In stock Futon cover inventory as a sales tool.
Tori Zwolenik, of Futon Express in Lakewood, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, says she likes to inventory tons of futon covers so her customers can take it home. "I'm a firm believer that it is very important for the customer to take futon home... it keeps the love factor going," she said. "A three week wait for a futon cover is a downside to most of my customers," said Zwolenick.
One futon store uses their large in-stock inventory as a sales tool. "We have a very open return policy on futon covers," said Barbara Chandler of Heartwood in Boston, MA. "In fact," she says, "we encourage our customers, who can't make up their minds, to take two or three futon covers home to see how they look in their room." Barbara also told us that her customers spend a disproportionate amount of time selecting a futon cover fabric and accent pillows compared to the time they spend picking out a futon frame. "They may take twenty minutes picking out a futon frame and then spend the next hour or so selecting their futon cover fabrics," Chandler said.
Mark Warford, of Futopia in Knoxville, TN, tacks back to the other side of the argument. "For my customers a two week wait is no problem," said Warford, whose store sells eighty-five percent of their futon covers from swatches and fifteen percent from in-stock futon cover inventory. He, along with many of our respondents, tied his futon cover business to the futon concept as a whole. "If retailers get down to carefully selling this category as a variety of components that make up the whole and use a well thought out process to do this then the price points and the margins will go up," said Warford. "In our store futon equals furniture," he said.
We asked our futon retailers how they chose which futon cover fabrics to carry and we got some interesting responses. Some ask their vendors which futon covers are moving well and even tap into the color coordinated pillow ensembles some futon cover manufacturers put together. Others follow the fashion trends of their competition in the traditional furniture store and in shelter magazines like Metropolitan Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Architectural Digest and the like. Some use pillow cover assortments to test consumer preferences for color and design trends and then use these trends to make futon cover selections. Others follow the trends as highlighted in the furniture trade publications and right here in the Hot Futon Covers section of Futon Life.