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Vendors and Sources: Online, Overseas, Auctions, GOB's

Purchasing overseas

Misconception: Foreign travel gives you the best chance to buy a rug from the source.

Truth:  Tourist buys Can Burn.  It sounds romantic to select a rug yourself in the surrounding of a Middle Eastern bazaar.  In fact, it's a chancy way of doing business.  There's a large buying gap between the tourist and the seasoned professional rug buyer.  Foreign sources reserve their finest pieces for the discerning importing merchants who buy regularly, and who know an accept only the best.  The local tourist markets often serve as the outlet for less desirable merchandise.  Don't either be misled by the foreign guide with the "key" to the "source".  The end result can be an expensive souvenir for you and a handsome commission for the guide.  I have seen many "finds" from both friends and family.  Almost universally, the better quality and better buy was around the corner rather than a trip halfway around the globe. 

Take a look here for an rug dealer's experience at the Oriental Rug bazaars

 

Purchasing at a travelling auction / Going out of Business

Misconception:  Auctions are a great place to find a bargain.

Truth:  Auctions may be fun and exciting, but also the worst place to make a thoughtful decision about a rug!  Most laymen are not qualified to evaluate the condition of a rug, to identify the presence of dry rot or other damage beyond the superficial.  Nor can the consumer make a calm, unhurried decision about an item while under the pressure of bidding price against unknown buyers.  There are two types of auctions of significance to the rug trade: first, the established (permanent) auction houses such as Sotheby's, and, secondly, the itinerant hotel auctions and Internet auctions geared toward the unsuspecting consumer.  Consider the limited selection and opportunity for inspection, and the "as is/final sale" conditions of all auctions, a "bargain" can end up an expensive lesson.  Even if you find a piece in one of the reputable and established auction houses, be sure to have an expert examine, evaluate and advise you about your intended purchase. At all costs, avoid itinerant hotel and online "no reserve" auctions.  Even at the best hotels, or websites, experiences consistently yield the quality of goods from such sources to be inferior.  Purposeful mislabeling of rugs, which if questioned by an authority can be passed off as a "mistake", is often practiced by these auctions.  Also, prices may be carefully controlled by devious means.  Traveling auctions may have "shills" in the audience and "sealed" or "telephone" bids may be used to falsely escalate bids of unsuspecting buyers.  After the auction leaves town, its sponsors can rarely be found.

Take a look here for an article on deceptive advertising using "Going Out of Business" as an marketing tactic

 

Misconception:  SALE! SALE?  NO SALE!!!

Truth:  For many years, consumer pressure for retail "sales" and "discounts" have proved fertile ground for overstated values and grossly exaggerated discounts in retail stores.  Although historically the rug industry generally avoided sales, the current market is different.  Today, it is important for the consumer to understand the traditional American business ethics do not prevail universally in the rug marketplace.  Don't fall for the gimmick.  Beware of the "60%, 70%, 80% off SALE"What could be better than an Oriental rug at 60-80% off? Frankly speaking, nothing could be worse!  Don't be fooled… no matter how convincing the advertising line or the salesman's saga.  Despite claims to the contrary, rug dealers are in business to make a reasonable profit after covering the expense of salaries, advertising, rent, electricity, etc.  Remember also that a good quality oriental rugs need never be sold at a loss in the course of business.  Next time you see an advertisement for an incredible 60% off plus another 15% for bringing in the ad, ask yourself "75% off WHAT?"Follow this example:  Let's assume a merchant is willing to sell a rug at COST with only a margin to cover expenses.  Most dealers have overheads approximating at leas 20% of sale (and much more than 20% if there's high rent or a heavy advertising budget).  For a dealer to cover those expenses and still give 70% off he must show an original price of OVER FOUR TIMES the rug's cost - in other words, a markup of 400%!  Only to break even!  In fact, after figuring in all expenses and profits we find that many "discount" dealers actually mark up goods 600%, 700%,800% and more!!!  All this to create spectacular "markdowns".  As a point of comparison, department stores typically mark up goods 100% (twice their cost), a figure which includes profit.  For years, the department stores' markup has traditionally been the highest in the industry.  In final analysis, the 60-80% discount is meaningless if the article never sold at the pre-discount price or if the "60-80% off" tag remains year around.  Offering an item for sale at $3,495 (60% off $8750) is especially easy when the item should rightfully sell for $2000 - there's ample room left to "bargain".  Unfortunately, many buyers walk away thinking they've gotten a "buy" only to find out later they paid much too much.  This pricing scheme is a terrible ploy, and creates a false sense of saving based upon a phony and unrealistic original price.  Beware of Church or Charitable Organization "Sales" Periodically, church or charitable organizations host itinerant "sales".  When you buy from those "sales" you're not buying from an establishment where

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