Economy pulls rug out from under Chestnut Hill business

After 52 years, Diane Bryman Rugs is going out of business. The Chestnut Hill store, located at 8038 Germantown Avenue is holding a liquidation sale to try to satisfy its creditors. “It’s very sad because we’ve been in this community since 1960,” said Edmond Azizi owner and president of the company.


Recession slows demand for rugs

The trouble began five years ago for the Oriental carpet retailer. “We were doing just fine prior to that, then all of a sudden the sales start dropping,” explained Azizi. He said that low sales coupled with high overhead and taxes are to blame. Azizi stated that Diane Bryman Rugs has not defaulted on any of its loans, but has been only paying interest and not any principal. “We were hoping it was going to get better, so we kept on putting good money into a troubled economy,” Azizi disclosed about the borrowing.

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The store will try to liquidate as much of its merchandise as possible in the next 60 days. Pile upon pile of rugs fill the nearly 10,000 square foot space. Rolls of carpet are stacked against every wall. “It’s hard to get rid of it overnight,” Azizi said. “If you’ve been in business for 52 years, it’s difficult. You can’t just burn and leave.”


Law on liquidation sales

In Pennsylvania, the Defunct Business law requires companies to obtain a permit to hold a going-out-of-business sale. The sale can only run for 30 consecutive days with the possibility for another 30 consecutive day extension. Some going-out-of-business sales have been identified as a quick cash scheme used by unscrupulous fly-by-night carpet businesses. It’s an ironic twist of fate that Azizi, who once gave his expert opinion on the matter in a 1996 Philadelphia Inquirer article, now finds his own business holding such a sale.


Diane Bryman Rugs employs eight people. Azizi would love to somehow keep the store from closing, but said he has to face “heartbreaking” reality. “I don’t see it as a very near possibility,” he commented. “Our concern is to be able to take care of the creditors.” Azizi is hoping the close-out sale will enable the company to do so, but is cautious against any optimism.

“After that, we just have to sit down and see what we have left on the table,” he stated.

Azizi feels the economy plays the biggest role in the company’s financial struggles because of its high end merchandise. Hard times have changed people’s spending habits. “They’re not thinking of luxury,” Azizi noted. Oriental carpet varies in quality based on workmanship, grade of wool, dyes used and where each rugs is made. Azizi’s business specializes in top quality oriental carpets. “People know Diane Bryman for that level,” he remarked. “This is an institution.”


Why is the store called ‘Diana Bryman’?

The Iranian born Azizi met Diane Bryman in New York City in 1977. He recalled that at the time, her store was more of a “broadloom business” looking to improve its expertise in Oriental area rugs, particularly “cream of the crop ” Persian rugs. A three month trial turned into a decision to stay and make Philadelphia his home. Azizi said he’s found Chestnut Hill to be a great community. “I’ve been very lucky to land here.”

Azizi eventually became Diane Bryman’s partner and in 1990 assumed sole proprietorship of the store. The former president of the Oriental Rug Retailers of America hopes the demise of Diane Bryman Rugs does not mean he’ll be forced into retirement. Azizi has no immediate plan beyond the store liquidation, but would like to continue to do “something in this line”, though not necessarily in retail.

“This is my love and passion,” he exclaimed.

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