New Rugs

So, we were enjoying a tasty burger at S and B’s  Burger Joint when MJ said that she had seen some nice looking rugs on sale at our Macy’s department store…which is undergoing a liquidation sale and is going out of business.  Since Macy’s was next door to the restaurant…we walked over to have a look.

I vividly recall visiting Tunis, Tunisia during the ‘Arab spring.’  It was in 2011 and our tour guide was very complimentary of Americans and the United States.  We stopped at the ruins of Carthage.  We visited the World War II, American Cemetery.  Our guide spoke of the sacrifice that Americans had given, to aid Tunisia.  Tunisia experiencing Cruise Tours…was new.  It was a direct result of the uprisings and overthrow of totalitarian governments occurring across the Arab world.  We were on a Holland America ship and they had just begun stopping at Tunis.  As our bus snaked its way down the crowded and winding streets of Tunis, many of the residents waved at us and smiled broadly.  However, I did see one angry gentleman who gave us the middle finger as we passed.  One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to a hand-weaving of Tunisian rugs.  When we entered the facility where the rugs were both weaved and displayed, or guide introduced me to his boss.  He smiled and greeted me warmly.

We were ushered into a long room with benches on both sides of it. Several women entered the room and began to distribute tea to each of us as well as sweet cakes.  Then, the hand-crafted rug show began.  I have never seen such beautiful and intricately woven rugs in my life!  The many assistants brought each rug before each of we cruisers and we could feel them and admire they’re craftsmanship.  They were simply exquisite.  The prices were exorbitant.  But, as I observed the negotiations with each prospective buyer, I noticed that the ending cost…was much less than the beginning.  Rugs that sold for $5k…were haggled down to $800.  So, as I, quizzically, observed that although many in our group quickly caught on to the fact of sliding prices…some did not.  To my amazement, the non-negotiators took the first price given and purchased the marvelous handcrafted rugs…on the spot, while others watched the dynamics of the process and held back.

The gentleman that was helping MJ and I at Macy’s, was from Philadelphia and had the singular purpose of selling rugs at the Macy’s liquidation event.  The two rugs that we purchased were 70% off their retail price.  I inquired of the Philadelphian if the, full, retail price was actually what Macy’s sold them for.  He responded that probably not but that they they were, definitely, considerably more expensive, prior to the liquidation.

The closing of our Macy’s store is sad.  MJ and I recall when our Macy’s store was, first, a Famous-Barr store.  Famous was a wonderful department store.  I purchased so many items at our local Famous, that the attendants all knew me by name and each spoke to me every time that I entered the establishment.  In the 1990s we attended the grand opening of Famous-Barr.  There was complimentary wine and horderves and our spirits were at their zenith, as Carbondale and the Southern Illinois region came out to celebrate the grand opening of such a quality department store!  I recall seeing my friends, Don and Shirley Beggs, and pondering what a tremendous addition a Famous-Barr store was going to make in our city.

Our identity with Famous-Barr went back many years before the store came to our town.  We traveled to their headquarters and primary store, in St. Louis, for many Christmases.  The establishment had seven floors of sumptuous consumerism.  On the 7th floor, during the holiday season, there were the animatronic bears.  Virtually the entire floor was the Christmas Bears in their Christmas Village.  As Aaron and Jonathon watched them, with wide eyed wonder, we knew that our Christmas was complete!

Macy’s subsumed Famous-Barr, which was the flagship store of the May Company of St. Louis, in 2006.  Sadly, the quality fell, immediately…and continued to deteriorate for the 14 years of Macy’s occupation of the space.  I remember being so shocked to see that Macy’s, which I had only know from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, was delivering lesser quality than Famous had been.  Yet…there is a profound sadness to see an anchor store in our, once great mall, closing.

However, perhaps a renaissance is afoot?  A new theatre is going to occupy the space that AMC vacated a couple of years back.  Also a new store is moving into a vacant space in our mall.  Let us hope that everything does not gravitate to on-line purchasing….There is a beauty to the tactile efficiency of hands on…store shopping.


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