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Mark C. Bloome; Built Chain of Tire Businesses

December 03, 1991|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mark C. Bloome, who immigrated to Southern California from Canada in 1924 and parlayed a 15-cent-a-gallon Richfield gasoline station into one of the nation's largest chain of tire stores, is dead.

His son-in-law, Jerry Fields, who helped oversee the 45 tire and service stations in the chain until they were sold in 1972, said Bloome was 89 when he died Sunday at his Beverly Hills home.

As with many of Southern California's aged entrepreneurs, Bloome had his origins elsewhere. He was a boy when he left Canada to find his fortune and only 22 when he opened his Richfield station at Compton Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in South-Central Los Angeles.

He survived the Depression years by offering glassware giveaways and other free premiums at his expanding chain of stations and at one point even had women on roller skates speeding among the pumps dispensing gasoline.

In 1938, the Retail Petroleum Dealers' Assn. took him to court to block his use of coupons, which could be redeemed for dishes and pottery, but soon many of their members started offering similar incentives.

By the 1950s, Bloome's stations numbered an even dozen and they were selling a broad range of tires from nearly all manufacturers. Customers were waiting in air-conditioned rooms while their cars were being serviced in giant bays a few feet away, a system that was a forerunner of the modern tire store.

Bloome was not shy about his operations.

In 1959, after reading that Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko had been cited by Swiss police for driving his official car with bald tires, Bloome informed the media that he had shipped him a new set. "I just hope they'll fit his car," he said.

In 1972, the family sold the business to Petrolane Inc. and Bloome retired. In 1986, Goodyear purchased it.

Bloome was a widower whose survivors include a son, Mark Jr., two daughters, Gloria Fields and Barbara Herzberg, two sisters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

His funeral is scheduled for noon Wednesday at Hillside Mortuary. The family asks that any contributions be sent to the Alzheimer's Assn., 5979 West 3rd St., Suite 200, Los Angeles 90036.

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