INNOVATION FLOWS FROM EVERY CORNER OF THIS CARPET EMPORIUM’S SPRAWLING MONMOUTH COUNTY SHOWROOM
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
A new company owner would be hard pressed to find a consultant or successful entrepreneur who doesn’t tout the importance of a comprehensive business plan, one that details formal goals and the methods for achieving them.
But Jacob and Freda Hanono, owners of the Little Silver carpet emporium, Weinstein by Stark, never followed
conventional wisdom when they were growing their business. Nonetheless, in the past 17 years, they’ve been able to quintuple the size of their showroom, expand the business to Brooklyn, and bolster a partnership with the number-one luxury carpet trade partner in the world. “This business has been so good to us, and honestly, it’s led us,” explained Freda, who, with her husband, purchased the store in 2003.
The company’s roots run deep in the Monmouth County town. In 1957, it was founded under the name Weinstein Carpet and Flooring by Little Silver residents Bunny and Lou Weinstein. Though the small storefront could be hard to find (it was hidden behind a Mercedes dealership on a short avenue), it soon became a fixture in the borough. If town residents needed a carpet or rug, Freda Hanono recalled, it was the place to go. Then one day in the early aughts, the Hanonos heard the Weinsteins were interested in selling, and they jumped at the opportunity. As longtime family friends and customers, they were well aware of the legacy the owners had built and vowed to maintain the same values of integrity, honesty, and expertise.
“Everybody loved and respected the Weinsteins,” said Freda. “It was important to carry that over—to keep the same warm personal atmosphere. Even as the business got bigger, we kept that same feeling. We have always been more about building relationships than making a profit.”
The business had been operating out of a 1,500-square-foot space. A year after the Hanonos bought it, they acquired the storefront next door and doubled the size of the showroom. As the business grew, they brought aboard Lisa Shamula, a former Manhattanite with deep retail experience, to help with the growing foot traffic. At this point, their roster of clients had spread far beyond the town lines of Little Silver; customers were coming from Brooklyn brownstones and Manhattan synagogues and houses along the New Jersey and Florida coasts. Today, the store even has clients in Southern California.
Custom carpets have become a huge portion of the business, and the team encourages clients to get creative. A carpet tied to a favorite painting? Some wild wallpaper? Inside the showroom walls, there are no rules.
“Our passion and expertise is carpet,” said Freda. “The custom rugs can really be anything you can dream up. We listen and give the right advice based on lifestyle and budget, and strive to become someone they can count on. And our clients get it; they might come in and say they don’t love carpet, but trust us, they leave loving carpet,” she added with a laugh.
The next big move came in 2013, when the company’s flourishing popularity in Brooklyn led the owners to open an outpost in the borough.
“About 50 percent of our clientele is in New York, so Brooklyn was a natural progression,” Freda said. “As we started to service the New York City customer, we would go house to house, and over time just couldn’t sustain it anymore. We couldn’t bring enough samples in our cars.”
Six years later, the business had ballooned to far beyond what the 3,000-square-foot showroom could hold. “We were busting out of the store,” the owner recalled. The team decided they needed to move to a bigger location, and soon found a massive 8,000-square-foot space a few avenues away from the store. It had been unoccupied for two decades.
“It was like it was just sitting there, waiting for us. Once we moved in, we were finally able to carry everything that we’ve always dreamed of,” said Freda.
Then something remarkable happened. Stark Carpet, the world’s largest design industry partner for luxury carpeting projects, caught wind of Weinstein’s move to the new showroom, and requested a meeting.
“We’ve always admired Stark,” said Freda. “They are world-renowned and have always been our role model. When we met with them, we found that our ethics aligned perfectly. We agreed that honesty, integrity, and the customer’s peace of mind should be the end goal. It was a match made in heaven. Because of our partnership, we have the ability to bring the finest carpets in the world to our state. We’ve always offered custom products, but Stark has brought our custom services to an entirely different level.”
The companies immediately decided to combine forces. Rebranded as Weinstein by Stark, the Little Silver carpet boutique stepped onto the stage as the only Stark showroom in the Garden State. Today, its showroom is a smorgasbord of colors, textures, and cultures, featuring carpets and rugs from nearly every pocket of the globe, from Morocco to Greece, Israel to Nepal. Customers can browse floor décor made of silk, linen, or bamboo; there are exotic carpets, indoor/outdoor rugs, and a sprawling hand-knotted collection the team is particularly proud to display.
“The hand-knotted rugs are incredible,” said Freda. “They are made by one or two people, literally knotting 100 knots per inch on a carpet. It’s such an amazing thing to watch—the makers are so skilled. When you walk into the store, the first thing you see is a platform of hand-knotted rugs. The styles that are available are so diverse, from traditional to contemporary to ultra-modern.”
Though comfortably settled into the massive new showroom with an industry dignitary attached to their name, the team still operates like an intimate boutique.
“We are such a connected team, and we all have our strengths,” Freda said. “Jacob is the brains of the business. Maggie is our new salesperson, and she’s mega-talented. Dara is so much more than a bookkeeper—she’s our go-to person for practically everything. Lisa is an expert at choosing carpet for designers and customers. It’s incredible–99 times out of 100, the first carpet she chooses for you is the right one.”
When asked what’s next on the horizon, the owner responded with a laugh.
“Honestly, we let the business lead us to each next step. We are so grateful for everything we have achieved thus far, and are excited and ready for what’s to come.”
Weinstein by Stark
531 Prospect Avenue / 732.741.0091 / weinsteinflooring.com