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History in the Home

Keljik’s Keeps Tradition Alive

Rugs have long represented a worldwide tradition and history.  Hand woven, flat woven, pile woven, and using various materials such as silk, wool, and cotton, these heavy textiles can be utilitarian or symbolic carrying popularity since the Middle Ages.  China, India, Pakistan, and other Persian countries have continued to provide timeless works of rug art to collectors all over the world. Keljik Oriental Rugs of Minnesota is part of that precious past.  Over 120 years have passed since Bedros Keljik opened the doors in 1899 to service the families living on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Today, grandson Mark Keljik remains part of operations, but transferred ownership in 2016 to longtime family friend, Jim Grenander.  A former neighbor, Jim has known the Keljik family since he was just seven years old; working on and off for Mark at Keljik’s throughout high school and college until finally becoming full-time in 1995.  Jim describes himself as “a people person” and after a short career as a computer programmer at a large corporation, he realized his love for retail was drawing him back to the small, family owned business.  The transition was a natural fit.   

Today, Keljik’s calls 43rd and Bryant home and Jim attributes the long-term success of the business to remaining small, outstanding customer service, and filling a real niche.  Jim comments, “Some people think of us as carpet cleaning, but it is cleaning oriental rugs, and we are very specialized.”

Keljik’s remains full service and carries a wide variety and selection of new, pre-owned, and collectible rugs ranging in size and price.  Jim mentions they “have one of the better selections of older or antique rugs” which can be aged at 75-120 years old, while newer rugs are usually only 30 years old. Their rug selection originates from different countries all over the world, some from estate sales, and a few from rug dealers, but all are sourced carefully based upon material, design, craftmanship, and quality.

Since the investment in a rug can be a large one, Jim doesn’t believe in “high pressure sales and likes to educate buyers.” Shopping in person to see and feel the quality can bring the best results.  The most unique and valuable rug Jim has ever laid eyes on is a 4 x 6 Keshan made of silk, which  incorporates metallic threads and an animal motif.  He says it most likely took two people close to two years or more to finish its construction, and mentions he might never see another likeness in his lifetime.  Aside from rare finds, Jim recommends taking some additional things into consideration before making a purchase.  First and foremost, “Buy something you like” and not necessarily for an investment.  The rug market can frequently fluctuate up and down, so it’s best to invest in a piece you love. It is also good to know the largest and smallest rug dimensions that would fit in the room you are looking to decorate.  Determine if you want a formal or casual look, the color palette, lighting options, and the color and texture of the floor.  These factors can all play a role in the decision-making process.  If the rug will live in a dining room, it is important to make sure the rug is large enough for chairs to be pulled away from the table while still remaining on the rug.  If you have already invested in rugs for your home, Keljik’s can assist with the upkeep and offers cleaning, washing, deodorizing, repairs, re-fringing, serging and hand edging.  Reweaving, re-tufting, and color touch ups can also be accommodated.  If you are looking to appraise or sell, the knowledgeable Keljik staff can help, but maintaining the rug after purchase is key to protecting its value.  Jim suggests cleaning once a year if the rug is located in a high traffic area and cleaning low traffic pieces at least every 3-5 years.

Keljik’s prides themselves on customer service and honesty. Jim stresses, “if it’s not worth cleaning, we tell people.”  He also mentions that a lot of the rug purchasing and cleaning process comes down to trust, and after 120 years - Keljik’s has earned it.

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