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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bob Anderson, owner of Aaron's Oriental Rug Gallery on Broadway, flips through a selection of Persian rugs.

  • Persian rugs like those at Oriental Rug Gallery on Broadway are no longer allowed to be imported.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:00 am

Local vendors hit by item's embargo

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

Bob Anderson was surprised when he had to remove the Persian rugs he had listed for sale online.

Anderson, owner of Aaron's Oriental Rug Gallery on Broadway, was required to remove the rugs following President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, which once again placed an embargo on imports from the country.

“We had to pull all of them off the internet,” Anderson says.

The biggest frustration, however, is that there has been no real clarification on what Anderson can or can't do when it comes to selling or buying the rugs, he says.

“It's all quite, quite odd,” Anderson says.

Anderson doesn't expect the new embargo to affect his business. Most of his sales are rugs from Nepal, Tibet and India. The rugs from Persia and Iran make up only about 5 percent of his overall rugs, he says.

But Ben Clymer, owner of the Fort Wayne online business Bewyac Group, which sells mostly Persian rugs from Iran, has seen his sales drop because of the changes. Clymer says by email that he uses e-commerce sites for some advertising and has had all his listings dropped from one platform because his products are made in Iran.

“This is forcing me to change how I advertise and encourages me to grow my website,” Clymer writes.

Clymer says he is still waiting to see what the effects will be from the recent Iran sanctions. He doesn't import products from Iran but instead buys the rugs from others that may import.

So far, he hasn't seen any changes in being able to find rugs to buy.

Anderson says he has had to deal with the many embargoes of Iran over the years that prevented him from buying rugs from that country. But when President Barack Obama struck the Iran deal, which lifted the embargo in 2016, Anderson still didn't buy any rugs from Iran because the rugs had fallen out of favor with customers, he says.

“We didn't import them because the quality (had) dropped off,” says Anderson, adding that he hasn't bought a new rug from Iran in years.

However, customers can still buy Persian rugs at Aaron's. Most of the Persian rugs Anderson carries are antique rugs, woven prior to 1930, he says. He says Aaron's has a whole room devoted to antique rugs.

But as for the most recent embargo, Anderson says so far he hasn't seen any rules for sellers. “It's all a real puzzle to us.”