The SC41 Story

Pioneering Natural, Sustainable Furniture & Mattresses

Michael Baetge, Owner

Before sustainable furniture was well known, there was a store called California Futons that was operated by Michael Baetge.

Every day they delivered natural, organic, toxin-free futons in Santa Cruz and their neighboring communities.

California Futons developed a reputation for providing chemical-free futons.

A lot of furniture in the 1980s and 1990s was made with toxic chemicals. People started discovering that these chemicals were affecting their health in numerous ways.

Big companies didn’t seem to care.

Michael and his customers started asking for more natural, sustainable furniture.

At the same time, he had a chance meeting with an old friend who was developing the most comfortable natural mattresses in the world.

“Michael, come visit our factory.”

He traveled to the factory. As they walked together through the factory, he saw that these mattresses are good for the environmentgood for the workers who make them – and especially good for the people who sleep on them.

A vision started to form in Michael’s mind. . .

A showroom you can visit to bring beautiful environmentally safe furniture and mattresses into your life!

At the time, no one was doing anything like it.

Michael started looking for sustainable manufacturers. Some of the companies claimed to be green – until he read the fine print. Some manufacturers had gone out of business.

But then, a lucky break . . .

Maria Yee
Michael found out about a socially responsible factory in China crafting sustainable furniture. The company, Maria Yee, just happened to be headquartered in Santa Cruz.

Now there wasn’t enough space at California Futons for all the mattresses, dressers, dining tables, recliners, sofas, chairs . . .

Out of nowhere, Michael’s landlord told him about a vacant space on 41st Ave.

The price was good, but the interior was beyond a mess: it was a disaster.

The large room was dark, tiles hung from the ceiling, and wires dangled out of the walls. Everything was covered in dust, and the dank odor of mold made breathing difficult.

Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?! ” thought Michael.

Rather than give up, he took advantage of the opportunity to remodel the space using chemically safe, low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials.

Original SC41 Furniture and Mattress Showroom

It took more than a month to strip the building down, remove the mold, and patch the holes in the ceiling. When it was all done, they had brought out the beauty hidden behind the wreckage.

While the SC41 team worked hard to renovate the showroom, the great recession started wreaking havoc on people’s lives.

Layoffs were frequent, pensions disappeared overnight. Retirees became greeters at large retailers just to make ends meet.

The odds of SC41 succeeding got smaller every day.

Nevertheless, SC41 was opened to the public in February 2008.

Inside the warmly lit store, Michael and his small team showcased a modest collection of environmentally friendly furniture.

For eight months, the business lost money. Was it possible for a sustainable furniture retailer to succeed?


SC41 Original Showroom 2

Michael and the dedicated SC41 team don’t give up. They stuck to the plan, believing that if they did the right thing, it would all work out.

Things started to turn around when the Santa Cruz Sentinel published an article about the Sustainable Santa Cruz furniture and mattress store. The story about SC41 was picked up by newspapers in different states.

Calls came in from across the country. Manufacturers and suppliers with a passion for natural, healthy furniture & decor wanted SC41 to carry their goods.

Professionals in the furniture industry visited the one-of-a-kind showroom to find out how they could run a similar business.

Word spread. More and more families enjoyed peace of mind by bringing chemically safe furniture into their homes.

They told their friends and loved ones about SC41.

In the depths of the recession, SC41 became profitable by doing what they believe in most:
Serving customers with safe, natural, and sustainable beauty.

Since then, laws and regulations governing the use of toxic chemicals have evolved to reflect the original principles of SC41. Today, with an ever-increasing awareness about our environment, choices are more diverse and abundant.

SC41 is honored to be among the pioneers in making eco-friendly furnishings more affordable than ever. SC41 couldn’t do it without you and your commitment to beauty, health, and sustainability.

Experience the joy of sustainability.

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