Used oriental rugs are commonly found in estate sales and online auction sites. Sam Presnell, owner of The Rug Gallery, discusses how to determine if a used oriental rug is worth buying. Listen or read more to learn how to decide on whether or not to buy a used oriental rug for sale.
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.
John: Sam, today, we're talking about used oriental rugs for sale. Where would people typically see used oriental rugs for sale?
Sam: Well, I think the biggest sites today are the auction sites; Craigslist is another great place [where] you'll find a lot of rugs and carpets for sale, your estate sales in your town or local community. We have another online auction site called Everything But The House. We call it EBTH. It's very, very popular and has gained popularity worldwide even. They're growing leaps and bounds. Your local dealers as far as rug dealers because a lot of rug dealers will take rugs in trade and things of that nature as well. Those are usually your best areas to look at.
Used Oriental Rugs at Reasonable Prices
John: Is buying a used rug a good way to get an oriental rug at a reasonable price?
Sam: Most definitely. That's the most interesting part about it. A used rug just usually doesn't have, I would say, about a half to a third of value of what it would cost to buy that rug new. There's a lot of value for somebody as long as they like the rug. They're going to get a tremendous savings over buying something new, [it's] similar to buying a car you would be in the same situation.
Until a rug gets a certain age and collectible type, you're not going to really see a rug go beyond what a new rug would be. Most time it's going to be a half to a third or 25 percent even of what a new rug might be.
How to Value a Used Oriental Rug
John: How does one value a used oriental rug? They see a rug maybe they even see it on Craigslist or Everything But The House or something like that, and they just have no idea whether or not they are overpaying for that rug or not.
Sam: That's the challenge. That's the real challenge. As much information as you can get about it if there's any brand to that product ... is there a label on it. Some people call me up. I had somebody call me up from Florida a while back who's basically was in a bottom of one of those storage units. There was [sic] two rugs in the storage unit and it actually the labels from The Rug Gallery on the back. I don't know, we probably label every rug we have come in here with our logo.
He called up and said, "Hey, I've got these rugs and then on the back had this number." I said, "Great. Then, I can tell you exactly what that is." It was interesting. He did a lot of work there. He was in shock and he had some really nice rugs that these folks had bought about 20 years ago.
I get my idea of what the value would be. If there's any branding on the back of the rug you can look for one of the four corners, which is usually something that might identify it as a hand-woven rug or machine-woven rug or if it's wool or whatever it may be made out of.
If you go online, you can sometimes research names and find the products that are basically the same product made by the same manufacturer today and you might get an idea what their range in prices and then equate that to being used.
John: Like you say, a used one might be a half of the value of a new one, something like that.
Sam: I think easily half. I'm thinking maybe a little less than that sometimes. It depends on, again, the popularity of that coloration or design or the quality of that brand sometimes can bring more than that as well.
What to Watch for When Buying a Used Rug
John: Are the things that you should be watching out for like I know we've talked about travel lanes appearing in the rugs, or you might have some discoloration on one side where it's faded or something like that. Are those things that you should watch out for when you see the rug in person?
Sam: Yes. When you buy a used rug, those things are you'll want to look for is stains. Does it have any stains on them? Maybe there's doggy stains or something like that and that's permanent. It's not going to come out. Has it got damage to the edges, is it missing borders? Is it missing the serging? That's fairly expensive to repair to get that put back to condition so you can use it again. Those are some of the little things you should be aware of and think about when you're buying a used rug.
Vintage and Antique Rugs
John: When does a used oriental rug become a vintage oriental rug or an antique oriental rug?
Sam: That makes me laugh. That's on the customer. It depends on the dealer you go to, of course. Things could change. In the rug business, it's like used cars sometimes and it's buyer beware. It's interesting how a rug can get more valuable and with age and be a vintage rug when it's brand new, but it's considered vintage or whatever by that particular person. It's a very confusing world out there, but I always think to me a vintage rug is at least 30 to 50 years old and been around a while.
Use Caution When Purchasing a Used Rug
John: You mentioned buyer beware. Should a buyer be careful about buying a used oriental rug or do you generally feel it's like a good deal?
Sam: A buyer should always beware. If there's something too good to believe it usually is. You shouldn't believe it. That's usually my whole way [of thinking about it]. I'm cautiously optimistic. I always want to find out as much as I can. Then, basically, if you don't know what you're doing and you have no idea, you don't know this person, you don't trust this person, I would say buy what you can afford to take a beating on.
There's a lot of times you're going to buy something that isn't what it's presented to be or what you've been told about it that it is or worth or whatever it was. I would say, if you buy something and you know what? It turns out not to be what you thought it was, who cares? It didn't cost that much. You were just wanted to get a nice memory of the ordeal.
John: I suppose you just don't accept what people say at face value. If somebody says, "Oh, when I bought this rug it was $10,000. This is a Noria, an antique. It's worth tons of money still," that kind of thing. Just be a little bit cautious and do your research.
Sam: Sad but true. I have to say that I've seen ... there are a lot of honest people out there so don't … not everybody is the same. I would say, in the used world of anything, that's a very common characteristic of the seller. It's always hyped out maybe to something that [it] isn't.
John: All right. That's really great information, Sam. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sam: All right, John. My pleasure. Thank you.
John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and oriental rugs and carpets, visit RugGalleryCincy.com. That's rug gallery C-I-N-C-Y dot com or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you could take the time to give us a review as well, we'd appreciate that. I'm John Maher, see you next time on The Rug Gallery.