|The Road Not Taken
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It, This, Here, and There at the Futon Expo
Sometimes you walk into the middle of a conversation at a trade event (such as the Futon Expo), and you're not sure what everybody is discussing. Time is short, so don't slow them down by asking questions. Here's what they're talking about.
"Is it over yet?"
"It" is the futon business, and I hear this question at every Futon Expo and High Point market. The people who pose this question are usually waterbed retailers. They watch futons with a wary eye, afraid to get in too deep or become too dependent. They constantly search for signs that "it's over," I guess so they can bail out in time.
"This is just like the waterbed business fifteen years ago!"
"This" is the futon business. This observation, which usually comes from waterbed retailers, has been making the rounds for about, uh, fifteen years. No kidding, I first heard this remark in 1986. Back then, I heard it from a guy with twelve waterbed stores in Southern California. He had a deep tan and a lot of shiny gold jewelry, and he was smiling big, like he'd just discovered a terrific new discount jeweler. I don't remember if I ever saw him again.
Fast forward to 1999. I still hear this comment, and it still comes from waterbed retailers, but now they wear courduroy pants and comfortable shoes, and their faces are worn and serious. "Yes, this is just like what I saw fifteen years ago," they'll say earnestly. It sounds like a warning.
"There's nothing new here."
"Here" is at the Futon Expo, and I've been hearing this remark for about five or six years. In that time, the futon business has seen: new cushioning materials, including new foams, new fibers, and springs; new brand names, including Sealy and Simmons; new widely-copied frame designs, including the flip-top futon arm, the magazine rack arm, higher seating, under-seat futon drawers, and upholstery look futons. Nothing new? This is like a kid who complains "I'm bored. There's nothing to do."
"Who decided that?"
"That" is the time and/or place of the Futon Expo. It's impossible, of course, to decide on a time and place to suit everybody. After years of holding the Expo in May, after High Point, it's now been moved to March, before High Point. The time and the place of the Expo are decided by the board of the Futon Association, who welcome your level-headed input.
"I'll see you there!"
"There" is not here, not now, maybe not ever. I was slow to learn this one. I used to think that "there" meant my booth or showroom at a trade event. I'll tell a retailer, "Hey you oughta see my product." And the answer comes, "Well, the big show is coming up... I'll see you there!"