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Rug companies diversify mix with non-rug products

Lissa Wyman Rug editorLissa Wyman Rug editor
I know what a pillow is and I know all about throws, lamps and knickknacks. But what in tarnation is a "pouf?" I Googled it and Wikipedia told me the pouf is a hairstyle favored by Marie Antoinette.
     But actually, the pouf is the next big thing for rug vendors who want to diversify their product mix.
     It turns out poufs are versions of ottomans or "hassocks" as my dad used to call them. They are covered in colorful fabric or leather or dhurrie flat weaving or Suzani embroidery. They are filled with a variety of materials and retail for about $50 to $400.
     Those little decorative pieces were in abundant supply at rug showrooms in High Point this season. So were pillows, which have become almost de rigueur for diversified rug vendors. Both pillows and poufs are natural companions for rugs and often, but not always, they are available with coordinating rugs.
     Over the past few years, there has been a continuing trend into non-rug categories much more diverse than just poufs and pillows. Some vendors, such as Safavieh (furniture), Surya (home accents), Rizzy (home textiles), Nourison and Oriental Weavers (both in broadloom carpeting) are making large footprints in their new businesses. Due Process Stable Trading will be branching out into fabrics later this year, via its partnership with designer Wesley Mancini.
     One major rug vendor predicted that the rug business as we know it is undergoing a sea change.
     "Pretty soon, there will be no more rug industry," he said. "More and more, we are part of the home furnishings business." He foresees the day when rugs will be just one of several product categories sold by companies we now know as "rug vendors."
     This vendor isn't someone with a casual commitment to rugs. His family has been involved in rug importing for several generations.
     "In order to grow, it is necessary for us to seek new markets," he said. "The number of traditional Oriental rug stores is shrinking rapidly. The department store business is dominated by only a handful of companies. With a few exceptions, floor covering specialists are not interested in rugs. We need new outlets to sell our rugs, but we also must develop product lines to make ourselves important to new retail customers. We can't exist on rugs alone."

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