Steve Blumkin – President and Co-founder of Outrageous Rugs

[quote style=”boxed”]As simple as this may sound, when possible I take a 15 to 20 minute cat nap, which makes the remainder of the day much more productive.[/quote]

Steve Blumkin is the owner, president and founder of Outrageous Rugs, the premier decorative area rug store in San Diego, with multiple locations in that city and Orange County.

Prior to that, Steve dabbled in real estate, furniture retail, running a coffee plantation in Costa Rica and running a rainforest conservation foundation in the Osa Penisula of Costa Rica. Born in Nebraska, Steve holds a Bachelor of Business and Real Estate from the University of Arizona. He is married to real estate agent and investor Cindy Blumkin and is father to two sets of twins; Juan and Babba Blumkin, age 31 and Zachary and Lilli Blumkin, age 14.

Where did the idea for Outrageous Rugs come from?

After spending many years in the home furnishing business it occurred to me there was a specialty niche for an area rug superstore that would offer area rugs at all price points and quality points. Moving to California, I observed the tremendous explosion in the housing industry and the move away from carpet and toward hard surfaces, which was a great opportunity for an area rug store. I called up one of my best friends from Omaha and said that I wanted to open a rug store in San Diego and wanted a catchy name. At the time there was a fabulous rug store in Florida called Absolutely Rugs, which was a name I really liked. I suggested calling it Absolutely Rugs West and my friend said; “you would be spending your first year in court, call it Outrageous Rugs.”

What does your typical day look like?

As for my typical day, I wake up to my lovely family; make breakfast for my daughter Lilli then head off to the gym. When I do arrive at work my mind is clear, my body is fresh and I am ready to give it my all.

How do you bring ideas to life?

First, I perceive the opportunity and make sure I understand all of the moving parts that will allow that perception to turn into reality.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The trend of new materials being introduced for rugs excites me. It has expanded selection at all price points. Weaving technology, particularly computer driven design and weaving is also constantly evolving, as well as techniques in hand weaving.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

As simple as this may sound, when possible I take a 15 to 20 minute cat nap, which makes the remainder of the day much more productive.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

My worst job happened when I was a coffee farmer in Costa Rica. I made a huge mistake by patching a sewer line gas release valve. As a result, 16 hours later I heard a huge explosion, walked out of my house and all of the clay pipes leading to the septic tank had exploded. My associates at the time would have nothing to do with cleaning up the mess that I had created. I was left on my own to do the cleanup and 8 hours later all of the broken pipes and residue were bagged and hauled off. That was a rough job and a smelly one, I might add. It became a favorite joke among the neighbors! What I learned from it, though, is if you do not know how to do something, consult someone who knows. This is true in anything you undertake, always seek the advice of someone who has experience. Obviously, plumbing was not in my bag of tricks at that time.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I had to start again, I would arrange my showrooms based on color. When consumers come into our store the first consideration is typically color. Arranging a showroom by color simplifies the experience for the consumer.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Giving associates recognition when a job is well done and providing constructive resolutions to issues.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Maintaining a relationship with the professional design community has allowed our business to continue throughout many ups and downs in the economy. The business has changed with changes in the housing industry, but there are always professional designers working on a project somewhere that require rugs from Outrageous Rugs. We are able to get through any lean times by keeping in contact with these designers and getting a heads up on any major projects they’re working on where they’ll need rugs.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

This is related to my answer for the last question. Hedging on the future with our products requires 6-12 months lead time. We’ve been overly optimistic at times and have ended up with a lot of surplus inventory that we’ve needed to get rid of during a down time. We called around to our contacts in the design field and found projects where we could unload a lot of rugs quickly to help us move surplus stock.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There is a service market for delivery and setup of home accessories and area rugs.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I have a degree in Holistic Medicine, many principles of which I put into use every day.

What software and web services do you use?

Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, iPhone and iPad. I’m still pretty old school! I also love QR Codes.

What do you love about them?

I love all the “old” technology because of familiarity. But the QR codes have helped us a lot. Many of the rugs in our store have QR Codes. If a customer likes the rug but wants to see some other options, you can scan the code and update the customer right there on the spot. Most of our vendors have websites showing their current product line, which is a great way to work with customers exploring options other than in-store inventory.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recently read Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand and recommend it to everyone. People should read it because it is an incredible example of mind over matter. An individual is put into the most difficult situation anybody could ever imagine and overcomes incredible atrocities.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My grandmother Rose Blumkin, my father Louie Blumkin, my mother Frances Blumkin and Warren Buffet. My parents and grandparents believed in honesty, integrity, sincerity and hard work with a philanthropic philosophy. My grandmother always said if you pay attention to me you will learn more than in any school! And Warren Buffet has continually shown his business savvy throughout the years and I think everyone can learn from him.


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