Persian rugs are often prized works of art in homes, their roots stemming to Iran, where, for hundreds of years, they've been handmade by weavers and dyed with natural ingredients.
The lifting of sanctions against Iran in mid-January is expected to make the carpets more affordable, according to Hamid Dehbod, of Oriental Rug Gallery, 11055 W. Bluemound Road. Dehbod is Iranian, and a third-generation rug salesman.
The U.S. and other countries agreed to lift sanctions against Iran earlier this year, enabling the country to reopen its doors to the international economy. The economic embargo was imposed in 2012 in an effort to curb Iran's nuclear program. Dehbod predicts his customers will reap the benefits of the new international relationships.
'By the end of this year, we will see a great change that will happen and it's going to affect everybody,' he said. 'It will definitely affect the price and the selection.'
Dehbod said he makes the trip to Iran at least once a year to meet with weavers and rug vendors in order to purchase the rugs he'll need for his stores in Wisconsin. Under the embargo, Dehbod said he switched to buying rugs from Pakistan and India, which were also high quality, he said, but not quite like the Persian rugs he was accustomed to.
'Now, directly, we go to Iran,' he said of the lifted sanctions.
Dehbod's nephew, Hemad Fadaifar, also works for the family's rug business.
'When the embargo happened, weavers stopped weaving because the demand wasn't as high,' he said. 'Less rugs were being woven. They were a little bit more scarce and more expensive for everybody.'
Fadaifar said he's been around rugs for much of his life, and remembers, at 8 years old, jumping from rug to rug in his family's store. The embargo put a strain on families in Iran, he said. Parents taught their children that rug weaving was no longer a viable career path under the embargo. In turn, the number of weavers dwindled.
'Weavers are starting to weave again,' he said of the lifted sanctions. 'There's an amazing sense of pride. A big wave throughout the country.'
Dehbod said rug shipments were far from the only industry affected by the embargo. Other products like pistachios, saffron and caviar are widely produced in Iran and are likely to be cheaper to consumers in the future, he said.
The businessman said those interested in learning more about the Iranian culture should stop by the store.
'Rugs (are) the art form of my country,' he said. 'I love to not only sell that art, but teach them about the art.'