IF YOU BUILD IT, HE WILL COME

BY RICK VILLA | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS


Like the whispers heard by Ray Kinsella in the now iconic baseball movie Field of Dreams, Ben Shabahang of Empire Rugs in Southlake also heard that call. But unlike Kinsella, Shabahang didn’t plow over corn fields. Instead he set his sight on Texas and built Empire Rugs.

Shabahang explains that the movie left a real impression on him as a child. It was that whisper, “If you build it, he will come,” that drove him to not just open his store but to provide his clients with a type of service others thought impossible.

“As a third generation rug merchant I am extremely passionate about this business and delivering first-class service to my clients. I strive to develop client relationships and not simply make a sale to customers. I am not judgmental and do not price my rugs based on appearance and wealth, I treat my clients equally by delivering services to meet their taste and satisfaction,” Shabahang says. “A client is here for a lifetime. That is what I strive for. Through my personal designs and looms I am able to execute that goal by making my client’s vision come to life or fruition.”

Shabahang explains that to be true to his concept and ultimately to his clients, he operates as a wholesaler. “I am a true believer in the triangle,” Shabahang says. “There is the weaver, me and the client. That is my ultimate focus. With no middleman involved I am able to run a competitive operation, offering wholesale prices not just to interior designers but to my clients as well.”

Shabahang achieved this by not only making deals directly with manufactures but by buying his own looms in Pakistan and India. He currently owns approximately 90 looms and employs roughly 200 weavers. This gives him the competitive edge, offering a wide selection of handmade rugs at low prices as well as creating a large number of custom orders for clients. Shabahang is involved in the design, development and production of his own rugs offered in his Southlake showroom.

His devotion to his belief system didn’t stop with lowering prices. Shabahang explains that when he heard that hand-tufted rugs emit toxic odors and could be potentially harmful to families, he stopped carrying them in his stores. “You cannot keep that stuff around if it is going to harm people. Children and pets play on the floor,” Shabahang says.


A driving force in Shabahang’s life and the reason he makes the decisions he does in his business is his strong belief in karma. “We should do what is right for one another,” he says.

“I didn’t choose the rug life, the rug life chose me,” Shabahang says with a laugh. He is not just a man with a sense of humor, but also one of tradition and family values. A third generation rug dealer, he offers a lifetime of knowledge, experience and passion to the benefit of each of his clients.

“I truly enjoy decorating my clients’ homes and making their homes even more beautiful and homier with beautiful rugs throughout. I guess you can call me your rug decorator,” jokes Shabahang.

In addition to the high standards and quality of product that Empire Rugs offers, the company also provides numerous services, including hand cleaning, repair, restoration and certified appraisals.

With all that’s offered it is easy to see why Shabahang’s gallery on the prestigious East Southlake Boulevard has become one of the most trusted in Dallas. A quick Google search shows numerous reviews and 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Shabahang’s life started in Esfahan, Iran, then it led him to Paris and then to Wisconsin, where the company was established. Somewhere along the way, a classic American film left an undeniable mark on him, and now, because of it, Dallas families have a trusted advisor they can turn to. Shoeless Joe would be proud.

Rick Villa is a freelance writer based in Dallas, TX. He can be reached at rvilla19@gmail.com.