Mission Impossible: Mattress Shopping

Dear Lord, may your loving hand guide Homer to the mattress, square and true.

– Ned Flanders

We like to research stuff before buying said stuff. When we reach the point that the research is folding back in on itself, we’re well and truly ready (and probably a bit over-prepared). But I’m convinced that this point can never be reached when shopping for mattresses. The best article I found on this effect starts:

Here’s a fun game I play. First, I walk into a mattress store and ask what’s on sale. Then, I throw my hands in the air and shout along with the salesman, “EVERYTHING’S ON SALE!!!!” Oh how we laugh, the salesman and I. And while he’s still chuckling, I turn around and walk out, because I fricking hate mattress salesmen.

The article (and a range of websites and message boards) detail how mattress makers and sales staff make it difficult to comparison-shop for the most-used piece of furniture in your home. There are just so many variables — coil count, metal gauge, foam density — and they are couched in such opaque language, it’s enough to make one’s pretty little head spin! Which I suppose is the idea.

(If you are mattress shopping and finding it frustrating, spend some time at The Mattress Underground, starting with their Mattresses 101 thread. It’s still a mystifying industry, but the site is very helpful.)

After much reading and some initial shopping, we determined that we would focus on factory-direct outlets — better pricing, better quality, less slickness. Today, we hit the Original Mattress Factory and Minnesota-based Restwell Mattress Factory.

Mattress shopping is weird. It’s hard to have a dignified transactional conversation whilst lying down. That doesn’t deter the mattress guy from starting one, though.


“And could you please tell me about the warranty?”

The mattress factory places do seem to have better-informed salespeople who were lower-pressure than those at the retail showrooms. But they do have some similarities with other mattress places. For instance, some retail consultant once told a mattress shop that it should paint its walls blue and everyone followed suit.

bedshopblue1 bedshopblue2

Blue: it’s SOOTHING. Also (apparently) considered soothing? No ambient music. I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to expect background music in retail until shopping for a mattress, where silence is golden. Or maybe it’s blue. Either way, you are trying to make an expensive, multi-year decision lying on your back (write your own punchline). In a quiet blue haze. While being closely observed by a guy in chinos.

Which we did! We bought a tight-top (read: no attached pillow-top) inner-spring mattress at Original Mattress Factory, to be delivered on Wednesday. The deciding factors for the OMF mattress versus the rest of the marketplace:

  • Good coil count and substantial steel gauge for long-term resilience.
  • Spring structure extends to the edge of the mattress so the whole thing is sleepable/sittable.
  • Better quality components, like higher density foam and cotton batting.
  • Option to buy only the mattress (since we’ll be putting it on top of our now-complete storage bed and won’t need a box spring).
  • Flippable (double-sided) mattress for longer life (assuming we remember to flip it) — these are surprisingly hard to find on the market, even though they used to be the standard item.
  • Great price.
  • Good warranty.
  • Most importantly: it felt good!

The deciding factor between OMF and Restwell? Price. Restwell had a mattress that we liked about as much as the one we purchased at OMF, and they have a longer warranty. But even with their online coupon, the Restwell mattress we liked was almost $200 more expensive, including delivery. On something this important, I wouldn’t go cheap, but as between two very similar products that I like equally, I’m going to save a little money if I can.

I don’t know if I can believe it, but this purchase means that, by the Fourth, the Kev and I should be actually be living in our own bedroom again!

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