Oregon Rug Dealer Moves to Larger Quarters

Phoenix, OR, January 19--Bug in a Rug blended well for many years inside New West Imports in Medford. The area-rug dealer eventually outgrew its habitat, however, and needed a place of its own, according to the Medford, Oregon, Mail Tribune. "We had hundreds and hundreds of rugs we couldn't show at New West," says Bug in a Rug owner D.J. Bransom. "There was no more room to hang them or to add new racks." Even before New West Imports announced its was closing its Court Street location last summer, Bransom and his wife Shireen had landed in a 2,700-square-foot space at The Shoppes at Exit 24 on Fern Valley Road. "We tripled our space here," says the 40-year-old Bransom. The shop carries a thousand rugs in stock, ranging from 2-by-3-foot pieces for less than 10 bucks to 8-by-11-footers that cost between $3,000 and $4,000. The owners not only claim the largest variety of looks and styles in the valley, but the largest range of quality as well. "You can go to Freddy's or Lowe's and find rugs for less," but there's a limited selection, Bransom says. "Even the higher-end stores -- Rug for All Reasons or Meier & Frank have the same look." The rugs are from the United States, Egypt, India, Belgium and China, he says. But where they're finally crafted has little to do with a rug's look. "People will come in and ask for Chinese or Persian rugs, wanting something from the country or that style, but that isn't the way it works," Bransom says. "There are rugs from Egypt that you would swear came from a contemporary shop in San Francisco and U.S.-made rugs that look like they come from Pakistan. Other than the hand-knotted or hand-tufted ones, you'd be hard-pressed to know where they come from." It's possible for a "Made in Egypt" piece to truly reflect the global economy with synthetic elements from Mexico or the United States, coloring from Europe, wool from New Zealand and cotton from yet another country. "I try not to put too much emphasis on where the rugs were made," he says. The firm sells about 100 rugs monthly with no real peak season. "When people want to get their house in order at Thanksgiving time or Easter for company, they start coming in," he says. "We've tried to track trends, but we haven't found that big of a trend. Come springtime it's pretty busy, and in winter it's just as busy." Bransom says he expected business to lag when the sun came out, but customers still show up. "I think a lot of it has to do with new building and a transition from wall-to-wall carpet to hardwood and tile floors in new homes." The Bug in a Rug name comes from the owners' infatuation with VW bugs. One of the diminutive German autos will soon appear in the showroom. Bransom says he became a rug merchant somewhat by accident. He worked at Providence hospital medical technician for a decade before becoming disillusioned with the direction health-maintenance organizations were taking the medical field. "I loved the job, but I didn't like the red-tape that was accumulating with it," Bransom says. "The field was starting to fall away from patient care more than I wanted it to. At 32, I thought I was still young enough to do something different." He went from filling time managing a Medford chain rug store for a friend to becoming its owner in little more than a year. Brad Laurine, who owned several U.S. Area Rugs shops in the state, asked Bransom if he wanted to buy the store that he was managing. "He was paying the bills, but I was doing all the work," Bransom says. "I knew what he made each month and saw the potential." That was five years ago. Bug in a Rug stretched up the Interstate as far as Lake Oswego, locating itself in larger stores, until last summer.

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