Mikael Manoukian and his mother Dona are keeping alive a family business that is over 100 years old. Learn their story and how their business adapted during COVID.

The Manoukian brothers fled the Armenian genocide and settled in Washington, DC, in the 1920s. After working in grocery stores, and small bodegas, the brothers decided to use their knowledge of textiles acquired back home to open a rug store in Washington Circle. “My grandfather and great uncles probably chose the industry [textiles] out of knowledge and necessity,” says Mikael Manoukian, third-generation business owner. One hundred years later, Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs is the oldest and longest family-run rug business in the Washington metro area.

Whether you are visiting their showroom on 2330 Columbia Pike or navigating their new website (Thank you, Bizlaunch), you will find clear and upfront services and authentic hand-knotted wool products throughout. “We try to offer authentic rugs, while others can sell silk and artificial materials, our focus is a variety of hand-knotted wool rugs sourced from textile artisans in Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan,” states Mikael. When you buy a wool rug you are making a lifetime commitment, rugs can last years with the proper care, “there’s a cycle of activity that keeps the customer engaged with us and us with the customer,” Mikael says. This also means that their customer base tends to be older. Mikael shares that they’ve had customers for 50 years, sometimes longer.

When COVID-19 hit, Manoukian Brothers, like many small businesses in Arlington, had to rethink and adapt to a new way of doing business. “{During Covid} people were not traveling much, homes had also become offices, and people were working, living, playing, and fixing things in their homes. We started offering house services such as picking and dropping off rugs. On good weather days, we did service rug evaluations outside to accommodate our
customers,” says Mikael.

The large showroom was home to a diverse selection of free music through the online “Rug Shop Concerts” series. The goal was to support artists and bring cheer to the community. Mikael mentions how the concert helped with brand awareness, and they started to engage more with Arlington County Economic Development and all the free resources offered to small businesses.

Specifically, he worked with BizLaunch to revamp Manoukian Brother’s website. He also frequently uses the Arlington County Public Library’s free resources for businesses, and at the time of this interview, we were able to share with him the recent acquisition of new databases, Statista and Demographics Now, all free to use for anyone with a library card. “I use all of the resources every day, literally every day.” he emphasizes.“Bizlaunch gave us a new website that we use, and our customers use. The reference librarians are pretty accessible and just one call away” says Mikael smiling.

As for the future, Mikael hopes to improve the quality of services, expand capacity and possibly find a place they could call their own where they could be for the next hundred years. He’s hopeful it will be on Columbia Pike.

Visite Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs
2330 Columbia Pike, Arlington, Virginia 22204
Sígalos en redes sociales: @manoukianrugs
Website: manoukianbrothers.com