Mattress Madness II

Today we set about the ambitious task of visiting three mattress stores all in one day.

We started our morning at The Natural Mattress store in San Rafel where we spoke with Will (the owner) of the company. We had visited the Palo Alto showroom the weekend before and had liked their innerspring-latex mattresses. The San Rafel store had a larger selection of innerspring-latex mattresses and lots of space for the boys to explore.

Will was very helpful and answered all our questions, and we had a lot. The wool comes from sheep in Washington and Oregon, the steel springs are made in Georgia (the one in the US, not the one constantly under threat of invasion by Russia). The names of mattresses are selected by Will’s dad, and they are assembled locally (not far from the San Rafel store).

If you want an eco-friendly mattress and want to support a small (somewhat) local business I suggest visiting Will. His team is not paid on commission, so there are no high-pressure sales pitches (a very refreshing change from NYScott’s approach). Go early and park in the lot behind the store, all of San Rafel has parking meters so be sure to bring change.

Up next, we headed to Berkley. After a nice lunch with Becca, we went to the European Sleep Works Natural Mattress Systems store. Parking there is nearly impossible, as is driving around the block again. They are a low-square-footage, high-volume sales power house and have been in business since the 1970s.

Sleep Works is home of the adjustable slat system, a variety of innerspring configurations, and latex foam layers. Mattress geekery at it’s finest. The mattress also has very European origins, the latex is processed by the Dutch, the spring systems are German and Swedish, the wool is French. The mattresses are almost infinitely customizable, and they work with many people who have had spinal injuries and operations.

Our sales guru “Steven” walked us through the downstairs and upstairs show rooms, moving mattress toppers, suggesting firmnesses, and having us compare and contrast the slat systems -adjustable vs. regular, yes, there is a difference.

If you don’t mind the horrible parking situation (bring coins for the parking meter), and want to geek-out over mattress components Sleep Works is a good choice.

We ended our day at Sleep City in Santa Rosa with “Bored Scott” to test out the mattress that had originally inspired our look at latex mattresses. Scott was the one who suggested we could customize our own mattress with different toppers, and we wanted to make sure the combination we’d picked out nearly a month earlier was still a good fit.

The Sleep City guys are a nice bunch, but they’re paid on commission. They want you to buy the mattress from them: they pull out the big calculator run a bunch of fancy numbers and give you the “out the door price” on the back of their business card, a neat trick, but at the rate we’re collecting cards I could almost sleep on them. So far, Scott has been the most helpful of the Sleep City sales force.

What we have learned:

Do some reading ahead of time. Check out mattressunderground (among others), and be a some-what informed shopper.

Do figure out what elements in each mattress you like. Do you like memory foam? Do you like latex? Do you like innersprings? Do you like beds to be soft or firm?

We quickly discovered we liked at least 4 inches of talalay latex with a medium-firmness and disliked plushy pillow tops, this enabled us to talk with sales people about what we were looking for and helped us narrow down the mattress selection process.

Do ask a LOT of questions, ask more questions, collect brochures, look at websites, research, research research.

Don’t fall for gimmicky marketing techniques, high-pressure sales pitches, and “AMAZING!!! limited-time offers.” There will be another sale (probably next weekend), and don’t feel too bad asking “is that really the best you can do? This is particularly true of large chain stores, smaller manufactures (like The Natural Mattress Store) don’t necessarily have that flexibility.

Don’t rush into things. We made that mistake once, this time we’re well into our third month of testing.

What have we decided?

Nothing. Mattress shopping is exhausting. All the mattresses we looked at today are/were strong contenders. They were all comparably comfortable (for us anyway), so it comes down do other factors, namely cost and convenience.

When will we decide?

Hopefully soon, our current mattress is horrible.

Helpful websites:

http://www.themattressunderground.com/
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/a-year-in-bed-a-modest-proposa-125918
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/your-money/10haggler.html
http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2008/01/mattress-review.html

Places we’ve tested mattresses:
http://sleepcitybeds.com/ (Sebastopol & Santa Rosa stores)
http://www.thenaturalmattressstore.com/ (Palo Alto & San Rafel stores)
http://www.sleeptrain.com/store/santa-rosa.aspx (Santa Rosa)
http://www.sleepworks.com/ (Berkley)


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