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Futons withstand economic downturn through 2010

January 27, 2010 by aaron · Leave a Comment 

Thanks to new innovations in futons and futon technology, there are many new styles available that shoppers will be interested in learning about. Some of the latest futons to hit the market include new models made by Strata Furniture. Strata makes futons which have special wall hugging features that do not require their futons to be moved a significant distance from the wall.

These types of futons are ideal for those using their futons daily as well as others who prefer ease and quality over budget. Futons made by Strata do not require you to slide your futon along the floor and away from the wall each time you want to convert your futon into a bed. Instead, the utilize a brilliant design that allows their futons to be extended outward while keeping the legs of the futon stationary.

Other exciting models have continued to stand the test of time regarding fashion. One example comes from a reputable company that has been in business for some time. Night and Day Furniture, a company based in Vancouver, Washington, makes a truly unique two-toned futon called the Aurora. Other pleasing futons in their line include the Twilight, the Nightfall futon and the Orchid futons.

A giant among futon manufacturers, Lifestyle Solutions provides tremendous variety and solid quality throughout their various price points. Their futons include innovative models such as the Dio futon, the Manila futonand the Kobe futon.

As the economy continues to adjust, hopefully pulling itself up by its bootstraps, there will likely be a slew of new futon designs to hit the market. In the meantime, futons continue to be a logical choice for those who need multi-purpose furniture. One reputable dealer of futons claims that 35% of their in-store futon sales are made by those putting their futons in family rooms, another 35% go into guest rooms, 25% go into bedrooms, and the remaining percentage of futons sold occupy other spaces within the home or office.

“We’ve seen huge fluctuations in business over the past couple of years,” says Gabe LeBlanc of Futon Planet. “Still, futons are great products that occupy an important niche, and while people have smaller budgets, they are still finding futons to suite their needs at a price they can afford.”

Buying a Sealy Futon Mattress

September 30, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

Sealy futon mattresses are sold online under dozens of names and a myriad of configurations. Many of these futon mattresses use cotton batting in the surface layer, creating an entry level feel that may not be desirable. Our tips should help you make a decision on the best Sealy futon mattress for your money.

Comparing Sealy Futon Mattresses

The Sealy futon mattresses you are most likely to find in your local futon store or an online retailer are generally variations on a theme. The outer layers will consist of a cotton batting backed by a foam under layer. The remaining portion is usually composed of springs or foam. Tiny changes in composition allows most futon companies to list a half-dozen Sealy futon mattresses under a myriad of names that are essentially the same mattress.

Sealy futon mattresses offer you one of the rare instances where you will want to shop by thickness. Many of the licensed manufacturers overestimate the thickness of their futon mattresses, so be sure to call your futon retailer to confirm the actual size of the futon mattress. Futon owners have reported receiving “8 inch” Sealy futon mattresses that are barely 6″ thick in the center. If your futon retailer is hesitant to recommend their Sealy futon mattresses, it is likely because they are inferior to other futon mattresses at the same price point.

Some futon retailers feel obligated to offer their customers Sealy futon mattresses because of the strength of the brand and consumer awareness. Like any other important purchasing decision, be sure to open a line of communication with your futon retailer.

If you have an opportunity to try out a Sealy futon mattress in your local futon boutique, it may change the way you feel about Sealy futon mattresses as a brand. Because of this, some brick and mortar stores simply don’t display these futon mattresses on their sales floor. It is our specific recommendation that you try a Sealy futon mattress prior to buying one, or at least speak in length to a futon expert regarding the quality of their Sealy futon mattresses.

Best Futon Company

September 25, 2008 by admin · Leave a Comment 

Who is the best futon company in your area? Which are the best futon companies nationwide? When shopping for futons, we often want to cut through all of the complex marketing jargon that dealers so often contrive to make themselves look like the best futon company in the world. As consumers we just want to get to brass tax.

What we really want to know is, how much, how long until we get it, what’s the warranty? Of course, we understand there are many options and factors that might go into helping you, the dealer, to give us a more well-rounded answer, so maybe you can give us simpler categories. Here’s an idea. Why not give us the option to select from good, better and best? That’s three general categories that we can choose from.

From there, we can go on to select whichever category appeals most to our senses of quality and budget. For good measure, make the prices large enough to read and make sure the prices accurately support what the pictures display. That would be nice for a change. I think the best futon company is the one that is the most straight up.

Consumers get tired of reading “Optional, sold separately, not-included, etc.” If it’s not included, then please don’t show it! Futon Planet might have the best prices, or Affordable Futons might have a neat website and that’s great, but I really care about are quick simple answers to my questions so I can buy your product and get back to whatever whatever I was doing before I got caught up with options-galore and “not-sold-as-shown” on your website!

Now what was I doing before I started writing this article? Oh yes, I was shopping for a futon and looking for the best futon company from which to buy. ;)

New Convert-A-Couch Collection from Handy Living

September 23, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

You may be familiar with the Convert-A-Couch collection from Handy Living that turned the world of sleeper sofas upside down. These ultra popular sofas are actually futons due to their removable mattress and hinged operation. Recently featured as a Best Buy from Consumer’s Digest Magazine, the convert-a-couch has been a favorite at Futon Magazine. While we strive to be as neutral as possible in all of our articles, we simply can’t come up with much to say against the quality and comfort of a Convert-A-Couch. The new Siesta line promises to deliver the same comfort in new styles.

Siesta Convert-A-Couch Collection

Madrid Casual Convertible by Handy Living

The Siesta Convert-A-Couch collection by Handy Living features 5 innovative “sofas” that lay down to a comfy full size bed. The first of these futons in disguise that caught our eye was the sleek Cancun Convert-A-Couch. The Cancun features slim, sleek, contemporary lines and an attractive over-scaled cushion design. The Cabo Convert-A-Couch offers a similar style with a more modern tufted cushion design. If you crave something a bit more transitional, the Baja Convert-A-Couch adds a slight sleigh curvature to the arms that contrasts the busy cushion tufting.

Looking for something even more traditional, the La Paz offers large scale cushions and classic curved arms while the Madrid ads fluffy, comfy, pillow-top armrests. This is good news for those of you who enjoyed the now-discontinued Fusion and Melody Convert-A-Couches (the Jazz Convert-A-Couch is also discontinued, if you’re keeping score).

It’s very noticeable that the original Convert-A-Couch has been phased out of production, save a few models. It’s only speculation on our part, but we’re willing to bet it has to do with the popular response and loads of feedback, positive and negative, that Handy Living has received for its original designs. It has been said that many of these changes will address shipping size and packaging, as these generally ship in oversize boxes that rarely see care from shipping companies.

How does a Convert-A-Couch Work?

Convert-A-Couches use a premium innerspring mattress that is split between two cover sections. This split is difficult to notice when used as a bed, so we wouldn’t lose sleep over it. The conversion process is simple to do and gravity assisted. To lay it down as a bed, simply lift the front cushion section to lay down the back and unlock the hinge, allowing it to lay flat. To put it back up, simply perform the same motion again to re-engage the hinge. A “handy” space below the convert-a-couch allows for the storage of seldom-used items, or seasonal decor. We personally think its a good home for your sprawling DVD collection.

Beyond the basic utility, the Convert-A-Couch offers you a soft sitting and sleeping experience that rivals high end mattresses. At a price that equals what you’d pay for a mid-grade futon and frame, the Convert-A-Couch is a great occasional sleep solution for houses across the country.

Simmons Futon Mattress Review

September 18, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

Simmons futon mattresses are one of the few nationally recognized mattress brands that specializes in futons. If you’re in the market for a Simmons futon mattress or just a futon mattress in general, this guide can help you make an informed purchasing decision.

Simmons Futon Mattress Licensing

Bordeaux Futon Set by Simmons Futon

The Simmons brand futon mattress is typically a futon made by a private label company under a license from Simmons to print their label on their mattresses. This isn’t to say that the mattresses are “fake” or “phony”. Many of the products you use every day, from cell phones to carbonated soft drinks, are distributed on similar licenses. What you do need to realize are two key factors in this equation: cost and quality.

Futon mattress manufacturers selected to carry high-end labels like the Simmons futon mattress brand have been thoroughly inspected by Simmons to meet their criteria for quality, efficiency, and capability. The manufacturer has proven that they have the precision machinery and skilled workers needed to craft a high quality futon mattress. They have also demonstrated their access to high quality raw materials at discounted rates due to their buying power and market presence. In addition, the manufacturer in question must have implemented a top notch quality control process and an efficient production cycle to keep costs down. Big name brands like Simmons futon mattress are careful when selecting manufacturers, as the consumer will associate the quality of the final product with the Simmons brand.

On the other side of the coin, you must understand that a portion of the final product price is passed from the retailer to the manufacturer, and another portion is passed from the manufacturer to the licensor. This roughly translates to a higher overall cost. This is justified by the exceptional quality you will receive when ordering a thoroughly refined product, specifically a complete Simmons futon set.

Simmons Futon Sets

Corsica Futon Package by Simmons Futon

One thing to know about Simmons Futon Sets: they look exactly the same as advertised, if not better. I’m sure that you’ve had an experience, perhaps with a tasty hamburger from a fast food restaurant, where the final product looked nothing like the picture your ordered from. It’s become so commonplace in marketing that we’ve begun to accept and expect to be presented with a picture that grossly exaggerates the products quality. Many futon sets you order online look nothing like the pictured item, usually because the picture includes a mattress that is over twice as thick as the futon “pad” you will receive, and is wrapped in a futon cover that could easily cost 8 times the value of the cover that is included in the futon package. Not so with Simmons futon sets.

Simmons futon sets include thick wood frame that is heavy by futon standards. The operation is smooth and many of the frames have features not found on any other futon frame, such as magnetic latches for storage bins and fold-away side trays. The included futon mattresses are supportive, offering a comfortable sleep that rivals many traditional mattresses. The mattress casing is tufted to fit the futon snugly; the casing will never sag or wrinkle like a poorly sized futon cover. The mattress looks more like upholstered furniture than anything else. Simmons futon sets include everything pictured, even the coordinating pillows! While definitely pricey (expect to pay over $800 for a full size) Simmons futon sets are the easiest way to get that “magazine home” look.

Simmons Futon Mattresses to Avoid

Switching gears, it’s important that we talk about the lower end Simmons mattresses. Remember that a low end mattress that is built to be economical is sold at very little markup, and you will inevitably get what you pay for. Because of the licensing cost, it is important to consider what percent of your purchase is invested in materials.

Let’s pretend that licensing the Simmons brand to your futon mattresses costs $20 per mattress. In an $800 futon set, this equates to 97% of your money being applied to building a great futon mattress and frame, and only 3% going to Simmons for the licensing and the name. However, when buying an entry-level Simmons futon mattress for $199, you’re essentially buying a $179 mattress for more money. Considering how much of that money goes to shipping the materials from overseas, labor costs, and shipping the mattress to you, the final product may not be much more than a thin pad with a Simmons label attached. In this particular instance, you might be better served buying a generic brand mattress, or manufacturer direct.

Exclusive Interview with Brian Donohoo of Strata Furniture

September 16, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

We caught up with Brian Donohoo of Strata Furniture to get his take on the futon industry and maybe spill the beans on Strata’s next futon frame. Donohoo is the Director of Operations and part Owner of Strata Furniture. Donohoo is also a current Board Member and previous President of the Futon Association. With over 7 years of experience in the manufacturing and importing of futon furniture, Donohoo has a wealth of experience in the futon industry. He spent a few minutes with us to share his opinions on the state of the industry as well as the continuing growth of Strata Furniture.

FM:Thank you again for taking the time from your busy schedule to participate in this interview.
Donohoo: Your welcome, thank you for the opportunity.

FM: How did Strata Furniture get its start? How long have you been with the company?
Donohoo: Strata furniture started in 2000 after one of the owners bought a patent out of Tiltchair, Inc. I started helping them with their accounting until 2001 when I became their day to day manager.

FM: Talk to us about the history of the wall hugger. When did this futon really soar in demand?
Donohoo: The wall hugger mechanism was very well received in our Signature Collection. It has really been in great demand since we introduced our Carriage Collection and especially the Dillon Futon Frame.

The Dillon futon frame features an armless design that is a unique item in the wall hugger catagory.

FM: What separates the Strata wall hugging mechanism from your competitors?
Donohoo: I don’t think the average consumer realized until the past few years that on other futon frames you have to lift a heavy frame and mattress away from the wall and then convert it. Also, we sell very well in cities where real estate is at a premium and people need furniture that fits in tighter spaces but still has the features they’re looking for. The element of space saver and great design has really launched our frames.

FM: What kind of success is Strata seeing in the current economic climate? What effect do you think the relatively higher price of a Strata frame has on overall sales?
Donohoo: We have not felt a downturn in the latest economy. I also think people now understand that you get what you pay for. We went through a period of a few years where all consumers wanted was the cheapest futon frame. However, after buying the cheapest they realized they didn’t get the quality or style they wanted. If you look at the amount of extra wood we use to ensure quality and design, the extra $40-$50 retail is well worth it.

FM: Have you seen a slowdown in overall sales this year?
Donohoo: We have not seen a downturn in sales this year. In fact we have grown every year since we started and this year is no exception. We have a unique product that has been very well received.

The Fremont furon frame features a transitional design and Strata\'s famous wall hugger conversion system

FM: Have you made any changes or started any new projects to help move products more aggressively?
Donohoo: We are always looking at new products and should be introducing several in the next 6 months.

FM: Knock-off designs are common throughout the furniture industry. What is Strata doing to maintain control over its unique styles?
Donohoo: We patent our designs plus our mechanism makes it harder to copy. I think with all the talented companies and individuals out there it is a shame for any company to knock off another company’s designs.

FM: How have low cost futons and loss-leaders from big-box chains affected your business?
Donohoo: I think they have given a bad name for the product and category in general. It doesn’t help our category if someone buys a frame that breaks or a mattress that is so thin it is like a piece of plywood.

FM: What do you think is a viable solution to counterpoint these products?
Donohoo:What it has done is made the specialty shops focus on quality and design and I think that the stores that have done that are doing well. They can sell higher quality products with larger margins and less headache.

The Plantation futon frame takes a modern twist on a mission favorite.

FM: What kind of issues or growing pains have you gone through over the years?
Donohoo: Manufacturing and warehousing is always on the top of our list. It’s critical to find a great manufacturing plant and work very closely with them.

FM: Where do you see the greatest growth potential for Strata Furniture?
Donohoo: Our company has really grown in the past few years. I think we have become well known in the futon industry for a company that produces great products and has excellent customer service. People want to buy from someone that stands behind their product and that is what we do.

FM: Which of your products are you the most proud of and which sells the best?
Donohoo:I am really proud of our Carriage Line of frames especially the three new designs, the Fremont, Plantation and Denali, as they have hit the market and sold extremely well. Our best seller is the Dillon, partially because it’s great in a variety of spaces.

FM: Did you know that these products would be so successful prior to launch?
Donohoo: You never really know what will sell until it hits the market, but we run designs by industry professionals and we have a great design consultant we use who tells us what she thinks will sell and what wont. In the end though you just have to believe in the design and see what the public thinks.

The Denali futon frame features a subtle style and high quality wood finishing

FM: What advice would you give to aspiring furniture suppliers trying to grow in this economy?
Donohoo: It is much tougher than you think. With overseas factories everything takes longer and is more complicated. You really have to watch sales trends and try to predict what the public wants in 6-9 months. That is very hard to do. I think you also have to really define what your market will be and what you can offer different from what is already out there.

FM: Thanks again, Brian Donohoo, for taking the time to interview with us. We really appreciate it and we are sure our readers will too!
Donohoo: Your welcome.

Futon Magazine wants to hear from You!

August 5, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

Are you a futon expert? Futon Magazine is looking for seasoned futon experts with knowledge to share about their trade. Any breaking news, helpful tips, futon press, or just generally useful information for the futon purchaser is appreciated. We are also conducting interviews with various futon insiders to offer a more personal perspective for futon buyers who want to know a little more information about their futon manufacturers. For a limited time, we will also be taking press releases from manufacturers and retailers concerning futon news. Help customers connect with your product on FutonMagazine.com.

General Guidelines

  • Articles should be as unbiased as possible
  • Your orginazation will be clearly identified in the byline
  • We reserve the right to correct spelling and grammar issues, as well as general content editing to fit the spirit of the site. You will be sent a final proof for your approval prior to posting
  • Sales letters and promotional material will be rejected
  • Please, no more than 800 words per article

Please send articles and press releases to info @ magazine.com. Also use this email address to request interviews and to send in tips or questions that you would like to see answered on Futon Magazine.


Top Ten Futon Retailers of 2008

August 5, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

Top 10 Futon Companies

This special August Edition reviews America’s top ten futon companies. For 2008 the top ten futon companies include:

  1. Futon Planet
  2. CSN Futons
  3. Futons Etc Factory Outlet
  4. Ellens Futons
  5. Futon Creations
  6. FutonsNow
  7. Affordable Futons
  8. theFutonShop
  9. Today’s Futons
  10. Futon Street

Read more

Three Smart Questions to Ask Your Futon Dealer

August 5, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

Asking some basic questions of your online futon dealer means getting on the phone. This is one reason Futon Magazine advocates ensuring your futon dealer is accessible by phone. While the following recommended questions to ask your futon dealer form a general basis, you should ask as many questions as you can. The more things you ask the more likely you will be happy with your purchase.

Searching Reputations with Google

Before delving into the suggested questions, look for signs of reputability like Better Business Logo’s, Visa Logos, Privacy and Security Policies, Terms and Conditions, contact information. However, not every logo should readily be trusted. A great tip is to search for the dealer by name. For example, a Google search of the large advertiser Mercantila shows a link to a slew of dissatisfied customers. For example, Brad writes this about Mercantila saying:

I will start by saying this is the worst online shopping experience I have ever had. Now this is saying something. I have been shopping online extensively since 1998 when I first bought tickets off of Ticketmaster. I have bought from probably over 100 different online-only merchants these past ten years, many (if not most) being “gray market” or seemingly “fly by night” operations. I have never been burned.

Another customer writes about Mercantila, “Horrendous experience! I find it hard to believe they are a web-based merchant…” This customer writes “DO NOT buy from them at any COST. ” Reading through the list you will find dozens of negative customer experiences that make it seem like Mercantila is likely a company to avoid for futon purchasing.

Dig deeper by checking the Better Business Bureau at http://bbb.org to see what they have to say about a retailer your are considering to give your business. In some cases, it might be better to shy away from buying from bulk companies doing business from countries like Asia and India. Doing business with a domestically based futon company will often yield a better opportunity to get your money back or get helpful status reports.

Three Smart Questions

  1. How long have you been in business selling futons?
  2. When can I expect delivery AND how can I track my order?
  3. What is your return policy if I am unhappy or dissatisfied?

Most companies will have honest answers to these questions. Further probing will give you a better sense of the futon dealer’s mastery of their products and will give you an idea of how safe you think it is to do business with them. Keep in mind that most companies who offer free shipping, will expect some type of reimbursement should you decide to return your futon.


August Lotz: Quality and Diverse Selection

August 5, 2008 by FM · Leave a Comment 

August Lotz has been in the futon business for a long time and has a reputation of building some of the sturdiest futon frames on the market. Using solid hardwoods like maple and oak separates August Lotz from other futon frame manufacturers who use cheaper rubber woods and other materials. Further, August Lotz was recognized as America’s Best Buy by Consumer Digest which has helped to push consumers towards seriously considering August Lotz over other brands when measuring differences. Here you will review three very different models that help to outline their diversity in futon frame designs.

Manhattan futon frame by August Lotz The Manhattan futon frame is a bold departure from the skinny mission arm style that most futon manufacturer’s have sought to create subtle variations on. Its center support is really a shelf that is ideal for storing books and other objects. With August Lotz patented front operation, the Manhattan is equally desirable in terms of function as it is appeal in terms of style.

For those who love modern and artistic furniture pieces the Manhattan is well worth their consideration. If you the same way, and appreciate the Manhattan’s large scale look, then you will be glad to know that this futon frame is one of the most solid on the market.

Lodge Pole futon frame by August LotzOk, so the Lodge Pole is made of pine wood, but it is one of the only futon frames that is and further, the Lodge Pole design is capturing the best in a pine wood futon frame. This rustic design is ideal for cabins and other types of outdoorsy rooms and natural homes. With its oversized armrests, front loading operation, and Consumer Digest’s recognition, the Lodge Pole is really a great model.

White futon frames as peaked and slumped in popularity. It seems as soon as they are available to the market, there is no demand. When manufacturers discontinue their white futon frame models and supply drops, there seems to be a sudden surge in demand and then the cycle starts over again as manufacturers scurry to get a white model futon frame back to market.

Southgate futon frame by August Lotz While it is still difficult to say how this trend might affect August Lotz’s Southgate futon frame in the long run, it is fair to say they get bonus points for original design. The Southgate breaks with the traditional cottage style white futon frame and moves in the direction of merging a white picket fence-look with a modern sloping rear leg support. The result is breathtaking and definitely upscale.

The Southgate will easily satisfy any number of design requirements. From Florida rooms, to Cape Cod beach-front mansions, to grande Southern estates, the Southgate is truly a white futon frame that will softly compliment spaces calling for white furniture pieces.

Whatever your style requirements, it is likely that August Lotz has a futon frame style to suite. Well worth your consideration, Futon Magazine gladly endorses August Lotz as one of America’s better brands.

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