but processing requires non-sustainable products and it is grown overseas, increasing its carbon footprint. “But, if that’s the look you want, then absolutely, get it!” Debbie said. “But I do have other woods that are North American, so your carbon footprint is less, if that’s what’s important to you. They cut a tree, and they plant two.”

Want something that’s eco- and kid-friendly, but also easy to clean, and super colorful, too? Debbie might send you in the direction of Marmoleum, a linoleum company. Made with readily renewable natural ingredients, it comes in more than 100 colors and resists dirt and scuff marks.

Marmoleum is made from readily renewable natural ingredients. With so many colors, clients can create vibrant patterns, whether in a sophisticated Art Deco dining room or a messy kids’ playroom.

And that’s just a small portion of the flooring options. If it’s window coverings you’re seeking, Chisum’s specializes in Hunter Douglas, from inexpensive mini-blinds to high-end, like their Duette Honeycomb Shades, which are very energy efficient. “If someone comes in and says ‘It’s so hot in my house,’ these can make a world of difference,” she said.

Debbie shows some samples of carpet. There’s lots to consider, from color to yarn type, price to texture, but Debbie and Tim are experts at asking the right questions to help customers find the products that fit them best.

Chisum’s can also help with custom draperies, custom rugs, and more — and they can do the installation, as well. With more than half a century in business, “We’ve done grandparents’ houses, and parents’ houses, and now, the kids are coming to us,” Debbie said.

They’re still located at 118 Bryant St., in the same building they’ve always been in — only these days, it’s a bit bigger, with a larger show room and more products to choose from. But the philosophy of good customer service remains unchanged. Debbie summed it up perfectly: “We care.”

For more, stop by the shop, call Chisum’s at (805) 633-1401, or visit