THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
by Dave Garretson
Things We Hate to Hear
Do some words create panic for you? What puts a knot in your stomach? If you sell futons, I'll bet these are some of the things you hate to hear.
Welcome for the weekend! You’re sleeping on the futon!
Yes, you’re happy to be there for the weekend. Yes, you’re in the futon business. And yes, that’s why you dread sleeping on the futon. You know it’s not a great futon like the ones you sell. It’s probably a piece-o-crap your hosts paid next to nothing for. A thin pad with metal rods underneath…it’s the kind of futon that makes you yearn for one of those old sleeper sofas. Even the old bar under your back felt better than this! Grin and bear it. You can go home and sleep on a good futon after the weekend. At least you know that your friends meant well, unless they go on to add:
Since you’re in the futon business, we assumed you’d prefer it.
Now it’s more than misplaced hospitality. This is a dare! Obviously, this thing is so horribly uncomfortable that nobody can sleep on it. If you think futons are so great, they’re saying, prove it. Show us you can last even one night on this thing.
Why are your futons so expensive?
I don’t know how much people expect to pay for a futon, but clearly they expect to pay LESS. Futons popped onto the scene 20 years ago as furniture in the apartments of college students. Cheap, cheap, cheap, and we still haven’t shaken that image, even though, ironically, futons cost less now than they did back then. Here’s a further irony. We also furnished our places with milk crates, which now cost more! Back then, we’d pick them up from behind supermarkets for free. Today those retailers are smarter…they sell plastic crates to us inside the store.
Hello. I bought a futon from you three weeks ago…
The words you dread. Take a deep breath now. What's coming next? A complaint? An impossible-to-resolve problem? Or perhaps a simple question? Or a compliment? This is the longest three seconds of any conversation with a customer.
Order? What order?
This is how the factory responds when you’ve got an impatient customer who is about to cancel a roomful of furniture because one item still hasn't arrived.
My futon is missing one of those little metal things.
You know, the little round thing that goes into the other thing. You’ve got one of those, right? They lost it when they moved. From another city. Three years ago.
My friend Wayne Holt of Futons & More in Rochester, N.Y., has a great way of handling hardware requests. He hauls out a big box filled with all kinds of futon hardware. Zillions of loose bolts, screws, washers, pins, etc. from different models. “Here,” he says, “help yourself to whatever you need.”
I know it's your day off, but a truckload of futons just arrived and there’s nobody here to unload it.
How do the futons know it’s your day off? And why do they always arrive on that day? Another of life’s mysteries unanswered.
Dave Garretson is on the phone.
I don’t know if people hate hearing this, but judging from how few of you take my calls, I can only imagine it is. Hey, pick up, will ya?
The next futon show will be held during July in Las Vegas.
As weird as it sounds, yes, it’s true. We’re holding the next futon show during July in Las Vegas. Yes, right in the middle of when most futoneers are occupied with their busy season. Yes, during the hottest month of the year, in the hottest place in North America. Who came up with this great idea? It must have been a futoneer. After all, none of us is that bright…if we were, don't you think we would’ve found a better way to make a living?