Can you buy rugs online? The short answer is “yes you can,” but in reality, it’s more complicated than that. There are three significant problems with buying a rug online. One is that you most likely won’t have a relationship with the dealer, which puts you at a distinct disadvantage. Another is that you can’t try the rug out in your home, and this is almost more critical than the relationship, although these two things go hand in hand. Finally, pictures just don’t adequately communicate the colors and texture of the rug. I’ve never bought a rug online that looked like the picture, I’m uncertain as to the reason for this but it is a truth nonetheless.
If you know a dealer in a distant location, and you trust them, you might be able to successfully buy a rug from them. You will be able to tell the dealer what it is you are looking for, they will know your tastes and perhaps even your home, allowing them to let you know whether a rug will be a good fit for you. Alternately, if you find an online dealer who will let you return the rug for free, then you can test the rug in your space the same way you would take a rug home and try it in your local market.
Both of these scenarios are unlikely, though, and the reality is that it’s not a great option to buy a rug online. You might feel like you have found a great rug at a very low price, but the chances of your buying an inferior or poorly priced rug are high. As tempting as it may be to purchase rugs online, I recommend that you shop with a local dealer you can trust. It may feel like you are paying more, but I guarantee that in the end you will actually save money by going to a reputable local dealer who can guide you to a rug you love. The best dealers are teachers at heart, and they will want to impart their knowledge to you – be sure to capitalize on the opportunity, not only to purchase the perfect rug, but to learn the stories behind it.
Sam Ramazani is an Oriental carpet educator, appraiser, broker, and skilled repair craftsman. With his daughter Sara, he owns Sara’s Oriental Rugs in Louisville, KY, providing beautiful handmade rugs, as well as expert rug cleaning and repair.