Is the Mattress Industry in a Race to the Bottom?


I’ve seen many cycles during my 45 years in the furniture and mattress business.

A cycle starts with a good product, well made and well received; soon other manufacturers and retailers notice the product and the inevitable cheapening of the product begins. Corners get cut, quality is lost to price and inevitably, the original company that manufactured the quality product stops producing it. The cheap and poorly made copies reduce the demand because of their inferior quality and the product becomes nothing but a commodity, a footnote in the history of that furnishing category. Some examples of this cycle that come to mind are metal bunk beds, black lacquer furniture, and metal and brass beds. There are many others.

I can now foresee this occurring with a product that is near and dear to my heart – latex mattresses.

First, let me say that after 45 years in the mattress business, I believe that there is no better mattress material for comfort and longevity than pure, botanical latex. A mattess made solely with 100% botanical latex (no synthetic latex) should last 10 to 25 years with little loss of comfort or support. Such a mattress should show little or no depression of the latex over that time. Latex Mattresses have been our specialty for the past 28 years with 25 different models on our floor, most built to our own designs, two-sided and flippable. So, what is the problem?

Lately, latex has become the hot item and the cheapening in price and quality is happening.

Many stores have “discovered” latex and many manufacturers, to get an edge, are using synthetic latex (SBR – Styrene Butadiene Rubber, made from petroleum and solvents) because it is cheaper. Many are calling their product “Natural”. Some are laminating an inch or two of SBR latex to a block of polyurethane foam and calling it a latex mattress. Often they are only upholstered on one side, eliminating the ability to flip the mattress to get maximum life and comfort. The unwary or uninformed consumer is the victim of these retailers, often paying a high price in both money and the sting of poor quality. Many of these manufacturers and retailers represent their products as natural or pure latex.

The latex is inside the mattress so they are unlikely to be caught lying.

Unfortunately, even researching on the internet is difficult because there is a lot of deception. One manufacturer of synthetic latex represents their latex as being all natural and has flooded the internet with smoke and mirrors. Their “signature product is 80% synthetic SBR and 20% botanical. The product is “tested” to be longer lasting than botanical latex but the test is done at 158 degrees, the lowest temperature where it can test as more durable. Also, petroleum and solvent based synthetic latex, unlike botanical latex, off gasses noticeably for many weeks and even months after opening the mattress.

All of this cheapening of the product I call a race to the bottom.

My concern is that the outstanding reputation, much deserved, of botanical latex will be sullied by negative reviews of broken down mattresses represented as latex. The pressure is on to compromise, to appease the consumer who shops price alone without understanding what they are getting. We won’t do it. The same thing happened with the “Can’t Flip” “No Flip” mattresses, but we have found taking the high road is best.  Sticking with durable products is in the best interest of our customers, our store, and our planet.

I do hold out hope that the cycle for latex will be different and that the consumer will be better informed. I don’t hold out much hope that the manufacturers and retailers will get a conscience.

2 thoughts on “Is the Mattress Industry in a Race to the Bottom?

  1. Claudio Brumen says:

    Nice blog. I found it while browsing for two-sided mattresses. If you were in Houston I’d buy from you!

    My wife and I got up this Saturday morning and we concluded that we got ripped off with This can’t-flip mattress. It’s five years old, sags terribly, and now we have to shell out money for another one.

    • Jeff Garfield says:

      Claudio

      I sympathize with you and the can’t flip mattress. There is so much money for the mattress companies in disposable product that I don’t think they will go back to making long lasting, two sided models except for the hotel/motel industry (that won’t buy one sided ones). The cost saving in eliminating the second side of the mattress has made these companies lots of money and then the companies are resold at a profit. It is no longer the goal solely to make a profit on the product but on the resale of the companies to private equity firms and retirement funds. All the big “S” brands (Sealy/Stearns & Foster, Simmons, Serta, Springaire) are now owned by private equity or retirement funds – the mattress people are gone.

      A two-side, flippable mattress will last 2 to 3 times as long. The key is to reduce or eliminate poly foams, soy and memory foams as they are the culprits in mattress depressions.

      My recommendation, as it is in my Store, is to get a botanical (as opposed to “natural”, which can be 80% synthetic) latex mattress with either latex or wool cushion layers on both sides. Queen size botanical latex mattresses start at $999.95 and go up from there. We have 25+ of these on our floor. Many can be sent UPS because they can roll up. We ship them all over the country including Utah, Alabama and Texas just this week! The one I would recommend as a popular and problem free mattress comes in a firm or plush version with a 6″ botanical latex core, an additional layer of a softer botanical latex on each side and a wool layer under the organic cotton cover. This model sells for $1799.95 in the plusher version and $1899.95 in the firm. Good, less expensive models are available, too. Shipping on queen size, if via UPS, would be included and there would be no sales tax. King size would have a shipping charge as it needs to go by truck.

      We would like to have your business and will do a good job for you. I would also be happy to advise on other mattresses if you would like.

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We only sell two sided mattresses. Here's Why:

A 2-sided mattress you can flip and rotate is better for your body and your wallet! Flippable mattresses last up to 3 times as long as ‘can’t flip’ ones. It’s simply untrue that 2-sided mattresses are no longer being made. Here at Bedrooms & More Seattle, they’re all we sell — because it’s what is best for our customers and the environment.

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Night & Day K-Series/P-Series

Spices Bed Rails

Dual System Headboards • Works with both K-Series and P-Series Rails •
dual_diagram
K-Series   P-Series
k-series-info   p-series-info

New “Dual System Headboards”

We are in the process of changing many of our headboards to be both “K Series” and “P Series” capable. The headboards will have both sets of holes for using either way. The new headboards will be marked “Dual System Headboard” on the boxes. This process will take time for all sizes and finishes to be available and will be gradual, as the new versions come in and the old version get depleted. We are telling you now so that you can be aware of what the “Dual System Headboard” terminology means when you see it on the box or in our catalog. The list of headboards that will be switched to the new “Dual System” are listed below. Of course, you will need to order the correct rails and footboards depending on whether the customer wants “K” or “P” Series. The new “K Series” height allows for the use of the bigger bunk bed drawers and/or trundle and “K Series” footboards already have the privacy panel built in. We are also making the Folding Footboard Bench Footboard “Dual System”. If you need one of the new items to be “Dual System” (for “K Series”), you will need to specifically request it until all old versions are gone, to make sure you get the new version.

Spices Bed Rails & Accessories Compatibility

  K-Series Rails P-Series Rails
Dual-System Headboard   Matching Accessories   Matching Accessories
Blackpepper Bed Dual-System tick
  • K-Series Basic Footboard
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
tick
  • P-Series Basic Footboard
  • Footboard Panel
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Chameleon Bed Dual-System
Nutmeg Bed Dual-System
Rosemary Dual-System
Solstice Bed Dual-System
Tamarind Bed Dual-System
Folding Footboard Bench Dual-System Footboard tick
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
tick
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
 
  K-Series Rails P-Series Rails
Other Spices Headboards   Matching Accessories   Matching Accessories
Basic Footboard (P-Series) To form a Basic Bed cross   tick
  • Footboard Panel
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Coriander Bed cross   tick
  • P-Series Basic Footboard
  • Footboard Panel
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
Saffron Bed
Thyme Bed
Laurel Bed cross   tick
  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
K-Series Basic Footboard To form a Basic Bed tick
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
cross  
Jasmine Bed tick
  • K-Series Basic Footboard
  • Folding Footboard Bench
  • Cinnamon Drawers
  • Cinnamon Trundle Bed
cross  
Sandpiper Bed
Vanilla Bed
Ginger Captain’s Bed tick
  • Rolling Bucket Drawers
  • Captain’s Trundle Bed
cross  
Carmel Bed cross Note: Carmel Bed has its own matching rails.

  • Premium Collection Futon Drawers
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