The Life of an Honest Salesman

Oscar Wilde once said, “The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.” It was probably easy for Wilde to jot down that witty sentence with a flick of his vibrant pen; easy because decades did not allow him the pleasure of meeting Saeed Aslam. Saeed has stories and knowledge as rich as the beautiful carpets he sells. Alyshann means magnificent, beautiful, a quality to a royal degree, Saeed explained and not able to resist the playfully plug he added, “If you want to feel like royalty, buy a rug from us.” Sales did not always come so naturally to Saeed. He was only 19-years-old when he came to America in 1979 to study at a university. His family, though they had a thriving rug company started by Saeed’s father in Pakistan, could not send him any money because Pakistan’s government did not allow their money to be transferred into American currency. So his family sent him rugs instead. “I was a 19-year-old boy. I was more interested in girls and cars than rugs.” Saeed said. He admitted that, “In the beginning, I had no love or appreciation for them…but the more I learned about them the more I fell in love with them.” These rugs were Saeed’s ticket to success; his rent, lunch-money, tuition and survival resided in the brightly woven wool of these tapestries. He had to sell them and he eventually did. After he sold his first rug he remembers feeling, “So happy I couldn’t see straight.”

Due to his own study and through the help of different mentors, Saeed soon gleaned more and more knowledge. “The best thing I learned, I learned from people. It took many years just to get a basic handle on the rugs.” And yet Saeed muses, “After 32 years, I just know… how little I know.” As time has ticked on, Saeed has sold many, many rugs, met all types of people and tucked away dozens of stories. One of his favorite memories of a sale was regarding a Qum, Persian silk that cost $350,000. It was a very large rug; in fact at 11-feet by 22-feet it was too large for the second level of the great room that it was chosen for, by about a foot. The woman that was looking at it had fallen in love with the rug but Saeed hadn’t yet realized the depth of her affections. Saeed was in the process of having the rug rolled up and put away when the woman protested that she wanted it. Saeed gently explained to her that it wouldn’t fit, but to his surprise she declared, “No, I want the rug… I’ll bring the floor up.” She did indeed purchase the rug and proceeded to literally rebuild the room to fit around it. Another of his favorite stories involves a woman who came to him wanting to sell her rugs so that she could buy a used car. She explained to him that she had never placed her rugs on her floor, they had always been rolled up and put away because she had never owned a nice enough house to merit unrolling them. After viewing the rugs, Saeed realized that she was going to be able to buy a lot more than a very nice car; They were worth $140,000 at whole sale price. Saeed paid her the fair amount for the rugs and she was able to not only buy a car, but also her own land with a trailer on it. “She was the happiest woman in the world and I had some part in it.” Saeed contently explained.

Time has ticked by, Saeed has now been retired for a few years; handing the reins of the Scottsdale store to his son Sameer who decided, after 7-years of working with his father, to become the third generation of Aslams to be in the rug business. He is thrilled to be able to watch his son, exceeding the family standards and the mission of the store. When talking about Alyshaan’s customers Saeed said, “The biggest thing is that we want them to never feel pressured…You get a good value everyday of the week and there is a lot of integrity and honesty and common comfort.” Saeed says he has never forgotten some of the best advice that he received from his mentors, “To grow slowly, to take it easy don’t do too much too fast. There is a lot of misrepresentation in this industry but if you truly believe in yourself and the in the product, you don’t have to misrepresent it to sell it.” Saeed has resided in Arizona since 2001 and isn’t considering leaving any time soon. In his lifetime he has lived on 3 different continents: Europe, Asia and North America and he declared, “I love living in Arizona. I love living in this country…this is the best place on earth.” Though he has passed the baton on, Saeed still retains a presence at the rug shop surrounded by the rugs he loves, staying busy in his office with his work in a non-profit that he started. He said that he has everything he needs at Alyshaan, a tea room, his office and people he enjoys being around; he assures that he is usually nearby to help out on the floor if needed as well. “I am here. I am like an antique feature, like a grandfather clock.”

By Stephanie Drescher

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