When shopping for Oriental rugs, try before you buy. It’s important to see and feel an Oriental rug in person before you commit to a purchase, because it’s the only way you’ll truly know if you’ll like the rug, if it will meet your needs, and if it will look good in your home.
John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug gallery 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: Hi, John.
The Caveats of Buying Oriental Rugs Online
John Maher: So Sam, today we are talking about Oriental rugs — try before you buy. So what are some of the typical reasons that a person might not like the rug that they’ve bought?
Sam Presnell: Well, I think in today’s world, where we buy a lot of rugs sight unseen, we buy [rugs] a lot online. You view them as best you can. There’s some really good sites, which have really good digital [photos], but still color is reflective. It can change, and it can change in different situations. The lighting, the way it was shot for the picture, perhaps the way your lighting is in your house or maybe in your office is different than what they used in the picture, and the angles that they shot it at are different. Because rugs have grain to them, they have a dark side and a light side. So what side are you previewing? I think rugs can definitely change from what you see. Also there’s what I call a tactile part of the rug as well, which is the feel of the rug and the quality of the rug. It’s really hard to judge that online, and when you get it home, just because most of the time color looks different in every situation you put it in, it really can be different than what you perceived it online.
When Shopping for Oriental Rugs, Try Before You Buy!
John Maher: Right, so why is it important that you are able to try out a rug in your home before you buy it?
Sam Presnell: Well, I think it’s kind of a unique thing that we grew up with in the industry. That was kind of the way we always sold Oriental rugs — try before you buy. You [could] take several of them home if you wanted, and it was a very easy, convenient way of doing it. And a lot of the times you’d say, “Okay, gee wiz, I’m going to take whatever it is, $1000 or $500 or $10,000 dollars from you, here’s your rug, good luck.” I think [people get a feeling like, “Well if I make a mistake, boy, that's a lot of money” or “Gee, I’m paying this guy a lot of money, I'd like to see [the rug] at home first.” I think it [addresses] a lot of those objections to making a purchase if you can try it. We probably sell about 95% of our rugs as “try before buy.” That’s why our refund period is so short, is because we realize 95% of the time, the customers had it in their house and lived with it for a few days before they made that decision to pay for it. So I think it’s a nice service. I think that in our marketplace, there’s probably a few other people doing it and I can’t imagine who they are, but it’s not something that an Internet company or a department store can do for you. It is something that small, independent rug dealers can do for you, which is a really nice service.
Rug Sizing & Color Issues
John Maher: Right, and like you said, a rug can look so different in a showroom than it does in your house, and often it’s hard to judge if it’s the right size, because the rugs come in so many different sizes. Is it the right size for my room, when I finally get it home and I put my furniture on it? Maybe I thought that I wanted a rug of a certain size and then I get it home, I try it out and I go, “I really need something bigger, this is just way too small,” when I get it home in my room. You know, something like that.
Sam Presnell: Yes, that’s a real common situation you see, especially coming into a store. People are not really good about size, I mean, that’s probably one of the biggest points. I think you made a great point with size. [People] come in and see it hanging on the rack and they look at it and think it’s huge. And when we’re talking about the room, we’ve sold rugs before and we kind of know the landscaping as far as what goes where and what size they need. But people don’t always perceive it the same way [that someone does who is] an expert in the field. So, I would say most people make a size mistake — that’s always, I would think, the number one mistake people make. And then the next one is color. I think one of the things I’ve learned over the years is, it’s kind of hard to explain why this happens but, people come in and think they want a certain color — could be red, green, beige or whatever — and they take that rug home and it looks horrible.
John Maher: Right.
Sam Presnell: And they think, “Oh my God, I don’t want that rug.” So when we let people take things home, we always insist that they take one for us, which is basically a color that looks good with the color they think they want. And you’d be amazed at how often it’s not the color that they think they wanted that works best. And when they get it home, they just say “Wow, that looks fantastic, I’m taking it.”
John Maher: Right.
Sam Presnell: And I think otherwise you might buy it online and think, “Well, that color is perfect.” You get it in there and it’s too strong for the room, it’s too dark, or something like that.
Try Before You Buy Policy
John Maher: What is your try before you buy policy at The Rug Gallery and what do you think that means to your customers?
Sam Presnell: You know what, I’m not sure what it means to customers, because I’ve been doing it for over 40 years. I just look at it as one of the things we can offer that makes us unique. One of our closing procedures is basically, “Why don’t you try it and see what you think?” And I think it takes a lot of pressure off of basically making a sale. [People] are getting to think about it, and they can actually know what they’re getting before they own it. It’d be like taking a car home for 3 days before you actually buy it. Because you’re always saying, “Oh my God, had I known, I would never have bought this.” I think [try before you buy] is something that we offer that is something that we kind of hang our hat on and I think our customers really appreciate that part of it. I know it’s a bit of a hassle. I mean, it would be much easier to just send it home and see if it works perfectly. But I would say probably more than half the sales we make when [people] take them home, it’s just the starting process. So it opens up your head to thinking, “Hmm, maybe red isn’t the color, maybe it should be green,” or whatever. And I think trying it will allow you to basically see what’s wrong, and then at that point helps you in the decision making.
John Maher: Right. So how long can people take their rugs home and try them before they need to make a decision?
Sam Presnell: Well, we’re kind of flexible there. Our rule is 3 days. But, everybody has different situations. So if they just up front say “I need a week,” that’s not unheard. We try to keep it within that 3 days, but there are times we go a week. The big thing for us that we wish that would happen more often, is when people don’t bring it back when they’re scheduled to bring it back, is that they call us and let us know. That’s something I see a lot of on the consumer side. Basically, you took out a very expensive piece of property there and it was all done on a signature. At least let us know that it didn’t work, or “Yes, I’m bringing it back, but I’m not bringing it back today because….” That’s the kind of stuff I would appreciate if our listeners would do that.
John Maher: Yes, good communication always helps to alleviate any kind of problems that you might have. That’s good advice. Alright well that’s really excellent information Sam, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sam Presnell: Alright John, my pleasure.
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 could take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, we’d appreciate that. I’m John Maher, see you next time on The Rug Gallery.