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The Rugs as Art Story: A Journey to Paradise

From a Family’s Dream to an Award-Winning Store Full of Masterpieces for Your Floor!

In the early-to-mid 1980s, John and Lucy Murse embarked on a journey from Pennsylvania to find the perfect place to call home and realize John’s dream of owning a beautiful rug store. The quest led them to various places in the Southeastern US over a two-year period.

However, just like the classic “Goldilocks” tale, nothing felt ‘just right,’ prompting the family to take a break and visit Lucy’s aunt and uncle in Florida. “They were on Anna Maria Island, which we’d never heard of before,” said John. “Lucy’s uncle told us to check out Sarasota as a possible location,” he added.

John visited Sarasota, did his due diligence, and realized it was the right fit. “Sarasota wasn’t too big or too small. It had the flavor of a large community and the tempo of a smaller town,” he explained. Plus, his research indicated that Sarasota would experience steady growth potential over the next 25 years.

Rugs As Art, Inc. began in an 800 sq. ft. space in Gulf Gate in 1986. In 1989, it relocated to a South Tamiami Trail location of 4,500 sq. ft. They launched an online presence in 1992, and in June 2001, Rugs as Art moved to its present 20,000 sq. ft. building two miles south of the previous South Trail location.

The building was designed to last, boasting 14-foot ceilings, handsome hardwood flooring, excellent lighting, and efficient rack systems accommodating several thousand rugs, accessories, and furnishings. Separate areas are dedicated to handmade, machine-made, and custom-made area rugs.

The business was founded with the objective of providing quality area rugs to the Sarasota market with superior selection, outstanding service, and highly attractive pricing. The selection has always included top-quality traditional Orientals, world-class contemporary designs, and many levels of classics in between.

When asked about the secret to Rugs as Art’s longevity, John first gives credit to a higher power. He also believes one key to the company’s success is a personal relationship with the community. “We have repeat customers of 38 years,” said John. “They come back because they enjoy dealing with us, and they know there is a great sense of integrity and honesty here.”

“We always live by the 3 S’s,” said Jesse Murse.  “That is SELECTION, SAVINGS, & SERVICE.”  Jesse explained that “Rugs As Art has a selection of thousands of rugs to choose from with savings that can put a smile on your face, and we are known for our awarding winning customer service, before and after the sale.”

Being a family business is rewarding and also a huge plus.  Today two of John and Lucy’s three sons and their wives all engaged in the business and “all share their talents in different ways,” he explained.

Over 38 years as a staple in Sarasota, the Murse family continues to earn high praises not only from customers, but also from international vendors, manufacturers, and industry icons receiving multiple awards and recognition.  The industry magazine Rug News called the business a ‘one-store regional powerhouse.’  “Rugs As Art is an anomaly in the world of 21st-century retailing and attracts customers from an ever-expanding area of demographic influence,” it continued.

An important part of the Rugs As Art philosophy is making sure customers become educated about rugs. “We offer a product people don’t necessarily understand a lot about.  We simplify the explanation, educating our customers so they have a better comprehension of what they are considering purchasing,” said John.

What’s more, the store boasts an in house repair and fabrication shop that can help restore and repurpose customers’ existing rugs.  Also, for those who need that extra help in finding something special, Rugs As Art offers a custom rug design center with a dedicated graphic designer who can help assist your imagination and creativity run wild and develop your own rug, for example, transform a photo of your pet into an area rug, John explained. “My old saying is: ‘If we don’t have it, can’t get it, or can’t make it, you don’t need it!’”


 

"Our customers come back because they enjoy dealing with us, and they know there is a great sense of integrity and honesty here.”

"Our selection has always included top-quality traditional Orientals, world-class contemporary designs, and many levels of classics in between."

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