By Den Cralle, Son of Green Front Owner Dickie Cralle
To spend Christmas at home with family or in the slums of India.
For many this would be an easy choice, but I decided to try my luck with some much-needed rug buying experience.
My second trip to India was bound to be more buying oriented than my first trip four years prior. I had witnessed the enormous amount of poverty on my first trip, so I knew what to expect in that sense, but I didn’t really know how I was going to handle myself on this crash course rug-buying trip. I’m sure my dad can’t even remember how many times he’s been to India, so I knew I had some catching up to do.
Every morning we woke up at the crack of dawn to a cold Indian morning. We would start our day off eating a huge, largely unappetizing breakfast. Depending on where we were, the car ride from the city to the dealers took at least two hours. Throughout my trip, we spent about an hour at each dealer, contingent upon their stock and prices. Near the end of a long day, I wouldn’t have much concentration and my ability to pick out good pieces seemed more difficult. This is a tough business, but there are many payoffs and the whole experience can be very rewarding and exciting.
Three Things I Learned About the Rug Business
There are a few main things I learned about the rug business from my experience in India.
First, contemporary rugs are becoming a large part of the market, and you need good taste and a young eye to really get the good pieces. Many of the places we went to had different variations of the same concept, but after a few days, it became much easier to sort out the good from the bad. People living in city apartments might have different taste than someone living in a traditional suburban home. It is important to have variety in stock and new styles coming in. Contemporary rugs act just like fashion. A cool rug last year might not sell as well the next year.
The second fact that I took away from this trip was that machine made rugs are becoming much more relevant and accepted in today’s rug market. The technology has gotten much better and the quality of the machine made rugs almost rival that of the traditional hand-knotted rugs. More importantly, many people can’t afford large hand made rugs in today’s economy. These machine made rugs are a great alternative for a buyer on a budget.
Finally I understood that buying in bulk serves other purposes than simply getting a better deal. Every customer walking into Green Front has different tastes and you need to have something that fits their taste or they wont buy anything. Buying in mass quantity straight from the dealer insures that there is plenty of variety while also passing the savings onto the customer. Since my dad buys in the manner that he does, he gives Green Front the “wow” factor. The sheer amount of inventory amazes people and drives home the point that Green Front is the rug capital of America.
Den is a junior at Southern Methodist University and majoring in business.