As told by Roz Rustigian…
“Rustigian Rugs was established by V. George Rustigian in 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression. "Rusty" started the business in 1930, which is approximately two decades before I emerged onto the scene. So my understanding is that his mother was connected to rug dealers in New York and that after the depression hit, he dropped out of Harvard Law School and took the rugs from his relatives in order to start the business. And that's how it happened.
“Because he quit law school, I think it was a matter of financial necessity at that point. He had worked summers in various rug stores, and I believe they included New Orleans in New York. He wasn't a complete newcomer to the business. And I guess under the circumstances of necessity that made it a logical choice.
“The business started in my house where I still live. And the showroom was in the garage. In 1980, when Rusty died, the business was still in the house. I bought the building we're in now in August of 1981 with the express intention of making it the rug store with greater visibility.
“At the time my father died, I had had a corporate job for three years and had gone to hotel and restaurant school, so I was fairly conversant with mortgages and loans and how to build a business and build equity.
“In some way, shape or form I thought, “If I named the business after my father, it would take care of me, it was that simple. There didn't really seem to be a downside to buying the property. If the rug store didn't work, then I had a piece of property to sell. So, I never really had a vision for what it was going to look like except successful.
“The decade of the eighties was a very difficult one in which to start a business. The interest rates were phenomenally high. And when I bought the building, I was lucky to have had a take back mortgage from the seller, which gave me a 14-point interest rate instead of the prevailing 22 or 23% from a bank. We got through that financial burden but it really was never easy until almost 2000 and after.
“Rhode Island is not a prime retail location. And in part that's because it's so proximate to New York and Boston; and often people perceive that selections out of town are better.
“Business today is pretty damn good, and I have no intention of retiring any time soon.”
To hear the whole story about how Roz grew Rustigian Rugs from 1980 to today, listen in and take a look at the video.