A Life of Rugs
Selling carpets and textiles “is not my job; it is my life,” said Tony Kitz, owner of the eponymously-named rug shop on Kansas and 16th streets. “It’s not just coming to work every day.”
Growing up in San Francisco Kitz collected antiques. By the time he was sixteen years old he was buying and selling mid-century furniture. Kitz’s interest in carpets was sparked after he started working for a Baktiari rug gallery while attending San Francisco State University, where he earned a degree in business management. Since then he’s become a textile expert, selling exquisite antique carpets to Bay Area designers and collectors.
“I think I know everything about [rugs],” said Kitz, who lives with his partner Susan and their children — Max, 19, Lindsey, 16, and Dane, 11 — in Potrero Hill. “If you show me a rug, I can easily identify it, tell you what it is, where it was made, and how old it is, from about one hundred feet.” he laughed, as he sat comfortably on a sofa in his spacious showroom. “It’s just when you do something for so long you just know what it is…I’ve been doing this business for thirty years, and owned my own gallery for twenty years now.”
Kitz said he didn’t specialize in any particular kind of carpet. “It’s about art and beauty, as opposed to just about rugs,” he said. “It has to do with colors [and] their relationship to other objects, whether it’s classical or contemporary art.” Kitz appreciates that rugs can be harmonized with other intransient objects in the context of where they’re placed. “There are things that stand alone on themselves, but they also do relate to all different kinds of other objects between natural world, the architectural world…and they fit in that context.”
Kitz often travels to New York and Turkey to purchase rugs for the gallery and his clients. There’s always something new to find. “It’s very much like a treasure hunt because you’re always looking for the next beautiful great thing. It’s one of these things that you’re always interested in seeing what’s around the corner...What’s behind that? What’s under that stack? What’s behind that rug in the corner of someone else’s store?”
Kitz takes a collaborative approach to his business. When starting a project, he always confirms that he and his clients are on the same page. “When we have a client who has a certain need,” he said, “we will do everything we have to do to make sure that client is satisfied somehow. That happens almost every time.” He’s grateful to those who let him do what he does best, and takes pride in his clients’ satisfaction with the results.
Kitz wants to sell carpets for the rest of his life. “Let’s say you are a baker your entire life,” he said. “And all of a sudden somebody says, ‘Well, you are not a baker anymore and here you are fifty.’ What am I supposed to do? This is what I know how to do. Am I supposed to become a farmer now? Am I supposed to become an auto mechanic? I don’t know how to do that. You would have to start all over again.” He paused for a moment. “At a certain point you kind of become what your profession is…I am an expert in this field. That’s what I do.”
Tony Kitz Gallery is located at 300 Kansas Street, Suite 101.
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