Oriental rug art

The Oriental Shop

The Oriental Shop — a handmade rug retail business that has operated in the same Green Hills retail space for 40 years — will close on Oct. 1.

Owner Robert Howell said he plans to retire, with the Grace’s Plaza shop to handle some final close-out work through year’s end.

Howell’s grandfather, A.S. Harb, started what is today known as The Oriental Shop in the 1920s in Evansville, Indiana. He was later joined by various family members in operating the business.

In 1930, Harb closed in Evansville and worked in various states (mainly Tennessee) selling Oriental rugs.

The Oriental Shop began operations in Green Hills in 1978 within the space of the since-closed Payne Furniture. Harb moved the business to the rear segment of Grace’s Plaza in 1982, with The Oriental Shop the only tenant ever to have operated from the space (2121 Bandywood Drive).

Harb died in 1985, with Howell taking over management of the shop in 1993 and ownership in 1999. The business will close with three employees.

“It’s been a wonderful run but I’m ready to pursue other interests,” Howell said.

Harb’s Oriental Rug Service, a sister business located in 12South, will continue operations for the immediate future.

Nashville is home to approximately six similar Oriental rug shops and six furniture stores that sell such high-end rugs.

The Oriental Shop — which specializes in rugs made in Afghanistan, China, Iran, India, Pakistan and Turkey — currently is offering a closing sale, with all rugs priced at least 50 percent off standard retail price.

My Nashville Post role has evolved since 2000 when I joined the now-defunct The City Paper. TCP became a Post sister publication in 2008 (when I began doing some Post work) and folded in 2013. I have been managing editor of the Post since late 2011.