Weaving a legacy: For the Eways family, rug repair is everyone’s business

Photo: Martyn Kyle Photo: Martyn Kyle

Staying power. That’s a quality you want in a family business—and in your home goods. Frank Eways Jr. knows the importance of both. As a third-generation rug retailer and repairer, he’s been in the biz a long time, and some 85 years after his grandfather, Salem Eways, started the company.

Salem came to the United States as a stone mason and, in the late 1920s, began selling fine textiles door to door in New York City. When an opportunity presented itself to earn money cleaning and repairing rugs, Salem and his brother took it, opening and building their business to four stores in the Pennsylvania region.

DUDES
Frank Jr. and Frank Sr. Photos: Martyn Kyle

In the early 1960s, Salem moved to Charlottesville to open Salem M. Eways Oriental Rugs, which his son, Frank Sr., took over in the mid-1970s after Salem passed away. Eventually, all the Eways brothers joined the business, but Frank Jr. had been involved from a very young age.

“I have vague memories of my first rug repair,” he said. “I was young when I used to go to work with my dad. We would travel throughout the states looking for rugs to buy and clean and repair.”

Admittedly, the work of repairing a rug can be tedious (“First, we assess the type of materials used to make the rug. Is it woven with wool, silk, animal hair or cotton? What type of dyes were used: Aniline, Chrome or Vegetal? Is it woven on a wool foundation or silk or cotton? Then we wash the rug to get rid of all contaminants and to make sure the colors are true,” Frank said), but it’s rewarding too.

“I did a repair on an old Persian rug from a local college. The rug had a 10″x10″ inch hole. After reweaving it, they were unable to locate the damaged area. That made me feel very proud to have learned such a wonderful craft from my mentor and father,” he said.

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