Princeton Rug Gallery Marks Second Anniversary, Continuing to Offer High Quality Oriental Carpets
SUCCESS STORY: Owners Jalil Fatollahi (left) and Maryam Mohammadi are proud to celebrate the second anniversary of Princeton Rug Gallery in Princeton. For many people, an Oriental rug is a very special addition to their home. It epitomizes tradition, quality, and beauty. Princeton Rug Gallery has a wonderful selection from all over the world.
By Jean Stratton
After two successful years at 830 State Road, Princeton Rug Gallery remains THE place for high quality Oriental rugs. Owners Jalil Fatollahi and Maryam Mohammadi are delighted that customers have discovered the superior workmanship and beauty of these special carpets.
“We are proud to be doing well when other businesses are closing in such numbers,” says Maryam Mohammadi. “Customers know they can count on our service, quality product, and our knowledge. While we are relatively new to Princeton, we are not new to rugs! We have 40 years experience in the rug business.”
Opened in January of 2016, the store features an outstanding selection of rugs in many sizes, styles, color blends, and patterns. The selection includes carpets from Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, India, Egypt, Nepal, China, Russia, and Afghanistan. All the rugs are handmade and hand-knotted, and made of wool, silk, or a blend of wool and silk. Some are more than 100 years old. The term in general usage for these hand-woven rugs is “Oriental.”
Jalil Fatollahi and Maryam Mohammadi, who are married, are both from Iran, and have a long history in the rug business. “My family was in the fabric business for 100 years, and I grew up in it, learning about it from the time I was 12,” says Fatollahi. “Eventually, my uncle changed the focus to rugs, and I always wanted to be in the business.”
He was also always interested in new opportunities, and after many years in the family business, he and his wife and daughter moved to Germany in 1979, where he opened his own firm. Mohammadi attended a university there, studying interior and fashion design.
Fluent in several languages, including Farsi, Arabic, German, and English, the couple was readily able to adapt to new places and new cultures. They moved again in 1991, this time to Canada, where Jalil Fatollahi worked for one of the largest carpet companies in the country. He then opened his own store in Toronto, focusing on handmade Oriental carpets.
Then, in 1995, he took advantage of an opportunity to come to the U.S. “A friend had a very successful carpet business in Morristown, and he asked me to join him,” recalls Fatollahi. “It was a $28 million business.”
After several years of collaboration with the Morristown firm, he decided to open his own business in Princeton. “I had always liked Princeton and the area, and first, I started working as a freelancer. Having my own business was always important to me, and it’s always been a matter of emphasizing my standards and offering quality to clients.
“Early in my career, my uncle told me if I wanted to have a business, there are three things I must remember. One, honesty. Two, the best service, and three, establishing good credit with people. It is very important to have a good reputation in business dealings.”
The owners believed that Princeton would be an excellent location for their business, and this has proved true. Many regular Princeton customers have purchased rugs from the store. In addition, clients from Hopewell, Pennington, Lawrenceville, Skillman, and beyond, including northern New Jersey, frequent the store on a regular basis.
Texture and Colors
Although Princeton Rug Gallery has a website, and indeed, many customers have discovered it through that means, the store does not sell rugs online, reports Maryam Mohammadi. “These rugs are not something you should buy on-line. You need to take time to look at them, touch them, notice the texture and colors — spend time with them. You can’t do that online.”
She adds that a number of customers require more than one visit to make a decision. “When they come in, they don’t usually buy right away. They look, then leave, and then come back again, sometimes more than once, and then buy. It’s a very important purchase, an investment.”
It is not only the customers who spend a great deal of time examining the rugs, she points out. “We are always continuing to learn. It’s a personal thing for us. We take many hours to select high quality rugs for the best value. First I look at the rug as if I were looking at a painting on the wall. I am looking to see if the colors and design are right. Then, I look at the back, at the quality of the hand-knotting.
“Next I touch it. It has to be soft, but that is not what I’m thinking while I’m touching it. I am looking for the glow. Good rugs have a glow that tends to make them feel velvety.
”We want to offer the best for our clients and understand what they need. We want them to feel comfortable with their purchase, both as to quality and budget. We are always ready to offer advice and help, if clients have questions. And we do our best to work within their budget. We always offer a fair price.
“Also, if we don’t have what a customer is looking for, we will order it. We have our own warehouse and many other sources and resources. We can also customize as to size, color, and pattern.”
In addition, Mohammadi will make a complimentary visit to a client’s home to determine how best the rug will fit into the existing decor.
“My family were artists— painters and musicians— and I went into design. I have worked as a design consultant in Morristown and Princeton, and I enjoy sharing the beauty of these rugs with everyone. This is ‘floor art.’ The focus of the design should be on the rugs.”
Indeed, a longtime Princeton Rug Galley client, Anita Pacheco from Morris County, emphasizes this.
“Maryam told me, when decorating, start with the rug, and then build around it. These rugs can provide so much joy. They are also incredibly durable. I’ve had mine for 20 years. Also, the quality and tradition are so important. When you turn the rug over and see each one individually knotted, you can imagine the work that goes into it.”
Mohammadi points out that a 9-foot by 12-foot rug with 500 knots per square inch would take 14 months to complete, and this is if five artisans are each working six hours a day, six days a week!
Princeton Rug Gallery provides a superior selection of vintage and new Oriental rugs, with 2000 individual rugs available in the spacious, bright showroom.
All sizes, from small two by three feet to those more than 30 feet are offered with several prominently displayed on the walls. Mohammadi notes that some customers enjoy purchasing a rug to hang on the wall as decorative art.
“People like a blend of colors, and they appreciate the unique tradition these rugs represent. I want to emphasize that our rugs are unique. The antique rugs, even those 100 years old, are of such good quality they actually blossom with age.
“Another thing, the rugs are easy to maintain. When you vacuum, just go with the nap. And cleaning depends on the use the rug gets. Every two years, it’s good to give them a good cleaning. and change the pad. Padding is very important for the rug. It protects it. Also, never buy a mesh pad. You need a quality pad to go with a quality rug. All the washing, cleaning, and restoration is done by us. We also offer appraisals, and free pick-up and delivery.”
“I am proud to continue our family tradition,” says Fatollahi. “We want everyone to come and see our store and our wonderful rugs. People in Princeton appreciate these carpets and are knowledgeable.”
On the other hand, adds Mohammadi, “Sometimes, people are new to Oriental rugs, and come in to learn about them. It is our pleasure to introduce new customers to the history and beauty of these rugs.
“As we celebrate our anniversary, we want to thank all our customers and also our neighbors. The other businesses here have been so welcoming. We feel we are in a community here. We are definitely here to stay.
“When I walk in the store every day, I am so happy to come here. Even customers will say ‘Oh, you really love what you do!’ I certainly do, and we are so encouraged as we look ahead. We enjoy all our clients, our regulars, and our new customers, and we look forward to sharing our wonderful rugs with them.”
Princeton Rug Gallery is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday 10 to 4. (609) 356-0043. Website: www.princetonruggallery.com.