HOLTON — Sherry Ireland has successfully turned a hobby collecting Persian rugs into a business offering a unique home decor option that has seen interest from buyers in Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City.
Persian rugs may seem a bit eccentric or exotic, but Ireland, owner of Dragonfly Yoga and Persian Rugs, said they’re the best home centerpiece. She’s been selling her Persian rug collection from a shop at 106 W. 5th Street, where she also operates a yoga studio, since last September. Since then her selection of more than 200 rugs has gained some attention.
“You can instantly transform a bland and boring room,” she said. “The colors are amazing and the patterns are interesting. There’s such a wide variety, no two are alike.”
Rugs of all sizes and prices dot the floor and walls of the store. The largest, a 10-foot by 13-foot Kashmar rug, hangs on the wall, while long narrow rugs run along the floor on top of each other with smaller area rugs. They all feature dark blues, deep reds and intricate patterns and most date to the 1920s and ’30s, she said.
Ireland said she owns all the rugs without any debt, so she can sell them at cheaper wholesale prices. Small rugs can cost $50 to a few hundred dollars, but larger and older rugs will be more expensive, around $1,200 or $1,500, she said.
The shop doesn’t have set hours. Instead, Ireland opens during special events and will meet customers by appointment.
People have taken notice. Some of her first customers were yoga students — Ireland teaches yoga four evenings a week in the shop with students laying their mats on top of the rugs instead of the hardwood floor — but Knotty Rug Company, a dealer in Kansas City, Kan. and Lawrence home store Tooter and Tillaye’s Home Goods bought multiple rugs to sell themselves.
Dana Niemack, Tooter &Tillaye’s owner, said the rugs she purchased have been popular.
“For the price you pay, you’re getting a very high quality rug,” she said. “To me they’re timeless.”
Bobbi McGrath, who purchased five rugs for a Holton loft apartment in July, said the rugs blend well with both modern and traditional home designs. She uses rugs in the living room as well as the kitchen on hardwood floors and over white beige carpet. One of her rugs has a pattern that resembles bearded men, another has a pink pattern.
“I wake up in the morning and I can’t help but look at them. The have so much color and they’re so interesting,” McGrath said. “They’re not like anything you’ll find.”
If it seems odd for a Persian rug shop to pop up in Holton, that’s because Ireland had no intentions of becoming a Persian rug dealer. She attended an estate sale in Topeka’s Westboro neighborhood and purchased a few rugs for her own home. She was so pleased with them she started looking for others and eventually purchased about 500 through dealers and online. She’s shrunk the collection by half since opening the store, but doesn’t necessarily have plans to buy more.
“This is basically a hobby gone wild,” she said.