At Foster’s Rug Gallery, a father and son share their passions for rug design
By Olivia McClure
Before Michael Foster broke into the rug business, he was involved in rotogravure — a high-impression printing process used to make magazines. But when the arrival of computers during the 1980s rendered his job obsolete, he and a friend decided to dabble in rug sales.What once began as a small rug collection has grown into a burgeoning business, which boasts world-class brands, including Oriental Weavers and Karastan.“If you don’t have enough rug, if you don’t have a collection of rugs, you don’t have rugs,” Foster says. “So, I guess that’s really where it starts. I started with a small group of rugs and continued to add to that group of rugs just daily, really. I’m still doing it. The joke is I always need to buy two more rugs.”

For Foster’s son, Michael, his involvement in his father’s business came as a surprise, yet his enthusiasm for the trade is palpable. Foster says it’s the fast-changing world of rug design that particularly excites him.

“One thing is that [over] the past five years, the whole rug industry has changed a lot,” Foster says. “They’ve come out with new techniques [with] what they can do to rugs. They’ve come out with new styles and fashions to where it’s very more fashion forward as opposed to your grandma’s traditional rug.”

Unsurprisingly, purchasing rugs over the internet can be challenging. According to the younger Foster, rugs are the second most returned online item. So, to help homeowners during the rug selection process, Foster’s goes the extra mile to ensure buyers make the right choice. By bringing options to the space the rugs will be displayed, they are able to help homeowners get exactly what they need instead of buying blind.

“We also do something unique to us where, if you see a couple of rugs that you like that are in the store or online, we can match to similar rugs or bring the rugs that you see in the store and bring them to your house and lay them down,” Foster says. “That helps visualize better the whole space and seeing the colors in your house and everything.”

For the elder Foster, the ever-changing rug industry has become a lifelong labor of love — and it’s one he has no intention of giving up anytime soon.

“I’m blessed in the fact that I love what I do … and I don’t have any desire to quit doing it,” Foster says. “Rugs today can have two to three hundred colors in a rug, and that’s due to technology. So, what got me booted out of the first job has helped me with this job, because rugs today are so much more attractive than what they were 25 years ago, even ten years ago.”

Foster’s Rug Gallery
463 S. Water Street, Gallatin