rugrag.com, May 1st, 2008 Retailers across the country have taken quite a lumping from economic slowdown. As Deena Bouknight of Flooring News stated in article 3221, "We are currently embroiled in both a war–with Iraq–and a battle, with the economy." In reference to a recent High Point International Home Furnishings Market (an expo for those in the flooring and furniture industries), there was a lower attendance than expected. Epperson of Mann, of Armistead & Epperson Ltd. was quoted as saying: “We’ve lost a lot of retailers already... We’ll probably lose more. In the near-term, people are looking at that with distress, but these are the weakest retailers. The ones who survive will be the strongest ones and the ones who are in the best shape to be there when the business comes back.”
While uncertainty exists in regards to the upcoming months and years, companies have been emphasising key elements important to the ongoing sustainability of their businesses. Kami Navid of Jaunty Co., interviewed by Deena Bouknight, emphasised the importance of providing quality products with excellent designs and customer service as their main objectives in maintaining long term advantages in the Industry.
Those who anticipate holding out the economic slowdown are seeking the need to downsize square footage, while other larger companies are making significant changes to their product lines. As noted in HomeTextilesToday.com, New York based importer Ebisons Harounian Imports, are looking to expand upon what they call their "Green Label" program. This program, as Michael Harounian stated, is an ongoing work in progress to import rugs which are created in the more traditional, centuries old process of chemical free washing, and vegetable dyes to give color to the wool used in their rugs. Harounian also spoke: "As the public awareness about our environment increases, the average consumer is looking for eco-friendly home furnishing products, which has motivated us in coming up with additional environmental friendly rugs and carpets.” While not all retailers have the capacity to make this transition to a more eco-friendly product, the need for ingenuity within this market is of utmost importance. As noted in FurnitureToday.com, in an article dated April 7th, 2008, Arash Yaraghi of Safavieh stated: “I’m actually excited about this market,” While also adding, “...in tough times, we need more innovation.” Dr. Khosrow Sobhe of RugIdea.com, a Los Angels based Retail Showroom specializing in cleaning, repair and oriental rug sales, was also quoted in his RugMaster Blog as saying: "...but what can we do at this difficult time. We should work harder and smarter."
While there remains little control over the larger scope of this lag in the economy, Oriental Rug Retailers are making significant changes to their ways of doing business. Reorganizing strategies, stepping back and assessing the situation is something any retailer would need to consider in these tough times. Perhaps one of the most important elements to take into account is that of increased value which will be provided to customers and society as a whole. Whether reduction physical presence of square footage of a store front to maintain solid values for consumers, or taking a more proactive approach to convert to Greener, eco-friendly products. In a way, the changes and general implications of actions being made be importers now may be considered as a denouncing of previously established norms regarding the use synthetic and chrome dyes: A reverting back to the roots of Oriental Rug production. Renouncing old ways in the use of chemically treated merchandise, and allowing for a cleaner, friendlier product to re-establish the essence of oriental rugs as stemming from Renewable Resources.