The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

January 16, 2014

On the matter of mattresses…

GREENVILLE — Goldilocks didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but she had it comparatively easy--lucky beyond measure-- to find the “just right” bed on the third try. Within mere seconds of trying out The Three Bears’ beds, she nestled comfortably, thinking—albeit erroneously—that all was right with her world.

Today we are challenged by dozens of eye-crossing choices offered by many firms, some with big ads proclaiming whatever day it is to be the best day ever to purchase a new mattress.

Our first one served us well for nigh onto 40 years—until it buckled 14 years ago. When they removed the mattress, a card fell out: “Re-Elect LBJ to the US Senate.”…

*****

My wife and I thought we were careful shoppers back there at century’s turn, hoping to buy another king mattress to take us to 2040 or so. After all, we bought from a reputable company that made good on warranties. They replaced our mattress twice in a single decade.

Authorities say that the average life of mattresses now is seven to nine years.

And young adults are largely to blame. Back when, mattresses were constructed with durability in mind; comfort was a distant second. Nowadays, it’s all about comfort, bells, whistles and miscellaneous technology. Durability concerns rarely come up….

*****

During my youth, family mattresses--always “used”--were cotton-filled. When they sprang leaks, we called Elmo Letbetter, who reconditioned with cotton re-fills.

There were no warranties to deal with, since the mattresses—like clothes—were hand-me-downs.

‘Course most folks did far more physical labor in those days, so we could sleep anywhere-- on pallets, cots, air mattresses and curled up in a wheelbarrow. Creek bank sleeping was fine should fishing be involved….

*****

A few weeks back, we discovered mattress-sagging on both sides. Yep, it was time to shop for a new one—our fourth try since 2000. (I can live with my “matted hair,” but not if it is caused by a bad mattress.)

Brenda “deaf-eared” my suggestion that we consider a gently-used, $17.50 mattress listed on Craigslist. So, we watched ads, read Consumer Reports and called various stores to find a king mattress that was “just right.”

We “lucked out” on the first store we visited….

*****

I never thought I would admit this, but here goes: A computer was our best friend. We were escorted to a computer-assisted mattress that provided important data, thus simplifying our search. All we had to do was lie down and follow instructions. Within five minutes, the “Expert Match”™ had spit out information on our sleeping contortions, movement and more stuff, and then the nice salesman suggested mattresses that came closest to meeting our needs.

There was no pressure. He asked us to try a few, and we made an almost iron-clad decision on one we liked and could afford.

We then visited a couple of other stores, both of which fell short—not only because they didn’t use computers to determine our likes and wants, but they vowed “never to be undersold.” One wanted us to find the best price around, then return for him to beat it….

*****

Soon we were back at the store first visited, print-out in hand. Our purchase was made from Aaron Simmons, who, while saying nice things about Simmons mattresses, regretted being a limb on a different Simmons tree. He’s an absolute sleep expert, though, who has heard it all. (He spoke of one customer seeking a mattress for her pet pig. She insisted on steel coils; otherwise, her pet would “root” through the foam in short order. Another guy wanted a king bed with a matching, extra-long twin bed, the latter for his dog.)

The very next day, deliverymen came. During the minutes before delivery, Brenda was readying our vacuum cleaner, ready to “attack” when the old mattresses were removed. She told them she just couldn’t imagine where all the dust came from; I’m sure it’s been there since the last mattress was brought in.

For folks about to embark on a mattress quest, please consider our experiences. And don’t try to act like an expert. Aaron and his associates know better, but they’ll smile and help you anyway!...

*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

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