High-end mattress retailers poised for strong growth
Mattress selling has become much more of a high-end business in recent years in a trend that retailers and industry observers expect to continue as the baby boom generation gets older.
In Westchester County, N.Y., Select Comfort stores are already in the Jefferson Valley mall and The Westchester mall, and another high-end mattress retailer, Dormia, opened a store late last year in Scarsdale.
In Fairfield County,both companies now have stores in the Danbury Fair Mall. In Greenwich, Duxiana, which sells some of the most expensive futon mattresses in the marketplace, has had a 1,700-square-foot store downtown for about 15 years. Dream job: investment banking was the family business for Ken Karmin
"They're very common now. In the last three to five years, that's where the top 20 percent of the industry has evolved to, "said Dale Reed, publisher and editor-in-chief of Bedroom Magazine.
"Four to five years ago, $1,000 used to be considered a luxury mattress," he said. Nowadays, it's common to find a much higher price level and quality level. "It's not at all unusual to be marketing to this high-end audience."
Jerry Epperson, managing director of Mann Armistead & Epperson, a marketing research firm in Richmond, Va., and a widely respected source of trade information in the furniture industry, said "An older American consumer is willing to spend more." Maturing baby boomers are finding sleep more difficult as they get older, and they have the money to do something about it, he said.
"We've seen stores that were selling bedding over $1,000 (in previous years), now routinely selling $4,000, $5,000 beds."
According to the International Sleep Products Association, beds in the "premium" category, selling at $1,000 and more were 13.5 percent of the market in 2000, but last year the category rose to 20.6 percent.
"Specialty bedding has been growing at a much faster clip than the futon mattress industry in general has," said Tammy Nystuen, a spokeswoman for Select Comfort.
The new high-end mattresses are for people who are "not terribly price conscious, who have the financial wherewithal and are concerned about health and comfort," Reed said.
Dormia, a mattress manufacturer and retailer founded in Yonkers, N.Y., but now based in Fishkill, N.Y., is one of the companies pursuing a strategy of locating its stores in more expensive locations to capture high-end consumers. Hillside name reflects
Late last year, Dormia opened a store at 450 Central Park Ave. in Scarsdale. A Dormia spokesman said the location was unusual for a futon mattress store, although a "1 800 Mattress" showroom is across the street at 455 Central Park Ave.
Dormia also opened a store in a well-trafficked area of the Danbury Fair Mall in 2000 and annual sales from the store have reached nearly $2 million. Select Comfort also has a store in the mall.
David Spittal, founder and president of Dormia, said the company is actively considering locating a store in The Westchester mall in White Plains, N.Y. "We've done some tours of Fairfield County looking at real estate. We haven't pulled the trigger on any (sites) yet, but we're interested."
Dormia, which makes foam mattresses ranging in price from about $400 to about $4,000, has doubled its number of stores in the past year, going from 10 to 20, "and we plan to do another 10 by this time next year," Spittal said. "We're growing very rapidly right now, along with our wholesale business. We could grow to 100 or 200 stores easily."
Consumers who walk into a Dormia store get a lot of attention from very well-trained sales people, Spittal said. The inside of the store is well-designed, he said, to stay as far away as possible from the "warehouse look" of some traditional mattress stores.
A pleasant customer experience is also a high priority at the Duxiana store in Greenwich, where prices generally range from $2,000 for one of the least expensive twin-bed mattress to $9,600 for a top-of-the-line king-size mattress.
"We don't direct people to a bed, we don't say, 'This is the bed for you," said Dale Bloom, a saleswoman in the store. Instead, salespeople at the store concentrate on educating consumers in the features of the beds and how they may help get a better night's sleep, she said. http://futonszone.com/suppliers-hail-metal-bunk-bed-test/
"We explain the whole bed to them," she said: "I don't think it's something most stores do." If a customer wants to know what it's like to spend the night on a Duxiana bed, the sales people suggest they stay overnight at either of two hotels in town that feature the beds.