Shady Characters Make for an Open & Shut Case: An Aero Shade History

A digital painting of an old car on a street corner.

Jack Pitson, co-owner of Aero Shade for the past three years, isn’t kidding when he says that his business has 200 years of experience. Between himself, his partner Mario Soulema, and their nine other employees, 200 years might even be a low guess. Made up of three 50-year-old businesses, including Coast Venetian Blinds and West Los Angeles Shade, Aero Shade has served the local community since the early 1940’s.

“We kept all three names [on our Third Street shop’s sign] because people in the area remember them,” explained Pitson. From the popularity of wood blinds to the invention of steel and aluminum slats, from Clark Gable’s dining room to Cher’s bedroom, Aero Shade has seen it all – and they’re still seeing it.

“We’ve expanded and have gotten involved in more specialty work,” said Pitson. “We’ve started to do the type of work no one else wants to do.” Many of their customers are referred by other companies, but even a larger number have been customers for years. For many of Aero Shade’s regular customers, patronizing the store is a tradition passed down from grandparents and parents who, in the past, used the services of one of the three stores. “Customers are comfortable with us because of our experience,” Pitson said.

One of Aero Shade’s employees, Normal Olson, has been with Coast Venetian Blinds isnce 1945 and “still has some of the same accounts as [he] did in the 1940’s.” Hal Harvey, former owner of Aero Shade, continues to work at Aero Shade, adding another 30 years of experience.

Besides selling a variety of rolldown shades, Roman Shades, shutters, and blinds, Aero Shade cleans, repairs, and renovates old Venetian blinds, many times blinds that were originally purchased from Coast Venetian Blinds, West LA Shade, and Aero Shade. “People come in with old blinds and say we did it for their grandparents years ago,” Pitson added, pointing out an old Coast sticker on top of a set of wood blinds that had been brought in for repair.

Recently, the company installed motorized blinds in the state senate, a job they obtained through a referral, and though these kinds of advanced products are growing in popularity, the old-fashioned, two-inch Venetian blinds are still their best sellers, according to Pitson.

Before buying Aero Shade, Pitson and Soulema spent 10 years working part-time cleaning and repairing Venetian blinds and say they haven’t grown tired of their job yet. “The work is challenging,” Soulema said. “There is always something different happening and we meet so many people.

“We’ve just expanded on what was previously done and have continued giving our customers personal service.” Pitson added. “We’d like to take over more old shade shops, but we’ll never be too big to take care of our customers.”

Reprint courtesy of the Beverly Hills Courier