TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  10-29-2001 on 07:11 a.m.
Dear folks -

In another thread Steve mentions that it is important to see how things start in a mutually rewarding collector/dealer relationship.

That dynamic is important and is, I think, affected by many things outside either party's real control.

I have by now several pretty good relationships with what I feel are "good" dealers, but it may be interesting to attempt to describe a bit how I think the most important relationship of this sort that I have got established.

First, I came into this dealer's place unintroduced. I was a relative novice (still am, if the truth is to be served) and he had no reason to treat me especially seriously but he did.

Perhaps, it was that in our intitial conversation he spotted that I have particular (intellectual) interests that he shares. Pehaps, it is that we both like good conversation and seemed immediately to be having it together. Perhaps, it was, in part, that I made a fairly substantial purchase of a piece quite early.

Whatever, it was there was an initial and almost immediate personal chemistry on both sides that fed everything else that has followed. I don't think that either of us could have predicted that this would happen and I'm not sure that either of us knows yet what really happened. But it was important. This person will not sell you a rug if he does not like you personally. So one of the first rules is treat dealers so that they are likely to want to talk to you again.

A second small courtesy, has, I think attracted his favorable attention. His is a small shop and often when we are talking, his phone rings. When this happens, I always walk into his second room to make his conversation private. I think that not many people do this and I think he appreciates the care I project in this little "ceremony."

I now visit his shop perhaps three of four times a week. I enjoy his conversation and he mine, and we usually talk about lots of things besides rug, and I drink a lot of his tea, but I try never to forget that this is a business and that his time is money. If he were not talking to me, he could be working on the next deal in some way. So I am careful to find ways to make sure that his investment in me is continually worth his while.

I, of course, buy things from him or have him do substantial restorations for me, from time to time. I also bring him information from the literature, from the Textile Museum (he virtuously holds himself away from any relationship with museum as untoward), from Turkotek (I've recently convinced him to get computer for his children) and from the local ruggy community.

I am not sure that I always see everything first (I'm not interested in "everything" and he knows it) but I think I see things first quite often and I give very serious consideration to anything I'm shown on that basis. I am also quick to signal to him if a piece that he is showing me first is not one that I can or want to afford. Any I have helped him sell pieces to others and even, sometimes to buy pieces from others.

We have, if I do not deceive myself, a very real friendship that has grown out of the symbiosis constructed on the basis of my collecting interest and his business interest.

I think the central feature is that we are both constantly alert to treat each other seriously and respectfully as persons. I think without that it would not been possible for us to construct nor would we be able to maintain the very real symbiosis that we enjoy.

Perhaps that may help others seeking such relationships.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  11-07-2001 on 12:46 a.m.

You say you visit this shop three or four times A WEEK?!?!?!
I think if you visited Vincent that often he would banish you to his CAVE !
I hope you buy the tea now and again.

And this symbiosis thing, is it contagious?

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-07-2001 on 05:39 p.m.
Hi Pat -

Yes, it may be a bit much but I do try to make sure that I don't abuse his time and watch his reactions for signs that he wants to be doing other things.

Actually I buy boxes of tea and have been presumptious enough to try to "improve" his taste but he returns to Lipton without my proding.

I think the frequent visits may not be entirely improper since I am constantly bringing him things (yesterday information about two wonderful little signed miniature paintings at a local flea market that I think he would like to own.

Last week I helped with a deal he wanted to make without his having to deal directly with a particular person. In his judgment an American face would be better and it apparently was.

The week before last I brought him a book on Persian Mythology which seems quite a bit better that the usual Hamlyn effort. Lots of good picture and a seemingly authoratative and not entirely superficial text by John Hinnels.

Note to Richard Farber: This might be another one of interest. Here's an AddAll link to an inexpensive copy.


Anyway, Pat, as I said, I could deceive myself (married people discover all the time that they're not in the relationship they thought they were in) but I think this is a relationship in which we both see and experience some advantages.

And I do buy things, sometimes.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  11-07-2001 on 09:19 p.m.

On one hand, I envy the type of relationship you have developed that you are both comfortable with and is useful to both of you. On the other hand it almost sounds like you are an unpaid worker!
I have to admit that, when the occaision arises at a rug store, I have helped move a few rugs, helped a customer with carrying a rug out the door to the car and even "held down the fort" while one dealer went out to get some tea across the street. These are courtesies that take the edge off what would otherwise be merely a sterile business relationship.

The difference lies in the type of dealer we are speaking of. Most "NEW" rug dealers mostly work with decorators and people for whom the rug is like the lamp, just another furnishing. They are really furniture dealers.

The Antique/Collectible rug dealers are Art dealers, with a more sophisticated, engaged,demanding clientele requiring more hands-on interaction, long-term relationships. They are specialists, and they don't sell a commodity, but a specialty.

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  11-08-2001 on 03:46 a.m.
Dear John,

My very first serious rug dealer relationship evolved out of a client/consultant relationship. In 1980, as you may recall, interest rates skyrocketed, rendering the eleven homebuilders/developers I represented inactive. This gave me a lot of free time. The dark thrill of seeing movies in the afternoon and hanging out at Oak Street Beach wore off after a while. I decided to find a new body of knowledge to learn about. Oriental rugs sounded mysterious and sufficiently esoteric to be of interest. So I figured I could learn while finding some new clients. I hit all the rug dealers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area and finally found one who knew the importance of innovative advertising and reputation-building publicity.

I started hanging out at his store to learn enough about the rugs and his way of doing business to create ads and publicity that captured the special flavor of the place. For the six years that he had the store I was there at least twice a week, sometimes more. Every Friday I went there at noon, picked up fried shrimp from Chicago's finest fish shack (now long gone), and collaborated with him on the new radio and newspaper ads we placed each week. My kids grew up trampolining from the top of one pile of rugs to another.

Probably half my fees went in trade for rugs. You want to talk "symbiotic"? Well, that's about as symbiotic as you can get. I was there as each new bundle of rugs was unrolled and added to inventory. So I got the pick of the litter. They were just about my first rugs, almost none of which I would buy today, but which I cannot even think of trying to sell. They represent a time in my life when I was so very enthusiastic about absolutely everything to do with rugs.


Subject  :  Re:Constructing Real Symbiosis
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-08-2001 on 06:22 a.m.
Pat -

I am not "unpaid" at all. A conversation with this man is like a graduate school seminar on rugs and Persian society. The learning in them for me is enormous. The things I do in return are often very useful to him but I suspect my "tuition" bill is underpaid.

Jerry's recount seems very similar, although his seems to have been more centrally initiated and rooted in an actual business relationship.


R. John Howe

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