My older son Ashkan who turned 22 in November is a certified search engine optimization expert. He just finished writing a book called "Internet Marketing Is Not Rocket Science". He sells this e-book online for $19.95. This eBook is designed to create awareness and introduce the many new, different, and innovative ways of marketing anything online.
When he has time, Ashkan helps me at my rug gallery. He loves to learn more about rugs. He identifies himself to my customers as a third generation rug man. The web site he has designed for our rug company provides me with many good contacts and Internet presence.
Few times a week, I encounter customers who do not know what kind of rug they have. Some of them ask if their rug is worth cleaning. Last week I went to a customers home who had an antique 12 x 17 Farahan Sarouk rug and she thought her rug was worth $1,000. I gave her a little information on this beautiful and magnificient rug. We cleaned and repaired the rug and took it back to her house and she and her husband appreciated the job very much.
Some of my colleagues instruct me not to give this kind of information to my customers and instead tell me to buy these rugs for a nominal fee and sell the rugs for a few times as much. This does not not tantalize me. I like to see the lights in my customes' eyes when I tell them their rug is worth $20,000 and not $1,000!
Recently, we have had few customers who came into our rug gallery with their kids. We made the kids happy with giving them toys. The kids were surprised why we gave them toys and dolls, but this is Christmass time and the time for giving and making people specially kids happy. It is an art to make people happy. We try to become artist in this regard. We're practicing.
We only have few days left before 2008 ends. We have many cleaned and repaired rugs but the customers do not show up to pick them up. Why? They don't have time, money or need? Some of these rugs which are left for cleaning, repair, color bleeding, or water damage restorations should be delivered, but customers either do not answer when we call or say they will contact us later to fix the delivery time. We are closing the accounts for the end of the year and need the money for the services we have provided for these customers.
My repairman asked me why we do not charge storage fee if the customers do not pick up their rugs and I said we want these customers to be happy and cannot charge them extra for keeping their carpets in our rug store. We want their repeat business.
It was a very slow day today. We sold a 3' x 5' Persian prayer rug to a customer in the morning. late in the afternoon, a customer reluctantly bought a 2' x 8' runner for her hallway. Paying many bills, sending e-mails, making few phone calls was what I did today. You do not feel that Christmas will be coming in two weeks. You do not see people move to do Christmas shopping.
Our weaver this time wanted to show us how artist she is. She made a photo of the Santa Claus and wove it on a kilim with his beard high lighted. This is for sale for $195 with free shipping in the U.S. continent. The size is 2' 7" x 4' 9". It is all wool.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that a customer had a big hand knotted Turkish rug. It was too big for her office, so she wanted us to make the rug smaller. She also wanted us to make a runner by attaching the two border. Here, you can see the rug before and after the cosmetic surgery!!
I was browsing the Internet and I found some interesting statistics that I would like to share with you:
* In 2005, Carpet shipments totaled more than 2 billion square yards or roughly 19 billion square feet. The total amount was almost $14 billion at the factory level. * 45 percent of the world’s carpet is produced by the United States. * 85 % of the U.S. carpet is supplied by factories located in Dalton, Georgia.
These were the statistics that the Carpet and Rug Institute has gathered for wall to wall carpeting. I could not find any reliable statistics on hand knotted rugs, but based on my other findings from here and there, the sales volume of hand knotted rugs including tufted and area rugs might amount to $1 billion per year.
I would love to see the information and statistics other experts and scholars have gathered.
"I don't want to spent a lot of money. I want a good quality rug with good material, desired size, with colors to match the interior design of my room and color combination of my furniture"!!
This is what I hear these days from many customers. Is it really possible to find such a rug? When you have money, size, color, design and many other limitations, lady, you have to compromise and lose something to buy your desired rugs. You only want to spend few hundred dollars and yet expect so much. That is not possible.
When these customers who do not want to spend a lot of money to buy a rug are directed towards area machine made rugs, they say what is the material of this rug and when they hear nylon or polypropylene, they ask for wool or another types of material. Is it possible to pay for a Volkswagen and get a Mercedes? Of course not. What do you say to these customers?
A lady who had bought few rugs earlier this week returned today with her friend, another nice lady looking for a small rug to match two of the small rugs she had bought before. She could not select the right piece and called her son and asked him to take photos of the rugs they had at home and e-mail the photos to her cell phone. This was done and she could finally select the piece which would match the other pieces at home. Thanks to technology which provided us the opportunity to sell rugs.
I asked her if she needed rug pads for the rugs she had bought and she said yes she needed the rug pads. She also bought a couple of rugs today. The bad part of the story was when she liked a round 3 x 3 rug and said she would expect us to give this round rug to her as a free gift without charging her!! I told her that I would give her a discount on this, but she did not accept and said I am your returning and repeat customer and I will continue to comeback to your store. To make her happy I agreed and gave her the rug. She left our store with a big smile on her face and said she would return again very soon. She also got several of my business cards to pass on to her friends who may need rugs.
In the past few days, we have done many kilim cleaning, repair and water damage restoration. Almost all those customers who have brought us these kilims have been in entertainment business, or have designers, musicians and somehow have had art appreciation.
Kilims are very decorative and can be used on the floor as floor covering, on the walls as wall hanging, on the bed as bed covers, on sofas, on tables and in many other places. The designs of kilims have gone under less changes based on the customers' tastes compared with rugs. therefore, kilims are more original and authentic than rugs.
Today, among other rugs, we received two kilims from two different customers. One was a 6 x 9 kilim for cleaning and repair. The other piece was a Varni kilim runner made with a combination of cotton and silk in Moghan area in Ardabil province in north west of Iran. The customer's dog had peed on this fine kilim which belonged to her friend and she wanted us to take care of the cleaning.
We were also busy with sale and doing some administrative jobs and paper work. I left work at 5:00 pm for home.
Before I close my rug store this afternoon, a lady walked in carrying an area rug for cleaning. I walked toward her and got the rug from her. It was an extremely dirty rug. It had a kind of Zebra design. I measured the rug and said it would cost her $125 to have it cleaned and she could pick it up in a week. She said $125 would be too much for her at this time and she prefers to bring the rug back after the Christmas. I said what if we clean the rug and she picks it up after the holidays. I did not want to lose her rug and her business. She agreed. After I issued her a receipt, I said if you need your rug for the Christmas, you can pick it up next week and pay us after the holiday season is over. She was so surprised and could not believe me and I told her I did really mean it. She left our store happily and said she would comeback soon after she pick up her rug to buy a hand made rug from us.
It was Saturday today. We picked up four rugs from a customer's house for cleaning and repair. One of them was a very old and antique Sarouk from early 1900. It was 12 x 18 and almost in good condition. Another rug was an antique Farahan also nearly in good condition.
later in the day, we sold two small Afgan rugs to a lady who was looking for rugs to give to two of her friends as Christmas gifts. One rug was 2 x 4 ($95) and the larger one was 2 x 6 ($145). The foundation and the pile of these rugs were wool. The prices were very reasonable and affordable that she could not resist. It is not a bad idea to give small rugs as gifts with this kind of price.
We just concluded the statistics for our 3-day Rug Tent Sale. We were plus meaning that we covered our expenses and earned some money and financially it was a success for us. We sold a little bit of everything including area rugs, Persian and Oriental rugs. We also received rugs for cleaning and repair.
At this time, I do not know when we will repeat the tent sale again, but this first experience was a good one.
After our successful Rug Tent Sale (Nov. 28-30, 2008), our market picked up a little bit and for the first two days of the week we sold several other area and hand knotted rugs. We also received few good rugs for cleaning and repair. But yesterday and the day before that we were not busy at all. Few customers came into our rug gallery, but they were not serious customers and did not know what they were looking for.
It is almost 3 weeks before Christmas and we should be awfully busy, but people are worried about their tomorrow and their future and even those who have money, are not mentally ready to spend!
It is Friday morning 6:15 am and I am writing my post number 300. Having a rug blog and posting real stories about my professional career has been a real joy for me during the past 14 months since I started this wonderful blog. Many readers from around the world have found my blog and have communicated with me.
I hope I will have enough true and interesting stories to make few posts every week on my blog.
Few days ago, we went to a customers house to pick up two rugs for cleaning. The rugs were very old Karastan Kerman machine made area rugs. The rug pads were not the right kind and the standard pads suitable for hard wood floors. They had been spoiled over the years and were attached to the back of the rugs. The rugs were so dirty that made the back of our car dirty and full of filth, dust and dirt. here I am posting few photos. The rugs came out alright after the cleaning.
It was Monday today and I went to work at 8:30 am. We organized and divided several rugs and kilims which we had received during the past three days for cleaning and repair. Later in the day, two ladies walked into our rug store. They were looking for several rugs in different sizes and color combinations. They bought several pieces and at the end, I gave them few booklets, rug buying tips & secrets, rug vacuum cleaning tips, rug storage tips and etc. They left our shop happily. A lady who had bought three kilims from us yesterday, brought them back and exchanged them with a Senneh kilim with higher price and paid the difference. A couple also came in and bought a 5 x 8 area rug. They insisted in getting discount and I said our sale was ended last night. To make them happy, I gave them a little discount.
I did not feel like staying late at work today and left for home at 6:00 pm.
Rug Blog is a wonderful way to communicate with those who care about rugs of any kind. In this blog, I, Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay) write about my everyday experience with Persian, Oriental and area rugs, and the people that I meet and talk with. I live and work in Los Angeles, where I have a rug gallery. I love my job. It is full of excitement. I hope you enjoy your visit and share your ideas and comments with me.
Rug is my PASSION. I grew up with it since it was my family business and my father's job. I have a bachelor's degree in Industrial Management, a Master's degree in Business Administration, MBA and a second Master's degree in Educational Planning and a Ph.D. in Educational Planning from the University of Southern California, USC in Los Angeles. I am a Board member to the Iranian Carpet Exporters' Association based in Tehran. I am a member of the Textile Group of Los Angeles, TGLA. I am a Board member to the Textile Museum Associate of Southern California, TMA/SC. I am also an Industry Partner to the American Society of Interior Designers, ASID Los Angeles Chapter with more than 1,700 members. I am also the Editor in Chief of the "Iranian Hand Woven Rug" quarterly. I have a rug gallery in Los Angels. I am also the president of the Iranian American Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. I have an active rug blog: http://rugmaster.blogspot.com/. In this blog, I, Dr. Khosrow Sobhe write about my everyday experience with Persian, Oriental and area rugs, and the people that I meet and talk with. They may be customers, friends, designers, or just ordinary people. I meet them in my rug gallery on 1655 South La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles (Tel. 310-770-9085) or else where.