Roy Maloumian, longtime Chestnut Hill resident, owner of Maloumian Oriental Rugs and booster of the local business community whose name was virtually synonymous with the highest-quality Oriental carpets, has died of cancer at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, at age 80.
“Our family has been in the Oriental rug business for 97 years,” said Roy's son, Hadji Maloumian, an attorney who works with his brother, Hunter, in the family business, now located at 231 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave. in West Mt. Airy. “Our dad was the third generation in the business, and we are the fourth. Our dad's grandfather, whose family members were all survivors of the Armenian genocide, started the business in Philadelphia in 1927, and my dad's father took over in 1942. In 2026, we will have a big 100-year celebration.”
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1915 and 1916, during World War 1, at least 665,000 and possibly as many as 1.2 million Armenian Christians, out of a total population of 1.5 million, were killed by Muslim Ottoman Turks in what historians have called “the first genocide of the 20 century.”
Many survivors, including the Maloumian family, came to the U.S. with almost no belongings. “It's not something we often talked about,” Hadji said, “but we always celebrated Armenian Remembrance Day.”
“People will remember my dad as a businessman who always supported other businesses in Chestnut Hill, but he was so much more than that,” said Hadji, the family’s designated spokesperson whose wife, Claudia Vargas, was a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and is now an investigative reporter at WCAU-NBC TV-10.
“My dad had a huge heart. He loved to laugh, and was always cheerful, happy and warm. I will remember that forever. He may have had a bad day, but you'd never know it. People in the area know he was a businessman, but he was also a caring father, husband and citizen. He was not a 'laissez-faire' dad, but he was certainly not a drill sergeant, either. He was in between. We had a great childhood and family environment.”
After college, Maloumian worked for an insurance company in New York for several years but left in the 1960s to join the family rug business. He took control in the 1990s. At various times, he had retail stores in Center City, Haverford and several in Northwest Philadelphia. In 1981, he was quoted by The Inquirer saying that his company was “the largest importer, retailer and servicer of Oriental rugs in the United States.”
Maloumian grew up in Germantown and graduated from Germantown High School, earned a degree in business at La Salle University and a master’s degree in business administration at Temple University. Roy's older brother, Richard, and their father, Menas, transformed their local business into an international behemoth that eventually had 15 stores in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Arizona, and entered into pioneering production agreements in the 1980s with carpet manufacturers in China.
“My parents lived in Chestnut Hill for more than 30 years,” Hadji said. “We grew up here and loved it. It's an incredible community. Dad had a store long ago near where Staples is now, also one where Bredenbeck's is now, one where the Italian Oven was (a chain that went bankrupt in 2013), one where Dobbins Carpet Cleaning took over (8219 Germantown Ave.) and a satellite showroom where Mango took over (8622 Germantown Ave.).
“The last one in Chestnut Hill closed in 2002. The Mt. Airy showroom on Mt. Pleasant Avenue, which opened in the late 1980s, is still open for sales and restoration, pick up and delivery. It gave my dad great pleasure to clean rugs that his grandfather sold many decades ago. He loved the idea that they had come full circle.”
Maloumian told the Local several years ago that he provided antique rugs for the office of former Mayor and Chestnut Hill resident, Bill Green. He told us that he contracted with the U.S. State Department to supply rugs for American embassies in China, South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
According to Jason Conway, manager of the Maloumian Mt. Airy showroom, Roy's sons, Maloumian and his wife, Carrie Mason Thomas, were also involved in many causes, civic activities, Chambers of Commerce, the Chestnut Hill business community and local arts and cultural institutions. “And he mentored young entrepreneurs,” Hadji said.
Maloumian was also a member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America and drove his own restored cars in competitive races. “He was an absolute car nut,” Hadji said. “It was a passion and a hobby. He always had one or two vintage classic cars, and unlike some other classic car owners, he actually drove them and after a couple of years would trade one in and get a new one.”
In addition to his wife, sons and brother, Maloumian is survived by a granddaughter and other relatives. Donations in his name may be made to the Armenian Sisters Academy, 440 Upper Gulph Rd., Radnor, PA 19087.
Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org