PUBLISHER'S FORUM
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JOE TATULLI

WMC is Changing the Furniture World as We Know It

So Much to Cover

And it’s my pleasure to tell you that Futon Life will soon be covering even more.

Right alongside the latest news about futon sofa sleepers, our editorial content will expand to include bedroom furniture. Yes, it sounds like a natural evolution to us, too. Our expansion is a logical parallel to what’s happening in the industry and a well-timed response to many conversations we’ve all had at our respective water coolers.

The bold decision by agile consumers to make their homes integral and integrated lifestyle hubs is changing what, where, why and who they buy. The counter movement at retail reflects this as stores diversify to include bedroom furniture selections that showcase magnetic combinations of practicality and panache.

We’ve heard from you. Both manufacturers and retailers say that the bedroom furniture category (including futon sofa sleepers, platform beds, case goods and top of the bed fashion) is a rising star, and the informed consumer is shopping.

Our manufacturer/advertisers and our retailer/readers will see us, editorially speaking, at the forefront of this notable movement.

Futon Life’s new name will be officially unveiled on the cover of the October High Point Market issue. Our goal is to enlighten and enrich bedroom furniture manufacturers and retailers by defining, analyzing and advocating the bedroom furniture category.

We want to work with you to present this category as a high value to consumers who prefer and expect ingenious, versatile bedroom furniture designed, manufactured and sold to enhance their lifestyles.

So much to cover. We’re on it. Thanks for reading.

Survey Hits Home with the Press

In the expanded magazine, we will continue to present our own exclusive surveys every quarter (or even more often if necessary) that will help spot trends and give you some hard numbers you can take to the bank or incorporate into your marketing and advertising plans.

On that note, let me crow about some super publicity we’ve recently received. Two major media outlets wrote about the data we gathered in our 2004 Retailer Survey. The first write up was in Bed Times, ISPA’s member journal (March 2005), and the second was in the nation’s leading business daily, the Wall Street Journal (March 31, 2005). These pick-ups confirm our belief that our advocacy for the industry is based on sound business practices and that our work is doing good things for the entire category.

Show Within a Show

The Futon Association will be holding its annual business meeting by phone this year on June 29th. In the past, this business meeting was held at the annual show, but since those days are gone, this new system was put in place. I am not sure how many members will take the time to call in and make their voices heard. My inclination would be not many, but I hope I’m wrong.

This will all be history by the time you read this in Las Vegas, so be sure to stop by the Futon Expo & Specialty Sleep Show space in the World Market Center Pavilion (P 6601) and get all the latest news from FAI.

From conversations I have had, it sounds like there is still some interest in maintaining the footprint the association gives the futon industry, and the success of the show within a show at this market (WMC Summer 2005) will be a defining moment. I congratulate the board on their efforts to make this show a successful one for the category.

Letter to the Editor

I got a very nice letter from Larry Karel back in May. He did express his disagreement with my comments about the future of regional shows. He characterized those comments as negative (you can read his entire letter here).

Here is what I said about the future of regional shows: Every other (futon) market will have to duke it out for the remaining scraps. Ultimately, only three or four mega markets (perhaps only one or two) will thrive and survive. The smaller regional markets will get even smaller and some will just disappear. The expense of running, exhibiting at and attending these marginal markets is just not cost effective.

First of all, this is only my opinion, not a prediction. Anything can happen. I would also not define any of Larry Karel's shows as “regional.” The Karel shows, for the most part, move in and out of existing convention space, unlike the regional shows in San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, Tupelo, etc., where buildings were constructed for the express purpose of use as futons markets.

Today’s tough business climate is pushing us all to the limits. Only those who find ways to do whatever they do faster, cheaper and better will survive. If that’s news to anyone reading this, then brace yourself.

This Issue

Becky Miller spoke to every major futon mattress manufacturer on the planet (maybe the entire universe) and has put together a comprehensive look at the category from several different and intriguing angles. She also reports on a super luxury Hong Kong hotel where you can spend upwards of $1,000.00 a night to luxuriate on a custom-made futon mattress at an exceptionally swanky joint. Now that’s pushing the price point envelope.

Laurie Converse takes a look at the “tween” and “teen” markets. This insightful article features key market data, interviews and helpful advice so you can be ready at your store to capitalize on this exploding futon market.

Dave Garretson looks into those dreaded words we sometimes hear when we answer our business phone calls.

Tim Jacobs continues his chronicle of the regulatory issues facing the home furnishings industry with closer focus on the new CA TB 604 bedclothes regulations.

Mayor Laffey Update

The saga continues. Well, it happened–the state Board of Elections got Laffey kicked off the airwaves.

Not one to go away quietly, the mayor filed suit in Federal Court claiming his First Amendment right to freedom of speech had been abridged. Hundreds of other mayors and public officials have radio shows all across the country, so why couldn't he?
“In a scene reminiscent of the old Soviet Politburo, the powerful political bosses have censored my ability to tell the citizens of Rhode Island what’s going on,” Laffey said.
Reporters asked if the ruling surprised him. “Of course I’m totally surprised. I live in America. I’m shocked, and I never stop being shocked at the lengths people will go to shut me up,” Laffey said.

Laffey got his day in court (actually several, including Federal Appellate Court, where Federal Appellate judge Bruce M. Selya said with a smile that the board’s case was a sinking ship that was about to go down, and that this was a clear cut violation of Laffey’s first amendment rights) where his team presented a winning argument.

His radio talk show (The Steve Laffey Show) was reinstated on June 17 and the celebration of free speech continues.

All good fallout for politics, the pundits say, as the Laffey case may redefine–by law–what candidate, politician and statesman really mean. The moral of the story for me (and the futon industry) is if you keep the word going out, believe in what you are doing, and persevere through difficulty, the truth will win in the end. Let’s all keep fighting; it’s tough out there.

FL

 
 
 
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