February 18, 2013 | Back to: Business

Magic Carpet flying again


Though they may not fly, customers can still get a cultural, woven work of art with the grand reopening of The Magic Carpet in downtown Nevada City.

After the near end of a longtime business in Nevada City, Paul and Eileen Jorgenson decided to keep the venture open with the addition of new management by rug enthusiasts Peter Cohen and Carolien van Straten after the Jorgensons decided to retire.

“It’s a win-win that this grand tradition is carrying on,” said Paul Jorgenson, who was originally a building contractor, opened the store with a business partner in 1980 and took it over in 1986. “I can’t say how happy we have been that we aren’t going to have to close down.”

The business move took a series of months, Cohen said, but the final result is one he is excited about.

“We started talking about it probably six months ago, but we weren’t sure it would actually occur,” Cohen said. “We finalized our agreement in the last month or so and announced it as soon as we were clear that was the right thing to do. It was a moving target, but here we are, and I’m very excited.”

Though the couple has retired, the Jorgensons still play a part in store operations.

“We will still be involved in the buying, consulting, doing appraisals and overseeing the washing and repair,” Paul Jorgenson said.

The Jorgensons have known Cohen for many years after he one day entered The Magic Carpet in 1991 and took a liking to the store.

“That’s the beauty of the whole thing. It’s a family-run business and an integral part of Nevada City. To have it carry on with enthusiastic family with youthful energy and new ideas is wonderful. We’re not disappearing,” Paul Jorgenson said, adding with a note sarcasm, “We have the hard task of traveling around the world and finding ethnic artifacts.”

The Jorgensons met when they lived next to each other, and Paul introduced the rugs to Eileen, who performs Middle Eastern dances.

“He introduced me to these beautiful things that have been such a source of wonder and joy,” said Eileen Jorgenson. “We bought rugs and went on rug shows together.”

The rugs are not only for aesthetics but functionality, Paul Jorgenson said.

“It is one of the oldest art forms and is very useful because it’s utilitarian and art. We call it art-under-foot,” Paul Jorgenson said.

His love for art came from a trip to India he took in 1980, one in which his sister-in-law asked him to purchase a rug for her.

“We went into a rug shop, and I became fascinated by it,” Paul Jorgenson said. “I bought one, my mom bought one, and I got one for my sister-in-law. I traveled all over India to try to find beautiful rugs.”

While many businesses may focus solely on making a profit, the management team at The Magic Carpet seeks to support cultural survival and to educate the public.

The Magic Carpet will host a sale of 25 percent off all rugs, statues, pillows and textiles and 10 percent off rug-washing services until May 1 with part of every purchase going toward Barakat, a cultural survival program.

“We are really focused on a cultural survival project about supporting community of weavers so they develop with health care and their needs,” Paul Jorgenson said. “They have opened eight different schools, 32 literacy schools and water projects.”

The store has also brought in weavers from Turkey to host workshops and teach about the art of weaving among the 40 to 50 events the store has offered to the public.

“Nevada City Elementary at the time came and watched weaving and tied knots,” Eileen Jorgenson said. “You can’t really appreciate the culture until you get to know how the carpets are made.”

The transfer between maker and purchaser is one of the unique aspects of the carpets, Cohen said.

“It’s amazing. Each rug has its own story. A person spent weeks and months on any particular rug, and each knot has been hand-stitched by someone somewhere, and just looking at the patterns and how old they are, it’s just fascinating and connects me to foreign cultures, to stories worldwide, so I just find them amazing works of art,” Cohen said. “I feel blessed, and it’s really an honor to have this opportunity and to offer these rugs to the community.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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The Union Updated Feb 18, 2013 07:52AM Published Mar 5, 2013 12:50AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.