BORN AS A HUMBLE TWO-MAN SHOP AND TODAY A VAST, HIGH-END SHOWROOM, THIS THIRD-GENERATION FAMILY-OWNED FLOORING EMPORIUM HASN’T LOST ITS PERSONAL TOUCH
BY ZACHARY WEG • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
It’s not yet 9 a.m. on a weekday morning but, sitting in his chair in his Staten Island home, perhaps sipping from a mug of fresh tea, Sal Leto Jr. primes himself for a full day’s work. An Italian-American with an old-world reverence for family and tradition, Leto Jr. owns one of New York City’s sole independent homemaking emporiums: B&S Floors. Born in 1950 as a two-man outfi t when Sal (Leto Jr.’s father) and Bennie (his uncle) went door to door in Canarsie to showcase the latest innovations in fl ooring, B&S Floors now spans a vast storefront on Victory Boulevard in Staten Island. “We must be doing something right,” Leto Jr. said in his signature rasp.
Born and raised in Canarsie, Leto Jr. started working in his father’s and uncle’s new store when he was a teenager. “We had two locations in Brooklyn fi ve blocks from each other, and then we moved to Staten Island,” he said. Today, a third-generation Leto also sits behind the wheel. Leto Jr.’s son, Bennie, now runs the shop alongside his father. “He’s been with me about 30 years now,” he said, allowing a hint of pride. “He did the same thing I did. He worked a couple of odds-and-ends jobs, then came to work with me and, like me, he never left.” Along with Freddie Martin, who the owner calls an adopted son after he hired him when the store was based in Brooklyn, Leto Jr. and Bennie serve “wherever the work is.” They offer a vast selection of carpeting, waterproof vinyl fl ooring, and high-end hardwood fl oring from all major designer brands. “For All Your Flooring Needs” goes their slogan, and the owners personify it with breadth and precision.
It’s a full-service operation: from measurements to conception to installation. Th e team also off ers free estimates and shop-from-home services for both residential and commercial clients. Leto Jr. and his crew take a customer-focused approach to their work, explained the owner, dedicated to putting people fi rst. It’s not so much, “Th e customer is always right,” as it is, “What can I do for you?” noted Leto Jr. He makes it a point to greet every person, from customers to employees, with a smile and genial warmth. “One of my employees has been with me for 38 years,” he said, referencing Martin, who asked for work when passing his house one day and never looked back.
This people-first mantra translates into his work. In addition to staying open six days a week, he goes one step beyond most big box retailers by off ering after-hours appointments upon request. With decades of experience behind him, he’s witnessed a sea of shifting trends over the years, and today he remains steadfast in keeping his fi nger on the pulse of customer wants and needs. Waterproof vinyl, he pointed out, has exploded in popularity over the last decade. For carpeting, he still personally sources all varieties from the carpet capital of the world: Dalton, Georgia. He also ventures West to Las Vegas to attend carpet expos to stay on the forefront of design trends. “Quality is everything to me,” he said. “Th rough all my years of experience, I know what it looks like and where to get it.”
The day ends as it started: with the owner’s integrity and workmanship. While he marvels that B&S Floors has been around for over 70 years, its door-to-door roots blossoming into the mini fl ooring empire it is today, its success comes at no surprise. Leto Jr. treats people with the honesty and respect he feels is right.