Businessman Manny Shaool retires to California

November 22, 2007|By DAN DEARTH


Although Manny Shaool moved to California earlier this week, the longtime Washington County businessman said he still plans to call Hagerstown home.

Shaool said he will leave his business interests, including Manny's Oriental Rugs & Gallery at 1741 Dual Highway, to his sons Adam, 25, and Sassan, 34.

"Now is the time for me to step down and let younger people run the show," he said. "I'll miss Washington County. I have a lot of friends here. I'm like anyone else when they retire ? I go somewhere warm."


Shaool, 66, said he and his wife, Janet, will visit Hagerstown roughly once a month to visit their sons ? daughters Sasha, 32, and Sarah, 28, already live in California ? and check on the businesses that have thrived since he moved here in the early 1970s.

Shaool said he didn't start out as a businessman. After he immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1962, he said he attended college and earned two engineering degrees.

Shaool said he became an assistant professor in 1968 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, but moved south to Hagerstown in 1973 to start a Persian rug business. His first shop was on Franklin Street across from the post office. He moved the business to Washington Street in the early 1980s, closing that store in 2006 to open the current one on Dual Highway.

Shaool said he wasn't sure why he chose to sell Persian rugs, other than he was familiar with them.

"I just fell into it," he said. "I do real estate, too. How did I fall into that?"

The business has taken off thanks, in part, to Sassan's dreams of expansion, he said. After selling only Persian rugs for several years, Sassan added, among other things, carpet, ceramics and tile to the inventory.

"It's A to Z for your house," Sassan said.

The store has gone from employing five people eight years ago to about 40 today.

Manny said the secret to his success was his decision to move to the United States 45 years ago.

"America is the greatest country in the world," he said. "It will give an equal opportunity to everyone ... I came here with nothing ? no English. I'm so proud to be an American."

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