Shahin Rug Gallery
Shortly after moving to Santa Rosa, a woman went on-line, trying to find Cyrus Shahin and the Shahin Rug Gallery. She had purchased two rugs from him when they both lived in Wisconsin, where he owned a rug store. Her new home in California wasn’t as big as the one in Wisconsin, and the rugs she loved wouldn’t fit. She hoped to exchange them – even though she’d purchased them eleven years earlier. She found Shahin, and walked into his Napa store with her original sales receipt and the two rugs under her arms. “When I bought these, you said you’d exchange them at any time. Will you still honor that?” Shahin looked at the rugs and the receipt, smiled and said, “Of course. Let’s find something that will work for you.”
That kind of customer service is unheard of anymore, but it’s the way Shahin has been operating since opening his first rug store in Wisconsin in 1995, and it’s still the way he does business. “If a rug is clean with normal wear and tear and the customer has the receipt, of course I’ll exchange it.” For Shahin, it’s not so much a business policy; it’s just the right thing to do. No wonder he’s been successful all these years.
Shahin moved to the United States and Wisconsin when he was twenty-four. He had been stationed in that area for training when he was in the Iranian Navy. He finished his training and, shortly afterwards, the revolution broke out in Iran. It was no longer the peaceful country he’d known, and he had no desire to return. Plus, having been in the States for several years, this was home.
To say that he started from scratch is an understatement. Shahin had a suitcase full of clothes, no place to live, and $230 in his pocket. He found an apartment, but was evicted when the Hostage Crisis occurred in 1979. Even though he had no ties to Iran, political or otherwise, his landlord didn’t want somebody from “that country” in his building. Shahin took it in stride, as he does everything.
“The apartment owner wasn’t a bad man and it wasn’t about me. Besides, it wasn’t going to do me any good to be angry with him,” said Shahin, brushing the whole thing off.
Having been trained as an electrician, he eventually went to work for Wisconsin Power and Light, specializing in turbine engines. It was work he enjoyed, but when his brother talked about opening a rug store, Shahin wanted in. The two opened that first store and began a wholesaling business, which is still in operation.
Life was good, but winters were cold. “I’m not complaining, but as you get older, it gets harder shoveling all that snow!” He promised himself he would leave Wisconsin when he turned fifty-five, and did just that, relocating to Southern California, where he opened a Greek Restaurant. Once again, he was successful, but the hours were long and the time off, limited. Plus, he wanted to get back into the
For him and many others, Oriental Rugs are an art form, dating back 2,500 years. There are several different styles, made in eight different countries, but all are hand–woven, knotted pile rugs, made from wool or Silk. A pile rug, which may take months or years to complete, differs from other hand -made floor coverings, in that the knots are individually inserted into the foundation, and cut one at a time. There are many factors that determine the quality and value of an Oriental Rug, such as, if the piles are stain-free and without holes, whether or not the fringe is original and in good shape, if the piles are even, and what the overall “lay” of the rug is. Being able to check these factors is a learned skill. For many, it’s intimidating, but Shahin is an expert, and enjoys teaching people how to evaluate and chose a rug. It’s what he loves. Which is why he decided, after a year of owning his Greek restaurant, to close it and get back in the business he is so passionate about.
Shahin drove north from southern California looking for a town that he liked and one that needed a quality rug store. When he came to Napa, he found both. “I love it here. The climate is great and the people are friendly. This is paradise.”
The Shahin Rug Gallery recently relocated to 1320 Second Street, directly across from the Post Office. For Shahin, business and life are good. His store is successful, and three years ago he got married. An honest, straightforward and hardworking man, He deserves the happiness he has.
Visit Shahin Rug Gallery at the store or online, at
http://www.shahinrug.com. Open until 5:30 everyday but Tuesday.