Coolerator: Acclaimed in Hollywood, built in Duluth

coolerator-front coolerator-back

The Coolerator Company manufactured refrigerators and sold them in every state and 74 foreign nations. It began in 1908 as the Duluth Showcase Company, a manufacturer of store fixtures in Downtown Duluth. Operations moved to 50th Avenue West and Wadena Street in 1921. The focus switched to iceboxes in 1928 and the business was renamed Duluth Refrigerator Company. It became the Coolerator Company in 1932 and opened a manufacturing plant in New Duluth in 1935.

The company changed ownership numerous times before ceasing operations in June 1954. One site became Zayre Shoppers’ City and is now the West Duluth Menards; the other was acquired by Chun King Company and is now a vacant lot.



Bill Isles

about 7 years ago

Paul, thanks for sharing! My grandafather, William Arndt, was president of Coolerator.  It was referenced in Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" (dance scene in Pulp Fiction)... "The Coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale." I'm a bit of a collector, too.


about 7 years ago

It's such a comfort and a pleasure to know that you're not going to be embarrassed by running out of ice cubes.
Gotta love vintage copy.


about 7 years ago

One of the Coolerator buildings was quite striking; I remembered these pics from some River history a while back: 


Zenith City Online: Duluth’s Miscellaneous Manufacturers
The collection of industrial buildings included the 1890 four-story Mansard-roofed office building, an unusual style for an industrial complex.

Jessica Hill

about 7 years ago

I keep meaning to scan in my grandfather's photos of Coolerator from 1937.  He has some great candid shots of the regular workers doing their thing. A few of the shots have Coolerator #2 written on the back so they must be from within that building.  Wish it was still standing.

Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago


This is my only photo of the West Duluth Coolerator building, starring my parents in the early 1950s.

Jessica, get thee to a scanner!

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