Tell That To Rolex

This is the second in our exclusive series, “Ask The Rug Guys”. Last week The Rug Guys “hit the road” figuratively speaking, to ask the question, “What can we as an industry do to make Oriental Rugs special?” In the not so distant past, to buy and own a quality Oriental Rug was a sign of status.  In 1985, Steve ran an ad in Lawyers Weekly with the headline; “CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE” The copy went on to say that if your office had an Oriental Rug in the waiting room, then you must be successful. To own a fine Oriental Rug in your home or office was special. Oriental rugs were a status symbol. And today? No one can argue that over the past 20 years or so, real or perceived, we have seen Oriental Rugs as a category become more of a commodity and lose their status as a art form among “Main Street” consumers.  Many said that it was because we have become a throwaway society that really doesn’t care much about buying quality products that they are proud to own and that will last. Our response was, “Tell that to Rolex.”  The Wall Street Journal is loaded with ads for Rolex, Jaeger, Patek-Phillipe and other high-end quality timepieces. While Timex, Seiko and other low to moderate priced watches have captured a huge share of the market, the value and status of the premium high quality timepieces has not been diminished. Many we spoke to blamed the erosion of the public’s perception of Oriental Rugs on the explosion of Tufted and machine made qualities that have made our product category, floor fashion affordable to everyone. Our response was, “Tell that to BMW.” Not for a minute was the BMW brand tarnished by Hyundai, Kia and other brands that made great styling affordable. The great irony is that we still weave art and, today, oriental rugs capture a wider artistic spectrum than they ever did. As has been true for generations, really great qualities are still being woven. The challenge before us all is to work diligently to educate the consumer to the art of hand knotted Oriental rugs. No segment of our industry can do it on its own.  Suppliers and importers must spend the time and resources to educate those retailers and design professionals that stock and sell their rugs and instill in them passion for this great art form.  Sellers – retailers and designers must devote the time to reach out to their suppliers and avail them selves of the tomes that have been written about the art of Oriental rugs.  Then, the real magic can...

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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. Q: 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 A: 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...

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Grab A Partner by Steve Boodakian and Sy Mahfuz of The Mera Group

Let’s face it, professional designers drive the bus when it comes to many of the wealthy buyers out there with which we want to do business. As traditional Rug and Carpet retailers we all face the challenge of competing with Designer showrooms to capture and grow business with professional designers. This article is for both Rug Retailers and Professional Designers who want to do more than survive in this challenging economy. The best way for professional designers and rug sources to be truly successful in this competitive environment is to establish and maintain strong partnerships. What is a partnership? First and foremost a partnership is based on trust. For the designer they must trust the retailer to protect their professional interests with their clients. Simply stated, this means that once the designer introduces the client to your store you include the designer in all transactions going forward. From the retailer’s perspective, they expect the designer to initiate the client relationship and follow through, and not jump in with their hand out as it comes to a close. Trust is earned through: Respect for the professional ability and skill of your partner Mutual Cooperation Each person taking responsibility to do their part towards a common goal. What is most important is that in the end is: A Partnership exists for the benefit of both.   The RUG SOURCE Let’s start with the Retailer or more specifically THE RUG SOURCE. Why do we use the term “rug source”? Because you may need to adjust your way of thinking. Being a great partner with a professional designer goes far beyond being a great retailer. It takes a commitment to a new set of responsibilities and an understanding that a great designer can bring clients to your door that you would otherwise not sell to. The Rug Source Partner should: 1)    Provide a welcoming and professional selling environment Staff o      Sales o      Support –“from phone to floor” Lighting Displays 2)    Have a clear policy on working with designers Pricing Expectations 3)    Have a thorough knowledge of the product- you are the expert and this is where you can truly separate yourself from many designer showrooms. Weave, wool, dyes, pattern origins and the history behind the art. Suitability for specific use 4)    Have a strong relationship with suppliers-Domestic or overseas Provide accurate and reliable delivery information There can always be glitches and you must be able to resolve problems quickly and efficiently.   5)    Develop an understanding of Color and Design Stay current with Design Trends both within the Rug industry and in home furnishings in general. Have “a good eye” to help the...

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