The call came in to the rug store at 10:30 on Wednesday morning: After five days in U.S. customs, the first batch of carpets imported from Iran were ready for pickup.
Years of waiting finally ended for Alex Helmi, owner of Damoka, a Persian rug store in Westwood. He quickly gathered his employees and told them to drive to Los Angeles International Airport to pick up the shipment: 40 handmade rugs — some antique, some modern — valued at about $500,000.
"I wanted to cry," Helmi said.
Helmi has been selling Persian rugs for decades, but this marked the first time he was getting merchandise directly from Iran since the U.S. imposed an embargo on the...