Monthly Archives: September 2008

Oil Prices, Government and the Economy – A Reflection of American Greed

    The entire flooring industry has become stagnant. The cause, as explained by many in this industry, is the combined effect of Crude oil prices and the current economical complexities that have disrupted an entire nation of consumers. Most flooring products are dependant on petroleum distillates (crude oil products) in the manufacturing process and resulting product. Nowhere is the bond between crude oil prices and flooring prices more prevalent than in the soft-surface market. Carpet and carpet cushions have nearly doubled in cost in the past two years. Most consumers are unaware of the effect that oil prices have had on this market, and exhibit great distress when shopping for new carpet for their home. The flooring industry has tried to compensate for the growing costs of raw materials by offering carpet products that do not depend so heavily on petroleum. Over the past few years they have tapped into recycled PET plastics and micro-fiber technology (PTT Yarn) that depends on corn oil rather than crude oil. This has controlled costs to some extent, but raw material prices still continue to soar beyond that which anyone could have anticipated.

    A portion of these costs can be attributed to the state of our economy as a whole. As prices rise beyond that which is affordable by the average household, we could always count on financing to make up the difference in a families "disposable" income. The current economic crisis, whose onset can be traced to greedy people offering "creative" financing for so much of the real estate market, has virtually yanked the rug out from under our feet. Whereas, under normal circumstances, we might be able to offer financing to cover the additional cost of new carpet even this option becomes unviable as an additional method to sustain flooring sales. We watch as one dealership after another folds under the pressure, and pray that we are not next in line.

    The greed of corporate America has caused a great calamity to befall us. This becomes more and more apparent as congress and the senate search for a possible way to repair our broken economy. As hard as they may try, we will not see the benefits of any solution for a distant time to come. We cannot completely repair a broken economy until we ascertain the cause. Corporate greed has been and continues to be at the root of our current crisis. Until small to medium sized businesses are able to wrestle back some level of control over corporate giants, we will all suffer under their tyrannical rule. Large corporations have stolen the means and method by which most small businesses are able to sustain themselves. The evidence of greed and lack of concern for small business can be clearly seen whenever a corporation decides to open a new outlet in any given geographical area. We can watch as a dozen small businesses fold whenever a superstore opens it’s doors to the public. Large chains of stores that allow you to buy directly from a manufacturer instead of buying those same products from your friends and neighbors in small businesses. This always has the stench of greed. I can’t remember the exact words, but last week a politician proclaimed that it was our patriotic duty to dig deep into our pockets, and bail out corporate America. How dare he even speak such words. We have already paid our debt in taxes, insurance and finance charges. They dug the hole, let them fill it. We would not be in this mess if it weren’t for the selfishness and greed of those corporations that placed us in peril. And yet, it is our selfish greed that has spawned the corporate beast. That’s correct you and I have spawned this monster through our desire to save money on products. This is the mechanism that spawned the corporate beast, it is our own desire for selfish gain. And the monster could not continue to exist without our help. Every time we choose to shop at a super-store or factory outlet, we feed the beast a little more. As it grows it continues to devour our economy. But we pretend ignorance, and proclaim our outrage, that our government did nothing to protect us from it. The government did not spawn this monster of greed, how can we expect the government to save us from ourselves. We live in a republic which allows us freedom of choice, and we continue to choose to feed the beast.

    I am old enough to remember a time when manufacturers would only sell products through small business. This was a time of shared wealth in America. It was a practice by which every community was able to share in part of the wealth. There used to be an attitude of integrity and a willingness to allow small business to share in the overall wealth of our great nation. No self respecting company would even think of bypassing their retailers in order to keep all the profits to themselves. It used to be common practice for corporations to establish joint ventures and affiliations with local small business so that both parties could benefit. It was thought to be absolutely anti-business to go over a dealer’s head, and directly sell your products, and to keep the resulting profit. Many flooring dealers were specialty stores that were the only ones allowed to carry a certain line of products within a geographical area. In fact you may have been the only dealer for a manufacturers product in your home town. Dealers were loyal to the manufacturer and customers were loyal to a dealer that exhibited integrity. Things have certainly changed for the worse. Corporations have dealt a death blow to distributors, dealers and retailers throughout the United States. To top that off, they want to add to their profit margins by using cheap foreign labor in the manufacture of far too many items. Corporations have virtually stripped small and medium sized business of their ability to sell any item and make a profit. Factory direct stores are popping up all over, and robbing retailers of their fair share of the profit. With the current crises our financial institutions are enduring, they now threaten to take even more out of our ability to run a business, by removing a dealer’s ability to receive or offer financing. We need to consider the cost of our greed. Our desire to save a few dollars by buying directly from the manufacturer is the catalyst that closes the door on small business and costs people their jobs. Would you be willing to spend a few dollars more on a product to insure that your spouse keeps their job or your neighbors retail store stays open. Consider the toll that greed and selfishness has taken on our society. It has cost us our wealth, our livelihood and our integrity as a nation. Seriously consider boycotting these super-stores, direct stores and outlets. When we shop at these places, we pay a horrible premium in humanity under the disguise of saving some money. What is more important, people or products?

    We can only pray that this will be a wake up call for all of America. We need to re-build our American labor force and be willing to share our wealth with small business. We need to re-establish "made in the USA" as the quality standard for all other nations in the world to follow. We need to become self sufficient for raw materials needed to manufacture our goods and let American hands assemble them. We need to use our own plentiful wind, solar, coal and natural gas to power our nation, and keep our wealth for the people of our own nation. If we don’t, we will continue to see greed strip away the remainder of our wealth and morals, until there is nothing of value that remains.

    We cannot allow government to slap a band-aid onto the gaping, infected wound of our economy. Greed has become the driving force in our economy, and it reflects in the thoughts and attitudes of our children and grand-children. We need to stop this monster before it devours our Country. Some may ask how we would even attempt such a monumental task. The answer lies in America’s core values. We need to repent of this evil and return the the core values that built this nation. We need to be unashamed to say "In God We Trust"! When you start at that position, the only way to build is up. Our economy is a reflection of our character whether we like it or not. Rebuilding our character will lead us to the path that we must now follow. We are American citizens, and we do not need the government to pass legislation that simply puts the beast on life support, we have the power of government within us, and our destiny is in our own hands. It is the power of choice. If we recognize the beast for what it is, then we already know what needs to be done. We simply allow the beast to consume itself. It has grown far too large for us to feed it any longer. Let it consume itself and we will rebuild upon the remains of it’s carcass. We will build a new unselfish America, that has the genuine concern for our fellow citizens at it’s core.

My original intent for this writing was to simply report on rising carpet prices…

It seems as though I may have strayed slightly from my intent. Yet I cannot content myself with a mere report when the need is so great and the consequences are already at hand. Please join me in support of mankind. People will always be more important than products and the price of a product can never attest to it’s true value. The most valuable product on earth is a person’s soul. Greed has no soul and therefore it has no value or purpose. We have a soul, and that is to be treasured above all things. We can judge the value of the human soul by the price God has paid to redeem it.

May God Bless America,

Charles Beason

www.RugRunnerBiz.com

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The Hallmarks of Prudent and Mature Home Decor

    Could the hallmarks of Prudent and Mature Home Decor be ascertained by that which we choose to walk on? It does not take much insight to observe the difference between the arbitrary and trendy fashion frequenter, and the thoughtful, more prudent home decorator. One of the most notable signs of prudent home decor is the practical choice and application of Area Rugs as they are scattered among similar evidences of design. Therefore, it is at this junction that I will hazard a comparison of the two endeavors and how they approach their inevitable result.

    As we inherently mature in thought and emotion, and as we grow in quality of character, the choices we make in designing a space should naturally follow suit. There are basically two approaches at interior decoration and they differ as light unto darkness when based upon this premise. The one approach is youthful, arbitrary and full of whimsy. The other approach is mature, prudent and pragmatic. Both approaches address the same issue of home decor aesthetics, but by no means are they remotely similar. The phenomena is best gauged by comparing the living space of a teenager to that of their parent. While the room of a teenager may be charming and whimsical, hardly ever would you describe it as an attempt at professional home decoration or design. When we contrast this trendy style with the thoughtful abode of the parent we see some very striking differences in result. Yet it is the cause that intrigues me more than the result. It is the cause that separates the amateur from the professional, and not vice-versa. I am persuaded that maturity plays a large roll in the differing results. And yet, could maturity alone explain how two people, given the same criteria and budget, could end their task with such markedly divergent results? For the time at hand I will concentrate my comparison on those factors that are materially evident between the two. It is not my intent to revisit that which is referred to as a "generation gap", but certainly, underlying motivation does allude to it’s existence. The root of the matter should be found in how we arrive at any decision we make in our lives.

    My wife loves to watch the cable channels that feature home designers and decorators in their dual role as designer and entertainer. If we make comparisons of each "artist" and their talents, we may find that one individual takes a more cursory and seemingly effortless approach, while another is more thoughtful and tends to linger upon a decision before activating it. We could assume that the first person is confident in their skill and therefore is not concerned with the thoughts and feelings of the homeowner that they are designing for. This would lead us to a conclusion that the second person is somewhat less confident and may be delaying decisions as they consider how the result will resonate with the homeowner. Although the approach of two different people with two different styles is in play, they always arrive at an acceptable conclusion by remaining within the principles of home decor. This is evidenced by the fact that almost all of the homeowners are seemingly happy with the results. Could it be that the network would simply edit out or not air the homeowners that were unhappy with the redesign. We are just now learning of homeowners that eventually became disheartened or even angry with the quality of craftsmanship that occurred on some of these shows. We must take note that it was the quality of the work and not the design or decor that these homeowners are unhappy with. This proves to my mind that any style or personality inflection can be used to reach a satisfactory result in home decor because you are following a set of rules and guidelines that have already been established that you know you can depend on. Therefore there must be some rule or principle that is abandoned when we see unsatisfactory home decor results. Let us go back to the parent-teen model to further examine our question.

    If we examine the shopping habits of the young and trendy and compare them to the mature and prudent parent, we begin to see a major variance in intention and motivation. The teen is only concerned with temporary appearance. She buys decor items on a whim and instant gratification is the driving force. Is it because she knows her taste in decor will change? Or is it simple economy that drives her choices. She tends to buy decor items that are inexpensive and disposable. Is this an indicator of budget alone? I believe that we could safely assume that it is not budget that drives the decision, but rather the arbitrary and impetuous nature of the teen. She has not yet developed a maturity level that corresponds to the home decor effect she is trying to achieve. She does not yet understand the meaning of Value. As we look toward the parent we see a very different approach in shopping habits. She is an experienced shopper and out of necessity she has learned that not all home decor products have the same value even though they can be similar in price. The driving force for the mature shopper is to research and find a product that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also has an element of durability and craftsmanship. She would rather buy one better quality item than five low quality (or disposable) products. She has more intention of stretching each dollar she spends in order to maximize the final result. Therefore we can assume that the driving factor of decision for the parent is Quality.

    Quality of craftsmanship, durability and low maintenance will usually distinguish a prudent home decorator from an arbitrary designer. I see evidence of this each day as I deal with clients and their choices in flooring products. The consumer that purchases based on factors other than quality will always be disappointed over time. Ignoring quality means that we base our decision on factors that will not stand the test of time. Such as choosing a product on mere color or pattern, without deference to the quality of that item. But quality usually means extra expense. Not always. Buying quality decor items does not always translate into higher prices. It does demand that you research your purchases and don’t be shy about questioning salespeople and dealers. Just as there are flooring products that are a better Value for your hard earned dollars, there are other home decor items that offer better quality than others that are close to the same pricing. Ask your consultant to show you the best quality item in your price range. On average, the difference in purchasing quality flooring can be two-hundred to six-hundred dollars, depending on the amount of floor being covered. This represents a substantial variance in the Quality of said flooring. Quality can make a huge difference in your overall satisfaction with a purchase, so it makes absolute sense to pay a little more for something that is built to last and still maintain your budget.

    As this applies to area rugs, there are huge divergences in quality and craftsmanship. Most people know that cheap chain store rug cannot compare to fine wool area rugs for quality and durability. You cannot possibly expect to be satisfied with a cheap olefin or polypropylene area rug (especially if it has a solid latex or rubber backing). It will not last for many years to come. The typical chain store area rug is marketed toward the youthful and whimsical impulse buyer. Whenever I enter a home that has these type of cheap, wrinkly rugs with curling edges that are certainly a trip hazard, I know what style of decor shopper the homeowner is. I am also witness to extreme markups on "budget" area rugs and I can say with confidence that the wise and mature buyer seeks quality wool area rugs at reduced prices. Area rugs should not be impulse items. They should be well thought out pieces of floor art, with quality fiber and craftsmanship that prove the insight and maturity of a homeowner’s decor.

    There has been no greater time to investigate the pricing and quality of wool area rugs. With crude oil prices pushing man-made fiber higher and higher, wool is fast becoming more economical than ever. If you must use man-made fiber rugs, make certain they are nylon, without any solid latex backings. However, wool fiber rugs are by far the wisest choice. With proper care, you can expect a wool fiber rug to last a lifetime. Which would you rather have, disposable fashion, or prudent and mature home decor? That which we choose to walk on may say more about us than we care to imagine.

Charles Beason,

www.rugrunnerbiz.com — Fine Wool Area Rugs and Home Decor Items (our picks for great Value)

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A Unique Time in the History and Economy of Wool Area Rugs

We are living in an era where Oil Prices are driving the condition of our Economy. Overall, this seems to have a negative impact on the prices of every home decor item that we purchase. Flooring prices have nearly doubled in the past two years ("talk about sticker shock"). However, upon examination we find that there are some positive attributes that can only exist at this moment in History and in this present Economy.

    Area Rugs have had a special place in the history of mankind, and the economy of Home Decor. The Medo-Persian Empire is given much credit for ancient trade in area rugs. We have physical evidence of intricate hand-made area rugs from the 1st century BC. Although we perceive that rugs, in the form of fleeces and hand-made rugs of all types of fibers would have been produced and traded before this empire came to power, it was largely their influence that made it a commodity that was traded throughout the known world at that time in history. It would be hard to imagine any caravan traveling from one city to another that would not have been laden with "exotic" area rugs for their high-end clients. That’s right, most area rugs in that era would only be affordable to the affluent members of society. In fact, area rugs were not become affordable to the average household until the 19th century AD. That is when machine production, and less expensive fibers would become used in the manufacturing processes of area rugs, eventually making them a more affordable home decor product.

    The economy of area rugs grew by leaps and bounds as machine-made processes reached a point where an imitation of hand-made rugs were affordable by the average middle-income family. In the beginning, these machine-made rugs were using cotton, wool, and even silk fibers. Area rugs became affordable as well as being a well built home decor product. In my estimation, things soon took a turn for the worse with the advent of petroleum based man-made fibers. When nylon fiber (a petroleum based fiber) was first introduced in the manufacture of area rugs, things could not have seemed better. I am trying to keep this short so I will not discuss other man-made fibers that were being experimented with and used. Nylon fiber had shown that it was a great economical replacement for wool, it was also a strong fiber that resisted soil and stains well. Crude oil was plentiful and cheap, so nylon became the "It" fiber for a generation of post-war, economically secure nation of consumers.  It soon became the industry standard for area rugs and wall-to-wall carpet.

    Fast forward a generation or two and oil is beginning to become expensive. This is where the story becomes sad for me. Rug manufacturers begin to use less expensive polypropylene, olefin and polyester fibers. In the beginning these less expensive and inferior fiber rugs were sold as a disposable commodity. The fuzzy bathroom rug and the "welcome" mat in your foyer were never meant to last long or clean well. You simply used them for a season and then tossed them in the garbage where they would begin their journey to the land-fill. Although I still consider these types of rugs to be disposable, the rug industry has managed to convince a generation of consumers that these fibers can be a good alternative to the now more expensive nylon, "after all, they are both man-made fibers" aren’t they? Contrary to modern marketing, these fibers will always be considered sub-standard, as far as I am concerned. I was truly appalled when the Big, Brand Name Rug Makers were trying to convince me of the positive attributes of polypropylene and that they could be sold as a high-end home decor product as long as a pretty pattern of colors were printed on them. I see these rugs in the chain-stores and all over the Internet, marketed and sold as if they were a good quality product and part of that is due to our economy. As nylon fiber rugs become more expensive, they will simply pass off a polypropylene rug, as if it were a decent product.

    This is where the good news begins. A very unique circumstance of our economy is the fact that petroleum based, man-made fibers are becoming more and more expensive, while wool fiber has become abundant and economical. This means that you can buy wool fiber area rugs for the same price as nylon, and oftentimes less. Even hand-made wool rugs are competing with machine made nylon rugs. This is a unique time in history. I have extolled the virtues of wool area rugs for many years. Wool area rugs are simply a superior product for your money, and now they are more affordable than ever. Now is the best time to buy a fine wool area rug for your home decor. Conditions are perfect for finding a quality rug at a discounted price, and you can be assured that all the rugs we feature on our web site will be a great value and they will stand the test of time.

Charles Beason,

www.RugRunnerBiz.com  – Fine Wool Area Rugs and Home Decor Items

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Finally a member of Technorati

Took me awhile but I finally have a

A Possible Solution to Lessen or Eliminate Edge Curling on Light-Weight Area Rugs

Here is a recent email consult I had with a very nice individual that was having Edge Curl Problems with his Area Rug. Here is the Substance of our email and a possible solution for this problem. This is a DIY Tip from me to you.

    I thought this might be a typical consult on edge curling problems in light-weight area rugs. In this instance it was quite fortunate that this individual sent some pictures of his area rug for me to look at, as it turned out that he actually had what appears to be a Wool Fleece (not a Shag rug), and not an average light-weight area rug. Dealing with edge curl on a light weight Fleece can really be a challenge, once the edges begin to curl it becomes increasingly difficult to get them back into position so that they lay flat against the floor, this is . Edge Curl, Bunching and Wrinkles are  problem for many light-weight rugs. Aside from Fleeces, there are a variety of rugs that may defy gravity and generally give you a hard time, when you just want them to lay flat and behave. Examples of light-weight rugs include some needle-punch or flat-weave rugs and some Kilims and Soumaks are more similar to a tapestry in weight and points per square inch. Many cotton or polypropylene (olefin) rugs that do not have a solid latex backing tend to exhibit these problems. Latex or rubber backed rugs can cause even greater problems, you can read about them in my blog or on my web site. My Advice: Do Not Buy Any Area Rug With a Solid Latex Backing (unless it’s for use on a patio or outdoors)! Okay, back to light-weight rugs and one possible solution for them. Here is the actual email response as I sent it…

Fleece Here is a picture of the Fleeces backing. Notice that this is the actual hide from the animal.

Hi (Mr. Example),

What you have is not actually a standard area rug per se’, it looks as though you have an actual Wool Fleece which is great except for problems with edge curling. Most rug pads will not be of any help to you with this type of rug. One of the best solutions I could offer you would be to add substance and weight to your fleece by applying a secondary backing. You could use any heavy fabric or even a fabric painter’s tarp (or canvas) for your secondary backing. Using a latex based adhesive (a multi-purpose flooring adhesive will work fine) and a stiff paintbrush to apply it and bind your secondary backing to the back of your fleece rug. Here are the steps I would take.

1. Turn fleece rug over so back faces up.

2. Cut your fabric slightly larger than your fleece rug to allow for expansion or contraction of the fabric while the adhesive cures. Dry fit onto the back of the rug and be sure to allow 1 inch or so around all edges (you will trim it exactly after everything is done).

4. Roll back half of the fabric and apply your adhesive (approximately 1/32 to 1/16 inch layer of adhesive, you don’t want the adhesive to ooze through the fabric or the fleece), then roll and press fabric back onto the fleece.

5. Repeat this step for the other half.

6. Before you turn the fleece back over you will probably want to lay out some newspapers or a tarp so you don’t get adhesive on your primary flooring – Then turn the fleece back over.

7. Press and push from center of fleece to the outer edge with your hands to make certain the adhesive binds to the fabric and the back of the fleece.

8 After the adhesive dries completely (follow directions on container for drying time) approximately 4 hours for many adhesives, you can then use scissors to trim the fabric edges to fit the fleece rug. As you trim, make certain you have a good bond between your fabric and the back of the fleece. (You can peel back and re-glue any edges that may need reinforcing).

    Now you have added enough substance and weight to your rug to keep the edges from curling, you should get many years of use out of it without fighting edge curling problems. Many people also use the technique I described above, but only apply a 6 inch strip of canvas to the edges. Since your fleece is so light-weight, I would suggest covering the entire backing according to the steps above. Hope this helps you… write me if you have more questions.

Charles Beason

www.RugRunnerBiz.com

PS. Be sure to use a Fabric, Canvas, or Jute that is heavy or dense, but will still allow the rug to "breathe", this will help prevent the type of problems that occur with solid latex backings. It is very important that moisture and gases can pass through the rug and dissipate into the indoor atmosphere.

 

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