Meet Gregorian Oriental Rugs!
Our Home Furnishings Retailer Spotlight is a series exploring interesting stories and insights from our RM Innovation customers.
Starting a business during a depression may seem a bit counter-intuitive– but that’s exactly what Arthur T. Gregorian did and he never looked back. Founded in the early 1930s, Gregorian Oriental Rugs is currently located in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts and has now been in business for over 80 years.
A gifted storyteller and salesman, Arthur sold rugs by visiting customers in their homes and offices. He once told a college president that his office should be decorated with a rug from his store because “no one can behave badly in a room with an Oriental rug.”
We chatted with President and third-generation rug retailer Scott Gregorian, the grandson of Arthur T. Gregorian, to learn more about their business, success, and the advice they’d give new Rug retailers.
J: So, how did this business get started?
Scott: My Grandfather Started the business in a basement shop in Wellesley, Massachusetts in the late 1920s. Over time, the business grew larger and moved into Newton. My father continued to grow the business, building two additions onto the original building.
Today, after almost 80 years, we are in our third generation and have almost 85 years of history behind us. From our roots in traditional Persian rugs to today’s transitional and contemporary designs, colors and materials, Gregorians’ continues to lead the way. As changes like the internet continue to alter what it means to be in business today, we’ll continue to adjust and grow.
J: How did your grandfather’s business make it through the Great Depression?
Scott: A lot of hard work, and the ability to change things and force other’s will to go the way he wanted. He had an amazing ability to bend the world to his way of thinking.
J: What’s your favorite part about being a Rug/Home Furnishings Retailer?
Scott: The one thing that people always say when they come in our store is that we are so lucky to work with so much beauty. Sometimes you lose sight of the trees while watching the forest. Every time someone says that it refocuses you and you see it all again. We feel very lucky to be here.
J: What is the most important thing you have learned from your business?
Scott: It’s important to know what you’re doing, know your rugs, know your inventory. When I was growing up, I would go with my grandfather and father to look at rugs. They would look at different rugs and say “No… No… No.” I didn’t understand why they were saying no to some rugs and yes to others. I’d ask why and they would say “Oh, you just know.”
They were trying to say that if you see enough stuff, you eventually learn the colors, quality, and condition that matter then you do “just know.” But this internalized knowledge learned over time does make it very difficult to articulate.
J: What do you feel makes your business stand out?
Scott: One thing that people who come in feel is that we are very much unlike any other rug company they are aware of. The way we do business, the choices we make in stock—we just have a very different style. And we tend to focus on unique, one-of-a-kind– pieces, but also stock quality contemporary and modern designs. We really like the stories behind the rugs as much as we like the fact that these rugs are today’s hot color. It’s as much about the rugs and workmanship, and trying to impart that to our customers as anything else.
J: What do you think is today’s biggest challenge in the Rug & Home Furnishings industry?
Scott: To me, it’s exposing people to the great array of color, materials and design that makes up the universe of rugs today. It’s trying to educate new people on the value of true handmade Oriental Rugs, as opposed to just another thing they consume. Teaching them how an Oriental Rug made to last for decades is different, and to understand that an initial investment pays off over time, in durability and resilience.
J: What advice would you give to someone considering starting a Rug business?
Scott: That’s hard. I bet you’d get a lot of interesting answers. I’m not sure I’d tell anyone to open one because the barriers to entry have become much higher. You need to know what you’re talking about. People can tell if you don’t know what you’re doing. Spend time working in the industry, learning what they’re doing, and go from there.
Scott: It’s good, and I think it’s changing. I think classics are the classics for a reason. The reason for that is they’re timelessness. Right now, we’re in a great period of much more fashion and design-based styling. I’m still seeing a high level of interest in classic designs and styles.
J: So what do you think differentiates you from the dot-coms of the world? Is it all about the one-of-a-kind items?
Scott: It’s harder to curate a group of one-off unique items than to just hit open-to-buy on a piece that you’ve sold and you’re just replacing. It means there’s more knowledge that’s needed, but there’s definitely a place for both. You need to do both and we do both. But certainly, that uniqueness of a lot of our pieces is our strength.
To learn more about Gregorian Oriental Rugs, you can visit them at www.GregorianRugs.com. If you’re an RM Innovation customer interested in being featured in our next Home Furnishings Retailer Spotlight, reach out here and let us know!