In a first for The Ruggist, I am writing a post based on a question posed by one of my readers, which goes….
“Hey Ruggist, I’ve been searching around for the perfect rug and stumbled onto this site [[WEBSITE NAME REDACTED]] their selection is unworldly and the rug arrived quickly, if I didn’t like it (which I do) I could even return it free of charge. I was curious on “the ruggist”s take on buying rugs online.”
**Note: The website mentioned can be found in the comments section of This post.
As mentioned in my last post, one should always be a little suspect of the source of information and I myself am reading this question over and over wondering if it is nothing more than an advertisement for this web-based rug purveyor. With respect to the questioner, we are going to dissect the question to try and determine if it is an advertisement but also to set up the answer to the true question of “What is The Ruggist’s take on buying rugs online?”
1) “…I’ve been searching around for the perfect rug…” Where have you been searching? And I don’t mean this facetiously. Were you looking at local retail stores and were unhappy with the selection/service, and thus went online? Or have you scoured the internet and determined this is the best site? Or is this just an advertising setup, illustrating that no matter how far and wide someone is to look anywhere, this website is the end all be all of rug selection.
2) “unworldly selection” Presumably, the writer is an astronaut (or extra terrestrial) who shops for rugs in space and thus can truthfully attest to the nature of this company’s selection or it is again an advertising setup or is is both an advertising setup and poor word choice.
3) “return it free of charge” I really want to know more about this. Did you still have to pay for the shipping etc?
I had written everything prior to this before January 14, 2010 at 3:30PM AST when presumably, the same anonymous poster added a secondary comment, one that has subsequently been deleted by me, which read to the effect: “thanks have you had a chance to check out the site I recommended?” It also contained a link to the previously mentioned online rug retailer.
Now I am a huge fan of many things, and will endorse companies and products I love until everyone I know is tired of hearing about them, but gratuitously plugging a website twice in the same post, reeks of shameless self promotion and propaganda, and any doubts I had that the first comment was nothing more than an advertisement for the again aforementioned online rug retailer, have now been set aside and I am firmly in the camp that whomever the poster was, he/she is most certainly somehow affiliated with the website. Furthermore, if there is going to be any shameless plugging and dissemination of propaganda done on this blog it is going to be done by me. Get your own damn blog!
Shall we now focus on the completely valid question at hand that was attempting (albeit poorly) to surreptitiously advertise on my blog? Let us!
Online Rug Retailing: The Final Frontier
As with most of my opinions, you will find my take on Online Rug Retailing to be measured and most carefully worded to avoid offending those I do not wish to offend. So, let me be clear: Online rug retailing (of the sort mentioned in the original question) has its place in the industry, a place relegated to the lower-middle and low end, and has little to no place in the upper-middle, high and luxury end of the market. An extension of this is obviously to answer the posted query with another question: What type of rug are you looking for?
The search for the “perfect rug” as the poster states is a common problem heard daily by every rug salesman I know. Factoring in price, style and time constraints, the definition of perfect is as varied as the number of excuses as to why a rug fitting all the customer prescribed criteria is somehow: “Not quite what I am looking for.” Thus, when considering whether or not you should buy a rug online you must ask yourself if you actually know what you are looking for. Assuming that you know that, we can determine if online rug retailing is for you.
Examples of when you should use an Online Retailer:
Mediocre quality, low cost used or new Iranian (or any other country of origin quite frankly) goods: By all means yes. Go to eBay. Search for Heriz (it’s not likely even a real Heriz). Find one you like and buy it. Who cares if you can’t return it, or aren’t 100% pleased with the colours. It likely only cost you ~$1000(USD) for a 9×12, which is not a bad price! On top of that, the rug is also most likely totally serviceable for what it is. There is such a tremendous glut of goods that fall into this category that those holding them in inventory should look to divest themselves of them via online retailing, and those looking to get into an entry level hand-made rug should take advantage of the opportunity and buy!
As long as the retailer has a good return policy (as in the case of our example “returns free of charge”), I say go for it when you are looking at anything machine-made and also anything priced under say ~$3000(USD) for a 9×12. As anyone who has shopped at a lower end (where these products fall) retail rug store can tell you, the salesmen therein are often cousins of used car salesmen and you can spare yourself the headache and frustration by clicking away at home.
I could continue and make up countless arbitrary categories, but the truth is, in both of these categories the main criteria is one of quality/price. If what you are looking for is of a quality that is reflected by a low price, then by all means buy online.
All of this of course assumes you are comfortable shopping online. If you want to see, touch, feel and experience the rug before you buy it, then by all means, go to your local rug retailer, reputable or otherwise, find a salesman, and buy from them. For you see, when shopping at the lower end, to find what you are looking for, you may not be at the best shoppe in town, but that does not mean the salesperson’s time is not valuable.
Back to the Brick and Mortar
If on the other hand, what you are looking for does not fall into the exceptionally broad category of low quality and low price point as briefly described above, I, without hesitation, suggest, encourage, implore, demand and dare I say command, that you visit your local reputable rug purveyor.
There should be no illusions here however. I am a huge proponent of supporting small business and shopping locally, and cannot personally stand the exploitation of small businesses. If you are going to go into a local retailer and consume the salesman’s time, and find “the perfect rug”, do not then attempt to buy it online and cut the salesman out of his commission. To do so would place you in the company of the other fine folks who lament the passing of local stores and mom and pop retailers, yet foment their demise by favoring big box stores, choosing to go to Macy’s look at a Karastan carpet, and then find it cheaper online. As I alluded to just two paragraphs before, a salesman’s time is valuable, and the needless wasting of his or her time as described in this scenario is just plain unnecessary and unwarranted.
I must admit that I have been exceptionally blessed in my rug career, and have not had to suffer the, what many would call indecency, of selling low end rugs in many many years. But I do acknowledge the need for their existence and realize that even saying so makes me sound more than slightly elitist. HRH The Price of Wales was once overheard (unfortunately for him) saying that “people should know their place”. More broadly, we should know what kind of ruggie, or salesman we are, and likewise we should know what kind of consumer we are, and act accordingly.
The Shameless Plug and Propaganda!
“The Ruggist” is Michael A.C. Christie, who writes and produces this blog because it is just another venue to promote himself. Speaking of which, have you heard of Red Spruce?
Only time will tell if he is acting accordingly.