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Armenian rug business in U.S. continues legacy of helping refugees

Armenian rug business in U.S. continues legacy of helping refugees

PanARMENIAN.Net - A rug business that has been run by an Armenian family in New Haven, Connecticut, for 137 years continues to grow and give back to its community, WFSB reports.

Kebabian's Oriental Rugs has been woven into the fabric of the Elm City and its business is stretching overseas to help refugees.

Hundreds of exotic runs are stacked up and hanging from the front windows to the back walls.

“We’re the oldest hand-made rug business in quarters in the United States," said John Kebabian, owner, Kebabian's Oriental Rugs.

The shop can be found on Elm Street underneath a neon sign.

“This is our 137th year," John Kebabian said. "We began in 1882, when my great great uncles came over from Turkey to go to Yale, and they set up shop first in order to sell rugs to finance their education.”

The legacy of the Armenian family that emigrated from Turkey is that they built a foundation and that nothing was given.

“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, but we don’t inherit it. What we do is inherit the reputation," John Kebabian said.

John Kebabian said he bought the store from his father in 1992 and his son Joshua Kebabian will have to do the same.

“I’m 29 and I just want to steward this business and do this product the best that I can," said Joshua Kebabian

To get these hand-woven rugs, John Kebabian said he travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Joshua Kebabian covers India and Nepal.

“It’s done all by hand and our specialty [is] natural dye stuff so people search us out from actually all over the country," John Kebabian said.

Prices range anywhere from $25 for a small rug to more than $100,000 for high-end ones or antiques. Customers can also find a large rug on clearance for around $400.

Wednesday, more than 800 rugs were delivered to them from Afghanistan. It was the largest shipment in the store's history.

"So many rugs today that are being heavily marketed are machine made and they’re made of plastic," Joshua Kebabian said. “We prefer to use all natural products like the wool and silk.”

Their business helps employ hundreds of people overseas and they have some refugees working in their store as well.

“We work with an organization called IRIS in New Haven," John Kebabian said.

IRIS stands for Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.

“We have two guys from there, they are phenomenal," said John Kebabian. "They are from Afghanistan.”

They've been growing the business with interior designers, online and with social media.

“Family, history, passion, style, quality hand-made rugs since 1882," Joshua Kebabian said. "I think that just sums up who we are.”

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