Buying Oriental Rugs: Big Brands vs Your Local Rug Store
There are many benefits to purchasing floor coverings from a local Oriental rug store versus a big brand store. Sam Presnell from The Rug Gallery gives insight on how to choose the right rug from the right seller.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery, with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher and I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.
Sam Presnell: Hey, John.
Why Many People Believe Big Brands Are the Best Value
John Maher: Sam, today we’re talking about big brands vs your local Oriental rug store. And why do people perceive big brands of rugs and rug stores as a good value, do you think?
Sam Presnell: I think it is what we call perception. It’s really hard to beat perceptions. [They’re] not always true, but a lot of people perceive them to be — they have one or two things they bought, and they found them, and they have all those prices on that one or two items that they found, and then, all of sudden, everythingthey buy from them would have to be in that same scenario.
And you know, big business, it is not like that, they make what they can, they lose what they have to, there’s loss leaders, there’s all kinds of things that are made just for selling cheaply, and there’s liquidations and buy outs and things like that that also play into good values as well as cheap prices. If you look at Overstock, those guys just buy the leftovers from the marketplace that they need to get rid of. And that’s a good way for them to get rid of it in a big mass way. So there are good values in some of those cases. But in a lot of cases, it’s buyer beware.
I think that a lot of people get caught up into thinking that whoever is going to always have the lowest price on that particular thing [is best]. Unfortunately for the small guys, the brick and mortar stores like The Rug Gallery is, we realized a long time ago that we have to play in that same space that they play in, and it’s very hard to compete with them in advertising and in margins. But if we have the same goods, we have to be at the same price, so we have adapted a new set of pricing.
Basically, we give a Rug Gallery guarantee, which means that anywhere you buy this particular rug that we have here, that you find anywhere in the United States at lower price, then we’ll give you that difference back plus 10%, up to $100. So that is the way that we approached the perceived, “Everybody is cheaper than us.” We always try to have the lowest Internet price.
Also, there’s something that’s going on in the industry, which maybe, buyers aren’t aware of. [It] is what we call MAP Pricing. That’s called Minimum Advertised Price. And, basically, most of the stuff you buy– if [for example], you try to buy a Rolex anywhere in the United States, they’re all going to be the same price wherever you buy. And that’s kind of what certain brands [are doing.] They’re protecting their brands, they don’t want people mucking up their distribution structure and all that. That would be really easy to do in an Internet situation. Somebody just cutting the price, working on a 5% margin, and driving everybody out of business. That could happen.
Most companies realized they had to control their brand and their distribution. And so they’ve come up with a plan, basically to make that happen, and what they call MAP pricing.
What people are not aware of is that, pretty much all the rugs you see on all the rug sites that are out there, we all have the same price because we’re all running the MAP. There are some times during the year– Black Friday, special events, maybe three or four times a year, we’ll all give us an extra 10%, 15%, 20% [off], depending on the company that we’re allowed to discount for a period of time. And so, we all do that in conjunction. I think anybody who’s worth their weight in salt here, as far as rug dealing and competing online, and competing with big-boxes, they’ve all adjusted to it. And the ones that haven’t, they’re no longer here.
Differences Between Big Brands and a Local Oriental Rug Store
John Maher: What are some of the other differences between the big brands and the small, local Oriental rug store?
Sam Presnell: I think the big thing that you find from the big brands that are in your marketplace, is that their selection is very, very limited. What they have is nice, and fits their market and what they’re trying to approach. If they’re looking at their customers [who are] only going to spend $199 for a [rug and that] is the top of their price range, they’re going to focus on that. And they don’t really cater to the upper end or the quality. Or maybe what I would call the quality side of the market, or fashion side of the market. They’re more oriented to the meat and potatoes and mass market stuff.
I think what you’d find in a local Oriental rug store is selection. You’re going to find much better rug quality there. You’re going to find staff that’s knowledgeable, in most cases. They’ve been there a long, long time and understand the rug business. They can tell you how something is going to perform and not perform, and what’s the better to buy out of the many choices you have. A lot of stores are like The Rug Gallery. We have the try-before-you-buy concept, which, basically, allows you to sign it out, without paying for it or buying it, and look at it in the home, maybe with a couple of other rugs before you make that decision, so you see at home. Stores like The Rug Gallery are full service. So, we don’t just sell product and get it out the door, we also repair and clean it and offer cleaning supplies and things like thatand also going to help you with advise for doing that.
Should You Buy Your Rug from a Local Oriental Rug Store?
John Maher: Okay. And why do you think that people should buy their oriental rugs locally?
Sam Presnell: That’s a great question for me.
John Maher: Yes.
Sam Presnell: Well [I’m a] little biased there, but again I think it goes back to what’s the difference between the big brands and a local store? And I think as in a small store you are dealing with families, you are dealing with individual people, you are dealing with people who are held accountable. So if you’ve got a problem [and] you call back the big store, you are dealing with some marketer that’s just there to take a phone call for a complaint and then pass you on or e-mail to somebody else to take care of it, or you are calling Bangladesh or Tel Aviv or somewhere like that. The rug stores that are local, they deal with you locally and I think that’s the big difference between a big box and a big brand. We have a face. They know they are invisible and there really is nobody there you can actually scream at.
John Maher: Right.
Sam Presnell: In a rug store, you can.
John Maher: Yes, for better or worse, you’re right, but like you said, people know you. They can call you on the phone, they can come into the store and say, “Hey Sam, you know you sold the rug to me and this is the issue that I am having or whatever and let’s talk about it” and you’re just not going to get that kind of conversation and that kind of service at a big store.
Sam Presnell: I believe so. I hope that’s true. Also I wanted to put this out there for everybody — it’s also for the health of their community. I mean, people don’t realize but retail is hurting and you have seen it even at the big guys or big brands are hurting too because of the online business and one day we may wake up and maybe that’s what is okay with everybody because price is king. But there won’t be that robust retail shopping type of situation that we have now. I mean it was even diminishing when I was younger, and I think that’s very important and I think this generation coming up, they are all about community and I think it’s very important they support their community and the smaller guys if they can. I mean there’s always exceptions to those rules, but I think as a whole if you can, get out there and shop and talk to the people out there in the community and you will find really nice people that want to help.
John Maher: That’s really great advice. Sam, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sam Presnell: All right John. My pleasure. Thank you.
John Maher: And for more information about Sam, The Rug gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets, visit ruggallerycincy.com or call (513) 793-9505 and make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes and if you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, I would appreciate that. See you next time on the Rug Gallery.