Kashou Carpets, a mainstay on Milwaukee’s East Side and one of the oldest oriental rug stores in the country, will close at the end of November after 108 years in business.
It is a decision based on the changing landscape of retail and e-commerce, which has claimed another brick-and-mortar casualty.
“All I can say is, ‘Thank you, Amazon,’” said Robert Kashou, the store’s owner. “The fact of the matter is, we really didn’t want to change. We’ve always been a people-oriented store that gave personal service and sold high-end goods at fair prices.”
Kashou said business began to suffer about four years ago. He has been considering closing for about 18 months. It is not only Amazon, Kashou said, but a whole host of websites including Wayfair.com and Rugs.com, that has made it difficult for a locally owned business to remain sustainable.
“The decision to close was really as much personal as it was business,” he said. “A reflection on the current retail business. The whole shift to online buying would have really changed our business model.”
Kashou Carpets has carried traditional and transitional rugs, carpets and flooring since 1910. Beginning in September, the store will liquidate its inventory. The store has 10 employees, many of whom have worked for the store for many years.
Robert Kashou owns the building at 2169 N. Farwell Ave. in which the store is located.
“The East Side is such an up-and-coming neighborhood right now,” Kashou said. “Since we do own the building, we wanted to get our feelers out for other businesses that will thrive in this location.”