Rug gallery going out of business
A flood, a trade embargo and two years of construction convinced brothers Moe and Mori Torabbeigi to close their business, Persian Rug Gallery at 438 Main St.
President Barack Obama signed a bill last year that banned U.S. businesses from importing rugs from Iran as of Sept. 29, 2010. Iran is where Persian Rug Gallery gets most of its merchandise.
The value of Persian rugs is going up as a result of the embargo because the rugs will become increasingly rare in this country, Moe Torabbeigi said. But he’s selling rugs at as much as half price since he and his brother decided to close the store, probably this February or March.
Although sales haven’t wavered much, Torabbeigi said Downtown Uplift construction affected business, and there are fewer shoppers now than there were before the 2010–11 project.
Ultimately, he said he doesn’t see the point in remaining open if he can’t replenish his inventory. Even though the store has about 1,500 rugs, it took 22 years for the U.S. to lift its last ban on imported rugs from Iran. This time, Torabbeigi suspects it could take just as long or longer for an embargo to end.
The embargo wasn’t the only bad news the store struggled with last year. In October 2010, between phases of the Downtown Uplift, a waterline owned by the city of Grand Junction burst in front of Persian Rug Gallery and flooded the store. The break caused less-extensive damage to New York Moon Boutique & Salon at 418 Main St. and Page-Parsons Jewelers at 444 Main St. Torabbeigi estimated the flood caused about $250,000 of damage, including the loss of 80 rugs that were too soiled to sell, even after cleaning.
A month later, the city’s insurance company, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, told the three businesses their insurance claims for damage had been rejected. In a letter, the agency wrote there was no history of waterline breaks in the area, so the insurer determined the break was not the result of city negligence.
The city offered to pay the store $5,000 through a Good Neighbor Assistance Program that helps pay for cleanups. Torabbeigi said he expects the check to arrive any day now, but it won’t cover much.
“We paid more than $5,000 to transport the rugs to Denver and California for cleaning,” he said.
Torabbeigi said he has “no feelings” about the flood.
“What do you feel when you lose $200,000?” he said.
He has the same response about the decision to close the family business.
“We’re just trying to sell rugs,” he said simply.
Torabbeigi said he’s not sure what he will do next. He may consider opening a restaurant and may stay in Grand Junction, where Persian Rug Gallery operated for five years.