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Retailers - overview
Retailers represent a "bridge" between manufacturers and consumers and in one sense share many things with consumers since they too are the customers of the manufacturers. In another sense are similar to manufacturers as they are in business to sell mattresses at a profit. As a mattress consumer who buys mattresses, the knowledge about what makes a good mattress and which manufacturers to buy from is a big part of the real "differentiation" that separates the better retail outlets that share the values of The Mattress Underground and those that are more part of the money machine" and "story production" that describes the overall trend of the mattress industry today. Their their willingness to do their homework, their commitment to service, and their reasons for being in business in the first place, are also a big part of the many differences between them. Regardless of whether they are a formal member of The Mattress Underground or not, these high value outlets deserve your business and your trust, partly because they offer better value, even though most consumers don't realize this in the noise of all the advertising stories they are exposed to, and partly because of their knowledge and service.
In many ways, there has been a "mattress underground" for many years made up of manufacturers and retail outlets that push back against the trends of the sleep industry as is has evolved. This underground is made up of countless retailers and smaller manufacturers that are committed to informing consumers about what makes a good mattress, making it, and selling it at a reasonable price. These are places where the knowledge and service alone are worth the price of the mattress and yet it is an "add on" that comes for free. The goal of the more formal Mattress Underground" is to reconnect the thousands of these outlets and manufacturers with consumers and to create a generic "brand", often called an "off brands" by the more dominant parts of the industry, that is recognized as being superior to most of the more recognizable "name brands" that are the source of so many of the problems in mattress manufacturing today. This website and "The Mattress Underground" itself is a way of re-connecting consumers with the retailer and manufacturing segments of a pre-existing mattress underground to offset the more dominant larger manufacturers and retailers that have come to control the sleeping industry.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who are shopping for a mattress is the wide variety of sources that have better value than the more traditional sources for buying a mattress.. No matter how well someone may have narrowed down the qualities of a mattress that is the most suitable for their own circumstances, the question of where to buy it and which one offers greater value is always difficult. Besides the wide variety of mattresses themselves, there are many differences in the choices of mattress, policies, restrictions,and most importantly knowledge and service between the many different types of outlets. In general though, like manufacturers, there are four different categories of choices and each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of them have far more of one than the other. In the Underground section of this website we will be exploring the many places where you can buy a mattress which in many cases, particularly for those who may not have the time or inclination to do all of the research themselves, can be as important as the mattress is itself.
These choices narrow down to the following broad categories, each with their own "typical" strengths. Regardless of which "category" a particular outlet may fall into, the three core values, Knowledge, Service, and Value, of The Mattress Underground are shared by retailers in all four categories and whether any particular one is part of the solution or part of the "problem" has everything to to do with how they choose the mattresses they sell, the reasons why they are in business, and the service and value they provide to their customers.
The broad categories are...
Specialty retailers and "sleep shops". These range from very small local outlets to larger businesses with a larger presence in an area. There is a wide range of excellent choices in this group.
Furniture stores. like all the different groups, they too have a wide range with some of these being closer to the specialty retailers and some closer to a "department store" approach to selling mattresses. There are some excellent choices in this group as well.
Department stores. Most of these sell mattresses that are very expensive and are heavily discounted to lower prices through a series of rotating sales and can sometimes provide good value if these sale prices are cut in half again through their "discount" outlets. While most of these are well known to sell overpriced mattresses, they remain a choice for those who connect them with "quality" whether there is a basis for this or not. There are however a few of these that can provide some surprising value if you know what to look for.
Chain stores. These are the most common places to buy a mattress and while they are certainly some that are very well known either nationally or regionally, there are many common practices among them and some knowledge of their practices and what is available through them can make a big difference in the value you find here.
I was about to try a Zenhaven as what I read about latex mattresses makes sense. I doing homework I went to Mattressfirm and found a Chattam and Wells Catherine mattress which I learned was a bed made to Mattressfirms specs...are these quality beds, overpriced? Any opinions?
Chattam & Wells was introduced as a "premium/luxury" brand by the Spring Air mattress company. They are clearly made to a higher standard than the more commonly available and less expensive Spring Air lines, using better materials like Talalay latex and construction details like hand tufting.
The models sold at Mattress Firm do appear to be customized to their specifications, but have many design features and materials in common with C&W mattresses available through other sources. I've tested some of the C&W mattresses at MF (which btw are only available at a limited number of their locations) and found them very comfortable and appear to be well made, however I have no idea how they would feel to sleep on or how durable they'll prove to be.
I've seen many comments from buyers of Spring Air mattresses complaining about their lack of support when it comes to warranty issues, so if you're considering a purchase I'd suggest being very sure about the vendor you're dealing with since you may end up relying on their support for any issues encountered. I should also mention that when I was at MF checking out the C&W mattresses (and made it very clear I wasn't there to buy that day) the salesman got very aggressive regarding their pricing, offering significant discounts beyond their "lowest ever" holiday event which was active at the time. Kind of makes you wonder how desperate they seemed to make a sale but maybe that's just the way they run their business.