Capital Buzz: Well-known rug retailer downsizes

September 11, 2011

Chevy Chase-based Parvizian Fine Rugs, a longtime landmark whose customers include congressmen, senators and embassies, is downsizing and moving to smaller space.

The reason?

High-quality handmade Oriental rugs are in short supply, with worldwide production dropping by 50 percent the past five years, said Abdi Parvizian, who opened the original store in 1965, occupying a space where Sylvester Stallone’s mother had owned a beauty salon.

Parvizian said the U.S. embargo on Iranian products has cut off access to some of the finest available rugs, but the growing wealth in emerging markets like China, India and Russia has created demand in those countries.

“The economies of the Third World are growing so fast that right now you have domestic cusomters in those countries. Russia, Japan and India are great customers. Iran is sending rugs to China, where people never bought rugs.”

Parvizian signed a five-year lease with JBG Rosenfield for the new 4,000-square-foot store at 7924 Wisconsin Ave., which is a few blocks to the north of his current 10,000-square-foot location.

Back to business

About 250 people turned out last Tuesday evening for Walker Dunlop’s annual end-of-summer, back-to-business cocktail reception at the Metropolitan Club, hosted by Willy Walker.

With Walker in the mortgage finance business, the event had the usual real estate slant to it with names such as Mike Glosserman of JBG, Esko Korhonen of Federal Capital Partners, Doug Donatelli of First Potomac, Chris Smith of William C. Smith, Chip Lippman of the Carlyle Group , Tom Bozzuto of Bozzuto, Josh Bernstein of Bernstein Management, Albert Small, Richard Levy, Barry Rosenthal ... the list goes on.

Political types included Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and Dan Tangherlini, assistant secretary of the Treasury and former interim general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Throw in lots of top officials from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, TD Bank, Bank of America and PNC.

Longtime local financial consultant Terry Beaty of Brown Advisory said the real estate mood was positive, though no one thinks the halcyon days of 2006 and 2007 are close at hand.

“I heard several converstations about likely cutbacks in spending at some of the consulting firms in the IT world who are heavily concentrated around Tysons Corner,” Beaty said.

The Buzz Hears:

* Jack Novak joined First Virginia Community Bank Sept. 6 as executive vice president working on business development and helping raise growth capital.

Novak left troubled Sterling-based Millenium Bank on Aug. 31 after 2.5 years as chief executive. Millenium had been saddled with problem real estate loans in the residential and commercial sectors.

Undeterred, Novak said he is excited about his new start.

“The community banking industry in Northern Virginia is the best market for community banks in the country,” said the banker, who has 35 years of experience. “There are so many small and mid-size businesses in this area who need banking services that it’s just unbelievable.”

Big week for small firm

Falls Church-based SmithGifford ad agency is on a roll.

Karen Riordan, who joined the 20-employee firm in March after 15 years at Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, has reeled in five new clients, including Inova Health System of Fairfax two weeks.

The others are Washington Gas, the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association, ThinkFood Group and the National Institute for the Severely Disabled.

“Of the five wins, three of them came the best way in any business, which is referrals from other clients. To me, that is the highest compliment,” said Riordan, who worked on Volkswagen, Fidelity Investments and Royal Caribbean Cruise while at Arnold.

Riordan, who handles strategy and marketing for SmithGifford, said the key to attracting clients is to be nimble and be fast.

“Smaller and more flexible agencies are doing well,” she said. “The CEO client needs an agency partner who can zig with them when they zig. When market conditions change, they need to be able to call somebody like me and say, ‘Plan A is dead. We need to put Plan B in effect. We need someone to help us out.’”

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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