floor covering and design...with a fuzzy side

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Area Rugs and why they all seem to be the same sizes.

I was asked a great question on our Facebook page today.  

'Why do the rugs have to be 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 -- I need a 7 x 9. Do I have to get one custom made?'

Generally, rug manufacturers offer the following sizes:

2.5" x 8' (a hallway runner)

Even manufactures in the UK use these sizes as their standard offerings.  

Most rugs come close to these size ranges.  Many are slightly smaller. For example, 5'5"x7'8" rather than 6x9 so it is important to take note of what size you need and confirm the exact size of the rug you're looking to purchase.  

Below is a screen-shot from one of the rug manufacturers we carry in our stores, Masland Carpet & Rugs.   As you can see, the sizes are very close to the industry standard sizes above.  

With regard to the origins of standard sizes, originally, every area rug was a custom, handmade piece of art. The only limiting factor as far as size was concerned was the width of the upper beam on the loom (pictured below).  

Here is a great video of handmade rug manufacturing.

As time went on, rug manufacturing was modernized. Below is a video of a modern rug manufacturing machine.  These things are amazing!

Even in the days when all rugs were handmade, they had size limitations (the width of the loom) and would have to build custom looms to create very wide rugs.  When companies began selling rugs in the United States, they looked at the homes at the time for guidance when it came to creating standard sizes.  Based on my research, the 1970's brought about the now standard size offerings.

When we look at the homes in the 70's it is easy to understand.  Hallways are roughly 3' wide and 8-10' long.  The 2'6"x8' hallway runner was birthed from this notion.

The space between the sofa and the television was roughly 5x7.  A dining room table could fit a 6x9 beneath it.  An 8x10 could fill the standard secondary bedrooms at the time and the 9x12 worked in the master bedroom.

With this in mind, rug manufacturers began designing machinery to mass produce rugs to meet the needs of the common American home.  The times have changed as have the sizes of the typical American homes.  With so much variation in home sizes, it wouldn't be cost effective for non-custom manufactures to build machinery for each and every size a customer can think of. 

The logic in sticking with the standard sizes is 1. they assume the customer can always purchase a size smaller to make it work with the room and 2. it would be very expensive to make changes to the existing machinery.

There is good news, however.  There are manufacturers who will make custom sized area rugs such as Masland Carpets & Rugs. (We love Masland and have many samples and selections in our showrooms.  Their website CICK HERE is well worth a visit.)

In addition to using a custom rug manufacturer, you can also have broadloom (wall-to-wall) carpet cut to size and bound or serged.  If you're looking for something fast, our large selection of carpet remnants can quickly and easily be cut to size and finished with binding or serging.  This opens up the door to a nearly unlimited selection of styles and patterns for a custom area rug.

a rug finished with binding
a rug finished with serging

At Bob Wagner's, we offer both binding and serging and have a large selection of in stock carpet remnants at each of our locations; Downingtown, West Chester and Middletown, DE.  As a Masland dealer, customers are able to come in and select from their product line and create their own work of custom art in nearly any size.  Bob Wagner's also has countless broadloom carpet selections to choose from.  

Bob Wagner's has been in business and family owned since 1975.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beginnings: The story of how Bob Wagner started his business

Some of you may know Bob Wagner's story. Some of you have read his book, Fuzzy Side Up.  I'd like to share one of the stories, written by Bob Wagner himself, detailing the origins of his business -long before it became the premiere floor (and window) covering business in Chester County.


    By the end of 1974, Advanced Schools (where Bob was currently employed) was rumored to be going bankrupt.  Time for another job. I thought about looking for a job in insurance but I knew I could not pass their test.  So I decided to start my own business.  I went to the phone book yellow pages and read them A to Z.  I always liked the letter C; it reminded me of Mom’s canary, Arnold that was eaten by my cat, Henry.  What took up the most space in C was carpet.  It was a no-brainer –fuzzy side up.
     In our town there were five carpet dealers.  I visited each one as a customer for one reason or another.  I left each one with the feeling that it could have been a much better experience.  So the competition was weak.  That was good; who wants to compete with genius?  My first thought was to work for a future competitor.  I called all of them and told them my plan.  I said I was willing to work twenty-four hours a week for six months, doing whatever they needed done, for nothing.  The rest of the time, I had to make some money to live on. Believe it or not, no one took me up on this.  I remember sitting there thinking, This is not rocket science or brain surgery, so just go for it. That’s what I did.
     We didn’t have more than $1000 saved, so Di went to work as a bookkeeper at Downingtown Senior High School to make the $150 a month we needed for the mortgage and food.  I went to Philadelphia to visit carpet distributors.  They brought from the mills and sold mostly to Mom and Pop-type stores.  I bought $300 worth of deck boards; they were about three feet square with a large carpet sample on the front and little swatches underneath.  I called my business Chester County Floor Covering Company and had cards and flyers made up.  I said goodbye to my XKE and bought a Chevy Suburban.
     Now I’m ready, I thought.  I have a product, a supplier, work ethic, common sense, and thousands of people who need carpet.  The only things I didn’t have were a store or money for advertising.  No problem.  I went door to door and handed out my flyers to every house in Downingtown.  I still remember how cold it was that February.
     Two weeks later, someone finally called to ask about carpet.  Great!  Her name was Franny Eachus.  I went out with samples and a tape measure.  She wanted kitchen carpet.  Her choice wasn’t all that difficult since I only had three samples.  She asked me how much it would cost.  Her kitchen was 13’ x 15’, and the carpet came 12 feet wide.
     This possibility had never occurred to me.  I hesitated for a second, and said, “Mrs. Eachus, now that I have your selection and the measurements of your kitchen, I will go back and figure it out and call you tomorrow.  Is that okay?”
“Sure,” she said with a smile. 
     I think she knew I was new to this.  I tried as hard as I could, but I couldn’t figure out how I could put a 12-foot wide carpet in a 13’ x 15’ space.  I couldn’t call a competitor, so I called a store far away.  I found one in Delaware County, called Factory Rug.  I called and asked if they would help me.  It was a miracle; they said they would.  The next morning I went down, and they showed me how to figure it out.
     As it turned out, Fanny needed a 12’ x 20’ which came out to 26.67 square yards.  I didn’t quite understand how they did it, but I did understand that the carpet was going to cost me $4.00 a square yard.
     I went back to Fanny that afternoon, and she agreed to purchase the carpet.  I said, “I’ll order your carpet today and call you tomorrow to let you know when it will be in.”  I called my distributor Seymour Waldman and ordered her carpet.  Since I was new, I didn’t have any credit established with them, and was told that they would accept a certified check.  The next day, certified check in hand, I went to Philadelphia and picked up the rug.  I called Fanny and told her that her rug was in.
“Great,!” she said.  “When will you install it?”
     Problem.  I can’t install carpet.  After a short silence, I told her I would call her back with a date.  I called Nancy at Factory Rug and explained to them that I needed someone to install the carpet.
“When would you like it installed?” she asked.
“As soon as possible,” I told her.
“How’s tomorrow?” Great. 
     I told her how many yards were to be installed.  She told me it would cost $4.00 per square yard and $.25 per yard to glue down.
“How much metal reducer will you need?” she asked.  I didn’t know. 
“We’ll bring 12 feet at fifty cents a foot,” she said. 
     I put all the figures on paper.   They calculated as follows:

     Glad it wasn’t a big Job.  It was a lesson well learned.  I guess sometimes stupidity is bliss.  Thank you, Fanny, wherever you are.

To view this and more great stories about the origins of Bob Wagner's on our newly designed website.  CLICK HERE