Since 1912, Rug Masters has been the go-to for Oriental rugs


When a customer walks through rug masters, they’re first greeted by Cookie and Clover—a poodle and Pomeranian. They are the friendly “greeters” of the family-run business and have made it into reviews for the one-stop tapestry store. While cute, it’s also telling of how things are done here.

“Customers are often concerned they’re going to walk into an old-world, high-pressure rug salesman situation,” says owner Kurt Kammeyer. “But at Rug Masters, we’re casual, normal human beings who live in Charleston and care.”

More than a century of tradition is woven into Rug Masters, a fourth-generation family-owned business that has become known as an expert on high-end rugs in the Lowcountry.

Kammeyer’s great-grandfather first opened the doors to Rug Masters back in 1912 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He took his eldest son, Edward Shogry, under his wing to learn the trade; Shogry then moved the business to Charleston in 1951. In the new city, the business was one of the smaller choices for residents to purchase and care for their rugs. Now, Rug Masters is arguably the second-largest rug store in the Southeast.

When he wasn’t at home or school, Kammeyer was at the store. He started in the backroom cleaning rugs, then moved up front to assist his grandfather with repairs. The day after Kammeyer graduated from Wingate University in Charlotte, North Carolina, he went back to Rug Masters to work full time. He took the helm as the fourth-generation owner when his father, John Kammeyer, passed away in August 2021, and today he works alongside his mother, Vicki.

“This is the job that I’ve been doing my whole entire life,” Kammeyer says. “It’s what I know; it’s what I’m good at.”

Kammeyer’s leadership has brought a careful balance of tradition and modernity. The store has made technological upgrades each year—Rug Masters went green with the installation of solar panels in January—but that has not replaced good old-fashioned elbow grease. That includes doing everything in-house. With more than a century of expertise, the business has longtime staff members who are experts in cleaning, repairs and even design. Rug Masters has also built respected relationships with makers and vendors around the world to bring its customers top-of-the-line pieces from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, and occasionally rare rugs from Iran. Just give the team a floor plan, the requested size and a small piece of inspirational fabric, and they’ll find a rug that fits the bill.

“Our rugs have been in so many homes in so many different places,” Kammeyer says. “There isn’t much you can throw at us that we haven’t seen.”

The most common repairs made to rugs are when the fringe starts to wear out or when the sides are fraying. Rug Masters is able to re-overcast the stitches to bring a rug back to its former glory or reweave areas that have been worn down, as well as employ an arsenal of stain removers for spills or pet accidents.

One particularly tough case stands out to Kammeyer. A customer had a 100-year-old rug that was beyond repair. With its connections, Rug Masters was able to send the piece to Pakistan where it was scanned, color-matched and rewoven to its original form.

Oriental rugs should be cleaned every 18 months to five years, depending on how much wear and tear they get in the home. Between cleanings, Kammeyer suggests hanging up the high-suction vacuum; when a vacuum is being used, run it parallel to the fringe to protect the weave.

Longevity comes with a business as old as Rug Masters, and that includes the relationships it fosters with its customers. Kammeyer says they’re not in it for the single sales but to be a place where customers can return when they need cleaning done or repairs and for future purchases. As fast fashion and home décor seem to be the norm, there are those who want to buck trends and fads and instead find a beautiful rug that will last a lifetime.

“At some point in time, it dawns on people that they’re tired of having to replace something every few years, and that’s where we come in,” Kammeyer says. “Our product isn’t something that is meant to be replaced every four or five years. It’s meant to be something that you want to purchase, you feel confident that you bought something of quality that’s going to last, and you can enjoy it for years to come.”

No matter the reason a customer walks into Rug Masters—repairs, cleaning or to purchase a new masterpiece—the team is prepared to greet them with a smile and years of expertise. That includes Cookie and Clover.

“We’re all in it for the long run,” Kammeyer says. “This business is something that I’ve loved ever since I was a little kid, and it’s always made sense to me.” *

Christiana Lilly is a freelance journalist in Pompano Beach, Florida. See more of her work spanning the arts, community news and social justice at

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