Some of you have probably never heard of Tufenkian rugs. I've seen them at local Oriental rug stores. The wool is good quality and the designs are often more contemporary than the more common traditional wool and/or silk rugs. But Tufenkian also has some cool Arts & Crafts designs.
The rugs are pricey. An 8 by 10-foot rug can be marked $6,000 to $10,000 in Twin Cities stores. And that's exactly the problem with "Oriental" rugs. What is a fair price? It takes a lot of research to compare quality of wool, knot counts, country of origin etc. And then you learn that knot count is overrated and shouldn't be a deciding factor.
Buying online on eBay or Craigslist can save tons of money, but buying a rug sight unseen (eBay) is risky. You could get a piece with rug rot, excessive wear, damage or odors.
Earlier this week I discovered that Tufenkian has an online outlet. The physical outlet store is in Oregon. Through the end of today, Feb. 24, you can get an extra 15 percent off the outlet prices. (Manager Andrew Gritzbaugh informed me that the 15 percent off sales are semi-annual, so another one will occur in about six months).
I found the outlet an amazing resource for a couple of reasons. One--the prices are excellent. Discounts of 40 to 64 percent are common. Two--a shopper can finally see what the suggested retail price is. I saw an 8' by 10' rug at the Tufenkian outlet that was priced originally $5,200, marked down to $1,900. But in a local Twin Cities store, the same rug was priced originally at $8,500 and "marked down" to $6,500. I asked Gritzbaugh if it is possible that the two rugs could be different in any way. "No," he said, "except for very slight dye lot variations."
If you are considering a Tufenkian rug in a local store, do yourself a favor and check to see if it is available at the outlet. Some rugs available at the outlet are not shown online at the outlet. Call 1-800-928-6671 to inquire if the rug is available at a discount.
Another resource I discovered is Peerless Imported Rugs. The website lists the manufacturer's price and the lowest advertised price on current rugs (not discontinued). I found that to be very helpful information in determining a fair price with local rug merchants whose prices are inflated.
The rugs at the Tufenkian Outlet are first-quality, but they are discontinued patterns.
Let me know your own rug buying experiences online or in local stores.