Well versed in both matters, Bruce Gianni much prefers the story of a phoenix rising from the ashes to the fate of the dodo bird, metaphorically speaking.
Gianni and Brent Goodsell co-own Jacobsen Rugs, a fixture for hand-knotted Oriental and area rugs in downtown Syracuse since 1924. As the end of their lease in the Learbury Centre approached this past autumn, they were faced with the daunting task of raising enough capital during a recession to move their business. The numbers didn’t look good, and Gianni and Goodsell made the tough decision to close their store, started by the Jacobsen family 88 years ago.
Then, pleas from the customers began.
“When we announced we were going to close, people were coming in and saying, ‘Please don’t close,’” said Gianni, who has worked for Jacobsen Rugs for 33 years, becoming part of the ownership team in 2002. Goodsell, a 35-year employee, also became an owner in 2002. “Our customers were telling us how they ‘grew up’ on our rugs and how sad they would be if we weren’t around any longer. Of course it made us feel good, and it also gave us the drive to make an attempt at keeping the company going.”
A going-out-of-business sale became a push to pay off debts and generate capital. Space needed to be secured for the new location, and Jacobsen Rugs was able to turn another negative into a positive.
“There are a lot of empty buildings in Syracuse, but we needed one that would fit our needs of highlighting the features of our rugs,” Gianni said. “It had to be large, but it also had to have an inviting look and feel.”
The old Dietz Lantern Factory at 225 Wilkinson St. was the perfect location. Jacobsen Rugs leased 10,000 square feet in the building, and immediately began restoring the space’s original hardwood flooring and exposed beams.