Martin Jennings III, 68: Owner of Buckhead rug shop

For Martin Jennings, a rug was more than something that covered a floor, it was part of the room’s decor.

And for the better part of 35 years when Atlantans wanted an original rug, Jennings was the man to see, his daughter said.

“If you needed a rug, you went to the 79th Street Rug Shop in Buckhead, his shop,” said Jena Young, of Atlanta. “And then in 2008, he closed that shop and opened Barrier Island Collection, where he did custom designs.”

Jennings had a knack for knowing exactly what size rug “would fit comfortably in a room,” his daughter said.

“He loved the art and detail of the rug business,” said Steve Young, Jennings’ son-in-law. “And above all, he loved life.”

Martin Jennings III of Atlanta died Friday. He was 68. A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Tuesday at H.M. Patterson & Son, Arlington Chapel, Sandy Springs, which is also in charge of arrangements.

At the time of his death, Jennings was still owner and operator of Barrier Island Collection, his daughter said.

Jennings, a native of Hickory, N.C., had a dream of living in Manhattan, N.Y., Young said of her father. After he graduated from North Carolina State University, he moved to New York and ended up in the carpet business, she said.

“So when he came here and named his first shop 79th Street Rug Shop, that was a nod to Manhattan,” she said. “His first job was rug design, but when he came to Atlanta, he liked to go to antique stores and find Oriental rugs. He had a real eye for the rugs.”

Not only could Jennings spot a good rug, he knew the mechanics of the rug, Steve Young said.

“He knew what it took to design and make the rugs,” his son-in-law said.

Jena Young said her father spent much of his life learning about rugs, and he gladly passed that knowledge on to his customers. And many of those customers became friends, she said.

“He was a constant entertainer,” she said. “He welcomed people at the shop, and many would stay around with him after hours and just hang out with him.”

It wasn’t just rugs that excited Jennings, he also had a certain fondness for sweaters, particularly the fisherman sweater, his daughter said.

“He was so excited the fisherman sweater was back,” Young said, with a laugh. “And he was trying to figure out which one to buy. He was just so much fun.”

In addition to his daughter, Jennings is survived by his wife of 37 years, Kathy Teague Jennings of Atlanta; and two grandchildren.