San Francisco, CA
Khyber Pass is like a mini-department store for home furnishings.
Much of what you see when you first walk into this warehouse-like space has an Asian feel, but the wares are actually imported from a broad swath of the Far and Middle East. If you wander in deeply enough you will soon find a big range of furniture styles, from traditional to contemporary, with a mixture of elm and oak pieces from China, reconditioned reproductions, antiques, and home accessories. The one thing it all has in common is that it's well-priced.
It can take a while to get through this place and to assimilate the array. Look in one direction and you'll see a lavish antique Chinese screen; in another a crystal chandelier. An additional room houses a large selection of rugs, from tribal to contemporary. There are also leather sofas, resin lighting, ceramics, armoires, cupboards. The only category you don't see is bedroom furniture.
Khyber has recently added a skilled design associate named Deborah who will help you pick a rug or console (or whatever you need) to match swatches or photos of your existing furnishings and color choices. She calls this service "helping you figure out the puzzle of your nest."
And just in case you're still not sure, they will allow you to take your object of desire "on approval." This means you can take it home for the night and return it the next day if you decide you don't like it -- as long as you leave a credit card impression. Pretty sweet.
Khyber's rug selection is also vast, and includes traditional tribal Persian styles, Afghani Kazaks in primary colors, Egyptian Khybers (also made in Afghanistan), 100-knot-per-inch Tibetans in some really nice contemporary designs, and trendy leather and wool/silk felted shags. Deborah finds that she can always tell when a customer has finally seen the one they really like and want because their face finally relaxes. The owner (Abdul) adds that he likes to work with the Afghanis because his patronage helps keep people out of the opium trade.
The larger part of Khyber Pass's business is wholesale and trade, but the vast Kansas Street outlet makes the trade discounts available to walk-in customers. This means you get as much as 50% off at all times, and during sales, 70% off. (One is coming up soon: Sept 1-10).
Prices are quite reasonable: for a major piece of furniture like an armoire expect to shell out $350 to $1000; for a rug, $100 to $4000, with an average of $2500, and for leather upholstery $600 to $4000. Accessories like resin lights run from $200 to $900.
We liked this new line of sturdily-constructed, more contemporary Chinese furniture in light oak. These pieces seem slightly more pricey: consoles are $750; hutches $1920.
The store is also currently chock full of generously-scaled leather upholstery that would dwarf a small room, but the quality is good and there are a few more delicate pieces. They hope to bring in some fabric pieces when the leather inventory dwindles.