By Samuel J. Burch
Hampton Union, September 30, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — His rugs come from weaving nations all over the world; some as far as Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet and Turkey. His store houses the largest selection of new and antique rugs in the state, “and we have to get rid of all of them,” he chuckles.
Since 2010, Menashe Cohen and his store Epic Oriental Rugs have called Hampton home, but after nearly 30 years in the business, he’s rolling out the carpet for the last time.
Cohen was born and raised in Israel. He arrived in America in the late ’70s and traveled the east coast until settling in New Hampshire. In 1986 Menashe and his father Moshe started the carpet dealing business called Cohen & Son; however, his family’s legacy was long rooted in oriental rugs.
“My Grandmother,” Cohen said when asked about family in the industry. “Bless her soul. She was born in Iran in 1886 and started weaving at around six years old.”
By age 14, Cohen’s grandmother managed her own workshop and could produce the popular Kashan design from memory alone.
After his father passed away in 2005, Cohen sold the company based out of Keene and retired. However, a botched agreement left his remaining inventory unsold. Cohen then brought his carpets to Hampton, choosing the central Seacoast town to “draw customers from Massachusetts and Maine (in addition to New Hampshire).”
When Cohen began working with rugs he could not afford to hire employees. He had to move each rug himself, some weighing almost 300 pounds. Since then he has hired “dozens of people, sold and serviced thousands of rugs,” and even given lectures on oriental weaving, dyes and designs.
But after 30 years, Cohen explained that now felt right to retire, “I hit the magical number 61,” he jokes.
“I figure whatever years I have left I want to live a quality life and not work seven days a week. But I will greatly miss working with oriental rugs; servicing them, re-weaving them, and all my wonderful clients I met throughout the years.”
However, the end of his business does not mean the end of his stay in the Seacoast, “I love the Hampton community and I plan on staying here.”