Back in the “Good old Days”, there were over 15,000 viable brick and mortar rug retail stores. The owners came to markets to buy rugs for stock. They might drop five figures and more. They would walk the market and drop in to multiple dealers to talk, bargain and buy. Now on a good day, there may be 5,000.
Wholesalers stacked the rugs in piles. The traditional idea of the pile was to monopolize the time of the viewer. The more time a viewer spent in location A, the less time they had for location B. Traditionally, the second best location in a show was near the most popular seller. In High Point today, a close-out discount location is near Feizy. Feizy has traffic for all their price points, plus one-of-a-kind stock for established customers who know about them. (Feizy also serves Persian style tea that is the best/only in the market.)
In the old days, oriental rugs effectively all had brand names: Kirman, Bidjar, Heriz, etc. Searching for a rug was easy. Learn the lingo, then size was next because most rugs in a style had a dominant and subordinate (rarer) color combinations. The Indo Srabends in cream that started the Indo Persian era came about because the German market wanted 90& cream and the Persians produced 90% reds.
In the old days, it was easy to search successfully as the brand and style names were known — Kirman, Bidjar, Heriz. The colors were predictable. Red and blue Persian rugs actually sold.
Buyers bought for stock. Today the majority of buyers, interior decorators, by for need not stock.
And then it began to change
Post World War II with the expansion of department stores and the suburbs, Pande Cameron started making continuity program rugs of one design and color combination in a variety of sizes, year after year. The best seller was a Blue and White pattern called Bengali that sold for 35 years. Today, many firs would be happy i a design/color combination sold for 35 months.
Pande Cameron’s only marketing was the back cover of the NEW YORKEr, 50 weeks of the year. Their 1973 ad budget was $320,000. (I was competing with them and checked out cost). In today’s money, $1.8 million dollars would be a deal!. This week’s New Yorker Cover has a Gucci Ad.
Programmed rugs now dominate the market, especially in hand tufted and machine made.
With programmed rugs, finding the size is a snap, but today the brand is a manufacturer, a trade name or a style name. And the color is the latest fad in the market. This sounds more like a game than a buying opportunity.
Buyers Buy for Need
The majority of the actual buyers in anyone market are interior decorators. They buy for need. Their customers are irregular users with purchases spread over years. Interior decorators buy multiple times a year for customers with a variety of tastes and budgets.