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February 13, 2011

24

Simplicity Sofas – Unique Products, Unique Marketing, Unique Results

10 Awards + 3 Bonus. No Awards Remaining.

Simplicity_Sofas - Startup Featured on StartUpLift

Simplicity Sofas develops proprietary products to service undiscovered market niches.

Target Audience: Men and women ages 35-70. Homeowners of older houses with narrow doors or stairways, Owners and renters of older apartments.RV and boat owners, Military officers, People who move frequently. Parents and grandparents of college students.
Website URL: http://www.simplicitysofas.com


Feedback sought:

  1. Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?
  2. Is the detailed description believable? If no, what don’t you believe?
  3. Visit http://www.simplicitysofas.com. Spend no more than 5-10 seconds on the home page. What do you think the site is about?
  4. Now go back to the site and comment on various elements of the site.
  5. What do you find bothersome? What do you like?
  6. How do you feel about having full access to the site without having to sign up?
  7. Can you easily see how to order a free catalog or free fabric swatches?
  8. How do you think the site compares to other similar sites/competitors?
  9. Please share any additional feedback/comments you might have.

About Simplicity Sofas:

Simplicity Sofas has developed patented, proprietary furniture products with high technological barriers to competition that target substantial market niches that are unreachable by other furniture companies.

The company designs, manufactures and sells the products directly to consumers, bypassing retailers and ensuring unusually high profit margins for the industry.

The company’s primary marketing focus has been on establishing customer service standards far beyond customer expectations. Simplicity Sofas’ customers are so enthusiastic about the products and the service they receive that they enthusiastically spread their experiences through word of mouth and internet reviews and blogs. There are many repeat customers.

After more than 3 years and over 2000 customers Simplicity Sofas has never had a negative review. It does, however have a national network of customers who have volunteered to show the Simplicity Sofas furniture in their homes to prospective new clients since the company does not sell to retailers and some customers insist on seeing and feeling before they buy.

There are 3 primary market niches the company targets at this time.

1. Homeowners or apartment dwellers with narrow doors, stairways, elevators, etc. which a normal sofa or sleeper will not fit through.

2. Small scale furniture for smaller homes and apartments. The company makes sofas, sleepers and chairs in hard-to-find smaller sizes that are very difficult for consumers to find in retail stores.

3. Sectionals that target both the small scale market and the market for people with narrow entranceways.

All Simplicity Sofas products generally fit under the category of “Ready-to-Assemble” (RTA) upholstered furniture. There have been RTA sofas and sectionals in the marketplace for about 50 years. Simplicity Sofas products are different than all those others.

The RTA upholstered furniture industry is made up primarily of large companies (mostly overseas)selling to large retailers. These products are mass produced and are designed to be inexpensive and cheap to ship. Retail prices for a sofa generally range from $299 to $599 with limited selections of styles and fabrics.

Simplicity Sofas markets to the consumers that these other RTA furniture companies have ignored — customers who need an RTA product, but who have enough money so that they want to buy nicer furniture. Until Simplicity Sofas there was nowhere for these customers to buy high quality custom RTA upholstered furniture.

Simplicity Sofas makes the highest quality (and highest priced) RTA upholstered furniture available anywhere. Simplicity Sofas are also the easiest and fastest to assemble.

Here is a YouTube video featuring a Simplicity Sofa being assembled in less than 5 minutes without tools – by an 8 year old boy:

All Simplicity Sofas furniture is custom made, one piece at a time, just like normal high quality furniture. Materials used such as solid oak frames and premium quality cushions are also the same as expensive conventional sofa makers. The company offers a selection of 150 different fabrics, several different types of cushions, slipcovers, sleeper options and dozens of other custom things that can be done upon request.

Where the low end competition sells for $299-$599, Simplicity Sofas starts at $799 and can go over $1500. Sectionals can go from $2000 – $4000. The average sofa sells for over $1000. There is no competition at this price point.

The customer base is not price oriented. The company has taken 4 price increases in 3 years and sales just kept going up each time. The last increase was taken January 1, 2011 and the monthly sales are more than double the previous January. A large majority of customers choose the most expensive fabric grades and nearly 75% buy at least one optional (high margin) item to go with their furniture.

The factory opened its doors in November,2007. One week later President Bush announced that the country was officially in recession. The furniture industry was hit very hard in the recession and is only now slowly coming back. Dozens of well-established furniture companies went out of business or fled overseas.

During that same recessionary time period Simplicity Sofas monthly sales went from $0 to more than $100,000 and are continuing to grow. January, 2011 sales are more than double the sales from the previous January.

13 Awards. $5 Each. No Awards Remaining.

       
24
  1. [1]
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    Points: 10877
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Feedback sought:   Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would…
     

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  2. [2]
    jessicafry
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    Points: 1775
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?…
     

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  3. [3]
    Sierra12346
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    Points: 3287
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? Yes!!…
     

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  4. [4]
    greatfeedback4u
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    Points: 10708
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    Has Helped 132 Startups
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? Yes, I think…
     

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  5. [5]
    Roy
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    Points: 725
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Feedback sought: Are there too many details listed in…
     

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  6. [6]
    Latasha
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    Points: 8628
    Rank: Level 13
    Has Helped 171 Startups
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    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? Yes there are…
     

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  7. [7]
    Jeff Frank
    Jan 31 2011
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    Thank you for the review.  When the website was first set up it had many more pictures and far less copy.  I was told, however, that search engines track by copy and do not search pictures, so I was advised to add more copy to the website.  From what I am seeing in these reviews that is no longer the case.
    Concerning the 15 minute assembly time — that is completely real.  If you take the time to read through our customer reviews you will see statement after statement about how it really took only 15 minutes (or less) and also how sturdy and well-built the product is.
    The 8 year old did have practice.  He put the sofa together and took it apart by himself 5 or 6 times before the video was shot (in 1 take.)

  8. [8]
    Latasha
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    Points: 8628
    Rank: Level 13
    Has Helped 171 Startups
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    Jan 31 2011
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    sorry that my post got cut off  I don't under the color usage on the page. When…
     

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  9. [9]
    sm3
    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?
    There is far too much information on the homepage.  It takes away from the professionalism and image you want to portray to visitors. 

    If I were to take away a few of the details, I would suggest removing everything below the main picture.  I know – it seems harsh, but, this is what secondary pages are for.  You might include links to social media, or contact info – but I wouldn’t even read that information because it’s too dense.  I want to know what I’m reading (hence, what tabs are for) – a big bunch of text is too much. 
    Is the detailed description believable? If no, what don’t you believe?
    Actually, it’s all believable – and much of it is great.  It’s just that most is not necessary to have on the homepage - and some on the website at all.  For instance – I don’t need to know that you have a patent and more pending – it’s irrelevant to me as the consumer. 
    Visit http://www.simplicitysofas.com. Spend no more than 5-10 seconds on the home page. What do you think the site is about?
    I would think the site is about basic furniture – nothing over the top, special, or extra. 
    Now go back to the site and comment on various elements of the site.
    I love the homepage set up (minus all the extra text).  the main picture scroll and navigation system look very professional.  The tabs are clear and easy to follow.   You seem to have a lot to offer – I’m not sure that everythign is being read, though.  Everything below the main picture scroll (all the extra text) is lost.  You may be missing opportunities to have viewers order catalogues, or connect through social media, because they have to scroll so far to access it.
    What do you find bothersome? What do you like?
    I don’t know anything about the company from the tab system.  Add in a tab that is “about us”, and place all the text from the bottom in there in an organized fashion.  Also, fix the font, it looks cheap and the green bold is just not working!
    How do you feel about having full access to the site without having to sign up?
    I LOVE that.  I hate having to sign up to view products – oftentimes that’s the difference between me shopping at a site and not.
    Can you easily see how to order a free catalog or free fabric swatches?
    Yes, but only because I was told to scroll.  Otherwise, as a random visitor, I might not even realize that I could scroll on the home page and miss this completely.

    How do you think the site compares to other similar sites/competitors?
    It’s good, looks similar.  However, you need to personalize the site.  Tell me why it’s called simplicity sofa, where did that come from, how can I learn more about the founders and the company.  I want to know what makes you human, and real.   Stories go a long way with consumers. 

    Please share any additional feedback/comments you might have.
    You have a great concept, and a really solid sight.  You’ve asked some good questions to help further site development.  You offer a high end product, and you want to make sure that everything on your site, from font size and color, to layout, to pictures, to the copy text reflects that stature.  Best of luck to you!

    ?
  10. [10]
    StacyC
    Jan 31 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?

    Yes, you need to be more direct, no body will read through all of that information they will either move on or just not read it leaving any information you wanted to convey wasted. I would move everything below the you tube clip to a new page indicating pros for the Simplicity Sofa

    Is the detailed description believable? If no, what don’t you believe?

    Believable yes but like I listed above who will read through all that type.

    Visit
    http://www.simplicitysofas.com. Spend no more than 5-10 seconds on the home page. What do you think the site is about?
    No problems here you are definetly selling furniture and you are right on the money there.

    Now go back to the site and comment on various elements of the site.

    First of all I would change the furniture colletion pictures, put them on a slide show so my eye is draw to that, if I see something I like come across the screen that will keep me interested.
    Second, I am aware that these are high qaulity items but a couch for $800 is a little steep, if you are trying to attract families in smaller and older homes odds are they are not weathly. I personally live in an older farm house with narrow doorways and awkward corners but to drop $800 on a couch that comes in a box is not goint to be up my alley, get them to fall in love with the couch first and then get them to the pricing.
    I again go back the the amount of text on the screen, put in little bits of information about your shipping and assembly options but leave the fine print to the check out page.
    When I look at the pictures dispaying your furniture none of the homes you are diplaying seem to be very small or older, I would think if this is a selling point for your product you should try to sho that off.
    Instead of a list of prices under the collections you could add a drop down menu so your customer can pick the size and type of furniture they need with out having to look at all of the options.

    What do you find bothersome? What do you like?

    I do not find anything truely bothersome just a little busy. The home page is very nicely laid out at least on the top half, you have very nice pirtures available so your customer really knows what they are getting.

    How do you feel about having full access to the site without having to sign up?

    I think that is a great option, alot of people no longer want to give out information on the web of any kind because of spam and identity theft so to allow them access to find something they want is a great option.

    Can you easily see how to order a free catalog or free fabric swatches?

    Yes, these items stand out on the home page bery well

    How do you think the site compares to other similar sites/competitors?

    I think it is better in some ways that it is easy to navigate but it is also a little more cluttered that others.

    Please share any additional feedback/comments you might have.

    This is a well thought out site that contains the needed information and is easily navigated, I would however remove some of the extra content to down size the clutter.

  11. [11]
    kah321
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    Points: 75
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    Feb 1 2011
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    Feedback sought: Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take…
     

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  12. [12]
    greatfeedback4u
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    Points: 10708
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    Feb 1 2011
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    Hi,   Search engines do search images, although you're right that copy usually weighs much more heavily in…
     

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  13. [13]
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    Points: 1502
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    Feb 1 2011
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    1. Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?…
     

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  14. [14]
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    Points: 1502
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    Feb 1 2011
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    Sorry, I haven't completed question 1. Basically, all the information needs to be rearranged I would take most of…
     

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  15. [15]
    burgassoc
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    Points: 125
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    Feb 1 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? Yes. There…
     

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  16. [16]
    Kailuana
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    Points: 25
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    Feb 3 2011
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    Great pictures!  Easy to move around on website.  I'd prefer the webpage to be a little less wordy though.  The…
     

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  17. [17]
    StartUpLift
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    Feb 6 2011
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    $5 awarded to zeke2100.
     

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    StartUpLift
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  19. [19]
    StartUpLift
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    $5 awarded to greatfeedback4u.
     

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    StartUpLift
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    $5 awarded to Roy.
     

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  21. [21]
    StartUpLift
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    StartUpLift
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    $5 awarded to sm3.
     

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    StartUpLift
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    StartUpLift
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    $5 awarded to Nuria.
     

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    StartUpLift
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    $5 awarded to Sierra12346.
     

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    StartUpLift
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  27. [27]
    kjself
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    Feb 13 2011
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    1. Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?…
     

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  28. [28]
    Propz
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    Feb 14 2011
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    Feedback sought: Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take…
     

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  29. [29]
    dmccormick
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    Feedback sought: Are there too many details listed in the detailed…
     

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  30. [30]
    mattgsx
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out?…
     

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  31. [31]
    kw7464
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    Feb 17 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? I…
     

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  32. [32]
    Jeff Frank
    Feb 18 2011
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    Thank you for your comments.

    I am still not clear on the proper mix of pictures and copy that will be simplest for customers to view but at the same time achieve maximum visibility on the search engines.

    Originally the site had more pictures and less copy and I was advised by a very expensive SEO company that if we wanted to get high organic positioning on the search engines, we needed to drastically increase the copy. That strategy has actually worked which makes it difficult at this point to cut back on the copy to make the home page less cluttered.

    Frequently we get observers who read our customer comments and think that those comments are just too good to be true. In truth, the Simplicity Sofas primary marketing strategy is based around providing products and customer service that are better than anything ever seen before in the furniture industry.

    One small example is that every customer receives a follow-up email after they have received their furniture asking how they like it and what they think of the company’s products and customer service. No other company in the furniture industry does this.

    Customers are also invited to tell about any problems or imperfections with the furniture. When there are problems, the company quickly fixes them with a minimum level of inconvenience to the customer. Customers who experienced minor (or major) problems frequently become the company’s most enthusiastic supporters.

    This is a problem for major review sites. Yelp has refused to publish dozens of reviews from Simplicity Sofas customers since Nov. 2009. Their automated filtering system cannot comprehend that so many customers of a small company actually had great experiences that they wished to share.

    The YouTube video is actually one of the company’s most important marketing tools. When most people think about sofas that need to be assembled they think of the IKEA-type sofas with books of multi-lingual instructions, dozens of parts and 1-2 hours of assembly. Many people are unwilling to pay $1000 or more for a product that requires difficult assembly. On our website we tell people that assembly of one of our sofas takes about 15 minutes. Just as you had difficulty believing that our product and service are as good as we say it is, customers simply did not believe that a sofa could really be assembled that quickly and easily. Therefore we shot the video to prove that not only can our furniture be assembled in 15 minutes, but it can be assembled in less than 5 minutes. Using an 8 year old in the Video goes a long way towards convincing older people and single women that they really can assemble our sofas by themselves.

    One last comment — Simplicity Sofas is not really interested in attracting customers who are looking for normal sofas. It wants only those customers with a need for a Ready-to-Assemble sofa that can fit through small entrance ways and into small rooms. I am concerned when some of the reviewers on this site read quickly through the home page and decide that the site is about “furniture.” It is a very specific and unique type of furniture that is not for everybody.

  33. [33]
    Jeff Frank
    Feb 18 2011
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    Hi mattgsx,
     
    Thank you for your comments.  Of the 20 reviews that I have received on startup.com yours is by far the most comprehensive and informative.  Are you available for consulting or programming work?
    One of my primary concerns is that I have only limited access to modifying the website through an admin program that was set up only after everything else was finalized. I would like to have access to other parts that I cannot currently reach.
    One minor point that you brought up about the lack of explanation for the fabric grades — This topic is not as simple as you might think.  Basically the fabric grades reflect the prices that we pay for the fabrics.  Grade 1 is the cheapest and Grade 4 is the most expensive.  However, price and quality are not necessarily the same.  For example all of my Grade 1 fabrics were bought as closeouts at discounts of 50% – 80% off.
    Every Grade 1 fabric is as good or better than the Grade 2 fabrics and some are equivalent to Grade 3 fabrics. In addition some of the Grade 3 fabrics were also bought at discounted prices. If sold at their original prices these fabrics would range from Grade 4 – Grade 6.
    Please get back to me and let me know whether you are available to help improve our website.
    Jeff

  34. [34]
    H_game
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    Feb 19 2011
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    Are there too many details listed in the detailed description? Which ones would you take out? Yes…
     

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    pennylou
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    StartUpLift
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    StartUpLift
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    knightan1
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    knightan1
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    8rthomas
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    Diamond49
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  42. [42]
    StartUpLift
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