Business owner pulls the rug out from traditional industry practices
Carpet retailer has a brick-and-mortar store but uses the Internet to help 'democratize the process'
By Sandra Bretting
November 19, 2014 Updated: November 21, 2014 10:46pm
Amir Mireskandari - SearsRugs.com Founder
Buying a rug has always involved a chain of people: importers, wholesalers and then retailers.
"People have never liked walking into a rug store because first there's the sticker shock with so many people involved, and then they're buying 'blind' because they feel like they don't know enough about the product," said Amir Mireskandari.
Mireskandari, 44, whose background lies in rug sales and store liquidations, is trying to change that through the Internet.
This month, his company, eCommerce Sourcing Solutions, joined with retail giant Sears to launch SearsRugs.com. The site offers more than 20,000 rugs, ranging in price from $20 to $10,000.
"We're trying to democratize the process," Mireskandari said. "Who said rugs have to be an investment? If you give people a nice design at a budget price, they won't be devastated three years later when they get a new couch and the rug doesn't match, so they need another one."
The CEO earned bachelor's and master's degrees in business before starting his career. Early on, he worked with stores that were going out of business or shutting locations to liquidate their inventory. Clients included Linens 'n Things, Levitz Furniture and Sears.
Contacts with Sears
Those contacts at Sears came in handy in 2012, when Sears agreed to let Mireskandari build a website and infrastructure to support SearsRugs.com, which launched this month.
He spent $500,000 of his own capital to do that, while Sears lent its name and a customer database in the millions.
"We call it 'big data,' " Mireskandari said. "It would take at least a decade for my team to ramp up and reach the kind of audience they (Sears) have, not to mention the millions of dollars we'd have to spend in marketing."
While creating the Sears website, Mireskandari and his team made sure to standardize the number of styles and sizes of rugs available, so the program could work with any retailer. Now he's approaching other large chains that don't have a presence in the rug business about launching similar websites.
Perfect for online
"Rugs are the perfect Internet product because they're easy to ship, there's little damage to them and there's a decent profit margin," Mireskandari said.
His company also helps people who are in the rug business but want to change the way they work.
The Internet has altered business so much that Mireskandari decided to return to school - this time Harvard - in 2009 to earn an additional MBA.
"I was sitting next to CEOs who are responsible for 15,000 employees, which was humbling," he said. "But I needed help in defining the direction of my company, since my chief job is to communicate our strategy to clients and others."
In addition to his Internet business, Mireskandari owns a store called Rug and Décor Outlet in the Memorial area.
"But the future is with the Internet because the infrastructure to run them has finally caught up with sales," Mireskandari said. "People can request samples online and it's still cheaper for us to send those out than to process a return if they don't like the rug in their home."
Traditional-Antique Red Runner by Anadol Rugs
Thousands of years ago, cultures in various parts of the world included intricately patterned and hand-woven rugs as a part of royal and upscale life. The rug was meant to cusion and warm up the feet, and protect them from hard floor, sharp pieces, cold stone and dust. Primarily in the eastern part of the world, rugs were mostly hand-woven with great care and made of wool, silk, jute and linen.
The rug was soon associated with the luxury of the royalty. The kings' palaces had rugs and long runners everywhere -- in entrances, rooms, corridors, ballrooms, halls, assemblies and private chambers. Perhaps this is how the term "Red Carpet" became popular and was quickly associated with honor, respect and hospitality.
American homes typically have rugs and carpets. The cold climate makes people appreciate the importance of rugs in their lives. Today we have a carpeted America. The stone and wooden floors in homes and buildings are almost always covered. Necessity and comfort blend with cultural trends to create a rug revolution. Many home-owners have replaced wall-to-wall beige carpeting with designer area rugs in various styles. Rug styles and designs range from traditional to contemporary and modern, antique styles and silks, and to many people's surprise, there are rugs that speak to you, that speak your language, that when placed in your home will speak for you. What's more, the rug that decorates your room creates an atmosphere around it.
It is well known that fashion recycles itself like the seasons. New designs, patterns, styles and colors are seen in the market every year and in every season. What changes quickly for attire, also applies to area rugs, albeit at a slower pace. As we move into the New Year, the past few months have been speaking gray, silver and taupe in the rug industry. A large portion of the trendiest pieces that rug vendors are carrying today come in grays, silvers and taupes, sending an almost monochromatic message but with that sparkle.
The Silver Grey Rug Is In.
Interior designers Sherwin-Williams points in this direction as well.
A well-known vendor that has proven this trend is Nourison Rugs, featured on Sears Rugs.
nourison silver grey rug
Vallencierre Silver Grey Rug
Contour Silver Grey Rug
While the bright and colourful can fit some places, these soft tones are quickly finding a place in many hearts and homes. Many top-quality area rugs come with a shimmer that creates an uplifting atmosphere. At the same time, the colors are not loud at all. They do not shout, they whisper.
An area rug in taupe shades will blend very well with your walls, ceilings and furniture, especially wood. Taupe as a base color has several advantages. Dust, dirt and pet marks will not show prominently. This does not mean one should not care for the rug and not keep it clean. However, you can afford to push the cleaning to the weekend and reduce emergencies. While contemporary, modern, new wave and trendy are words that come to mind with taupe, silk rugs look astonishingly beautiful in taupe. Heirloom masterpieces carrying a silk tradition across generations make your room look royal. SearsRugs.com proudly carries many such rugs.
Peshawar Taupe Area Rug
Egton Taupe Area Rug
Be a trendy shopper this holiday season and turn your house into a warm and welcoming home that is an expression of who you are.
Sari Silk Infographic