Six days a week, accompanied by Susie, his German Shorthaired Pointer, David Rejebian opens the door to his elegant North Dallas rug shop and invites his friend to relax and sit down with him. That gentle kindness and hospitality is exactly what customers have always felt walking into Rejebian & Son but, after 83 years, David is selling his exquisite stock of oriental carpets and going out of business.
Why would a man beloved by Dallasites who send their children and grandchildren to his store to invest in heirloom quality rugs retire when there is still so much opportunity for Rejebian & Son?
“I am Rejebian, but I have no children,” he says with a wry smile and modest simplicity. Then he tells the family history.
“Almost 100 years ago, my grandfather escaped the Armenian genocide with his life. He lost most of his family, but he had an uncle in the U.S. who sponsored his immigration. He actually had to go through Ellis Island twice, since his uncle had trouble proving he could financially support my grandfather.”
It took tremendous strength of character and faith, but Vahram Rejebian apprenticed himself to his uncle, then made his way to Dallas and opened a rug store in 1934.
“They started in Titche’s department store,” David says. “Titche-Goettinger. My father worked in the store from the time he could walk, and I grew up among these magic carpets myself. As a 7 year-old, I used to ride the Baltimore and Colgate bus to go downtown and visit them after school.”
It’s easy to picture the little boy scrambling among the stacks of colorful rugs. What a marvelous playground for an imaginative child!
David grew up in his family’s store and fed off stories, learning everything he could from his grandfather about the history and craft of rug making, how to serve customers, and how to live.
“You don’t learn the rug business from going to school. You learn the rug business by being in the rug business.”
His grandfather would have David stack rugs into a pile of 40 or 50 only to knock it over. The repetition gave David a chance to know the feel of each kind of rug.
With no children of his own, it now becomes clear why David gives Susie free range to climb and play as she likes among the stacks. She’s an impeccably trained hunting dog, but in the store she’s content to find the best place for a nap.
David describes a trip with his wife Dawn to New York when they visited Ellis Island. David imagined his ancestor staring through those same windows toward America, thinking to himself, “I’ve come all this way. If I can just get there.”
“He realized that if he could get here, he could make whatever he wanted for himself,” David says. “And he did!”
“If you think about doing business on a multi-generational basis, the only way you can do that is if you’ve been fair and honest with people,” David says. “My grandfather and father taught me how to keep a customer. It’s a lot easier than to get a new one. You treat people fairly and give them a good product so they come back. A person that buys a rug will remember the person who sold it to them a lot longer than they will remember how much they paid for the rug.”
Today, Rejebian & Son is located on Alpha Road in North Dallas and his customers come from Preston Hollow and Plano, but David notes that many of his buyers live in the same neighborhoods where his grandfather and father’s customers lived back in the 1930s and 40s. The Park Cities have remained the core of the customer base from the start and business from Oak Cliff has bounced back.
He knows this because David has sales records dating as far back as 1937, which he keeps tucked among an extensive reference library accumulated by his father, who took a scholarly interest in the history, art, and craft of oriental rugs.
Both the records and Rejebian’s rare antiquarian book collection have been a blessing for customers wondering about their rug’s history. Not only can David tell them exactly when their parents or grandparents purchased a rug from his family, he can provide an origin story for the carpet, with insight into its provenance. Colors, patterns, materials, and weaving techniques are specific to different regions and David Rejebian is well-versed as a subject matter expert.
“My grandfather and father took purchasing trips to the Far East and Middle East, bringing back detailed information about the goods they imported. Handmade carpets are investment purchases. If someone wants to know about and understand a rug, I want to help by sharing from all my years of experience.”
David is in such high demand for his consultation and appraisal services that he will continue to provide those long after he has sold the remainder of the collection he has so carefully curated.
Walk into any well-decorated living room in Dallas or its suburbs and there’s a chance you’ll be standing on or near one of the exquisite oriental rugs sold or appraised by the Rejebians these past three generations.
“The fun part for me is that heirloom merchandise like this is a little section of the history of Dallas. Often these works of art get to go from one generation to another, but sometimes they are sold to a dealer after a few decades and then find a brand new home and become an heirloom for another family. It’s incredibly special when you can end up with a rug of your own family back 70 years later.”
“You can buy this rug, use it as long as you want, and it retains value. It’s a big investment, but a reasonable amount of care and you pass it on to somebody else.”
“I don’t know what else in the home furnishing industry you can do that with,” Rejebian muses. “Art, that’s what this is, functional art.”
These 83 years have been a magical journey for the Rejebian family and David feels privileged to have continued the tradition of gracious service so well established by his grandfather and father.
He looks forward to continuing to help Dallas families with appraisals for many years to come, but he anticipates selling the last of his rugs by early Spring. Come March and April, you’ll find David and Susie outside, hunting.
“She’s been very patient all these years!”