Ask “The Rug Guys”©

From ORIA President, Jeff DeSantis

Welcome to our first edition of Ask the “The Rug Guys” ©

ORIA strongly believes that by all of us – retailers, importers, and design professionals – working together and sharing our successes, we will get stronger. So, we have invited Sy Mahfuz and Steve Boodakian, familiar names to many of you, to moderate this column.

They have volunteered their time to field your questions, tap into the huge talent in our industry to get their input, and pull it all together in a way that really relates to how we run our businesses.

It is an open forum that relies upon your questions. So, lets get started.


I am a one- store shop that has been in business for over 30 years. I have a loyal client base but am continually hammered by new ads from new retailers. My market share is shrinking and I feel beaten. How do I deal with this?

–  Hanging on by a Fringe


Dear Hanging on,

Small store. Big Store. Megastore. We all feel the pressure from our competition. How should we compete? The knee-jerk reaction is to lower our prices. When it comes to Oriental rugs, the best way is to take a lesson from a generation ago – Give them something special.

Make it job #1 to provide great service. That starts with understanding the product you sell and developing a real passion for for this great art form. Then you will welcome the opportunity to educate your customers because you will feel comfortable fielding their questions. Our grandfathers’ success was based on educating their customer, giving them more service than they expected and most of all building a relationship that made them customers for life.

You don’t need to become a scholar (although Oriental rugs are a fascinating study!). What you need to do is learn all that goes into creating them. Take that simple step and you will unavoidably be awaked to the artistry and craft that goes into creating Oriental rugs of all types and qualities!

We have found, even after 35 years in this business, that we can learn so much from
our suppliers about the changing face of what we see in the market. So, don’t just park your butt on a pile of 9×12’s and worry about the economy, go to Atlanta  and set some time aside to learn from folks who are very willing to teach you about the products they are committed to bringing to market. Staying connected is important for several reasons. You get the opportunity to see all the new merchandise that is available in exciting colors and designs. Your supplier appreciates your support as they spend thousands of dollars to support you with new product, even in this soft economy. Your customers appreciates that you are engaged and involved in the rug business at all levels and you know what each wholesaler sells and where to find it.

Atlanta is expensive for our suppliers and they need our support more than ever. When the economy comes back, and it will, you will be remembered as a leader in your selling area and suppliers will be willing to help you grow your business.

Become passionate about what you sell and it will be spread to everyone with whom you work. Only then will you be able to help your customers appreciate and buy finer and more expensive rugs.

And even better, buy them from you!

Become the Competition!

Keep those questions coming,


About the “The Rug Guys” ©
Sy Mahfuz and Steve Boodakian have been well-respected members of our industry for over 35yrs. Both are third generation experts in the sales and professional service of Oriental Rugs. In 2003 they started The MERA Group to provide much needed product and customer service training to importers, retailers and design professionals.  Steve and Sy can be reached at

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1 Comment

  1. Steve and I have found this forum to be very valuable, hopefully wholesalers and retailers will find it useful. Sy

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