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Mattress Firm, 131 Harbison Boulevard Suite A: Fall 2018   19 comments

Posted at 11:36 pm in closing



Apart from all the conspiracy theories, apparently the ubiquitious Mattress Firm just thought that Nothing succeeds like excess. It's not always a terrible business model. For instance, if you see two Circle K stores located across from each other, the thought is that This is a busy intersection, and *somebody* is going to put a gas station across from us to catch cars going the other way -- it might as well be *us*.

It can be more problematic for something like mattresses, which aren't a convenience purchase, or as the Houston Chronicle puts it:

Why store-on-every-corner strategy didn’t work for Mattress Firm:

Mattress Firm, as it gobbled up rivals and tripled its store count to more than 3,300 locations, seemed to have a storefront on every block — sometimes two storefronts. In its quest to become the biggest player in the $15 billion U.S. bedding industry, it pursued a strategy of clustering shops close together with the aim of crowding out competition.

It didn’t work.

The Houston retailer said as much when it filed for bankruptcy Friday, acknowledging that it operates too many stores and plans to shutter as many as 700 locations as it tries to get out from under $3.2 billion in debt through its Chapter 11 filing, which allows companies to restructure operations and finances while protecting them from creditors.

“I think they’re humbled,” said Seth Basham, an analyst with Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities. “They grew far too fast with ambitions to be a national retailer.”

The Wall Street Journal has some more details including that the crisis is a world wide one in some sense:

The bankruptcy marks a rapid fall for the once high-flying bedding retailer and Steinhoff, the South Africa-based retail conglomerate that has been called “Africa’s IKEA.” Steinhoff, whose purchase of Mattress Firm marked its entry into the U.S. market, has been caught up in an accounting scandal that erupted in December. Its creditors, who hold billions of dollars of the company’s bonds, agreed to suspend all payments on its debt for three years. Steinhoff is expected to launch a debt restructuring for its European business in the U.K. later this month.

Commenter Andrew supplies a link that lists the South Carolina stores affected (so far). For the record, they are:

7381 Rivers Ave., Ste 102 Charleston SC
131 Harbison Blvd., Ste 100 Columbia SC
6208A Garners Ferry Road Columbia SC
106 Percival Road, Ste 100 Columbia SC
5075 Sunset Blvd Lexington SC
2391 Dave Lyle Blvd, Suite 106 Rock Hill SC

This particular store is next to Jimmy Johns, more or less near the top of the Harbison hill going towards Saint Andrews Road. As of yet, they have not posted any closing signage.

(Hat tip to commenter Andrew)

UPDATE 7 November 2018 -- Here you can see (poorly) that the store has been cleaned out:


Written by ted on October 10th, 2018

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19 Responses to 'Mattress Firm, 131 Harbison Boulevard Suite A: Fall 2018'

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  1. Too bad they chose the one on Garner's Ferry over the newer one on Divine in the Flood zone.

    Mr BO

    11 Oct 18 at 6:15 am

  2. Drove by this location yesterday. Looked as if they were loading inventory into a big box truck. If this location isn't already "Closed", it soon will be. They're not letting any grass grow under their feet on these closings.

    Lone Wolf

    11 Oct 18 at 8:19 am

  3. The one on Percival Road is the Petco shopping center. This will make 2 openings out of 4 (or 5) stores since Tijuana Flats already closed.


    11 Oct 18 at 9:10 am

  4. Maybe the Carriage House will reopen in the Percival rd location.



    11 Oct 18 at 12:11 pm

  5. For some reason, the one at Harbison Court (264 Harbison Blvd) didn't make the list (and I checked the list on the article linked in the main post) but that is the one I saw the liquidation signage on...the only thing I can say is that that one is closing on top of all the ones (so I figure each of them shall feature here in due course)...


    11 Oct 18 at 9:13 pm

  6. I used to work for Mattress Firm, so I could probably shed a little light on this stuff, as far as my experience goes.

    There should be two on Harbison that are closing. The first (pictured in the listing) is one of the oldest MF stores in Columbia which (after the store right off the highway opened) never saw much traffic due to sharing a parking lot with Jimmy Johns (Jimmy Johns drivers as well as their customers would fill up all available spaces), and it being hard to notice. So it would be too late to turn in by the time you saw it, and there was no place to park even if you did.

    The second is an outlet store that hadn't opened that long ago and sold old floor models and stuff. But since it was all old stock, the prices they were selling them for made that a place a net loss every month.

    I'm not surprised that the one on Garner's Ferry is closing, since they've been discussing closing it for years. You'd see like maybe one or two customers a day. The one across from McDonald's is fairly popular though. Never was a point in having two.

    The Lexington one was built because there was big plans for a shopping mall there, but that was abandoned and MF was stuck with the lone store. Still, it's funny it's shutting down since there's another store in Lexington that does worse, is smaller, much older, and looks crappier, but is staying open. Percival Road store has kinda the same story.

    I remember hearing about MF bringing forward a lawsuit against corrupt former contractors or something that had given bribes to get certain execs to rapidly expand against common sense. I was thinking "That sounds about right". Then I heard the contractor was counter-suing claiming what they're accusing is true, but MF was totally in on it and encouraged that behavior from the top down. I remember thinking "That sounds even more right".

    All this is to say, the people working at these stores aren't as shady as their owners... or at least not any more than any other place you go to. It's really a case-by-case basis. Which isn't a great compliment, but it's honest. I imagine most people look at this news and go "I KNEW they were shady! I'm going to go to this mom & pop place/online bed-in-a-box/sleep-number store instead!" However, I've got bad news for you.

    Mattress Firm sucks, I worked there and I know. Local places suck just as much if not more. They pull MUCH shadier stuff to try to out-do bigger stores, specifically because they're desperate and know there'll be less blowback if it bites them later. If a customer of a large company is upset, the parent company says "Give them whatever they want regardless of who's in the wrong", where the local places can and will say "Get off my property, or I'm calling the police".

    The bed-in-a-box Ghostbed/Casper/Tuft & Needle/Nectar/Purple/+100 stuff is weird. Their talking point is technology, which is bunk because most of the ones I've had to research were made out of the lower-midgrade materials, which is to say high enough quality to not feel like crap, but low enough that it breaks down super quick, and thin enough that it will destroy your back if you sleep on your side. They also are the biggest proponents of "accuse your enemy of what you're actually doing", and also make a more difficult return process. They're pretty much like any startup company that has only one product, and can market it much better than it can perform.

    This all sounds pretty pessimistic, and it is, because mattresses are necessary items, and you're going to get screwed one way or another.

    Advice from someone who worked in mattress sales and will never work in sales for the rest of their life:

    Price -
    Are they overpriced? Hell yes. Absolutely. Everywhere. No exceptions. If you have trouble sleeping, expect to pay $1500-3000 to get a good night's sleep consistently for 8-10 years. That price range sucks, and might change someday, but it's not someday yet.

    I remember having multiple people weekly say "I'm not paying no $300-400 for a BED. I know someplace that'll give me king size for $200!" Great. Enjoy. If you found a great deal, you are probably getting ripped off somewhere. Comfort, longevity, warranty, ability to return. Somewhere. Again, no exceptions.

    "My brother's friend's cousin got a $700 mattress and it's lasted 50 years!". I love anecdotes. My grandmother smoked 10 packs a day and lived to be 110. Smoking is now good for you, I guess!

    Is the price worth it? I honestly slept about 2-4 hours a night with backpain before I got a good one. If that ain't you and you can sleep on a rock, rocks aren't very expensive. Under $1500, it's either going to be comfy but not last long, or last long but be uncomfortable. Over $3000, you're probably paying for extra space, extra cooling, an adjustable base, or something you probably don't need. Full disclosure: I have an adjustable base, and I LOVE it, but I definitely don't need it. I just love playing video games in bed.

    Comfort -
    You have the money? That's only part of the equation. Everybody's different. There's no one-size-fits-all. You can spend $3000 on the wrong mattress. You need to try it out for a few weeks to let your back get adjusted to it. Took me a month before I slept the whole night through, but I've had my mattress for about five years now and wouldn't know what to do without it. It's paramount that you buy from a place that has a no-hassle return or exchange policy. Every salesman is going to be disappointed if you return, but if they have a very liberal return policy, they have a much bigger stake in you finding a mattress you sleep well on, or else they don't get paid. If you switch out a bunch of times and your back still hurts, return the mattress and spend that money at a doctor.

    If you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer. Thanks for listening to my TED talk.

    Mattress Boy

    13 Oct 18 at 12:14 pm

  7. Great post Mattress Boy - Thanks


    13 Oct 18 at 1:49 pm

  8. When I see MF, Mattress Firm isn't the first thing I think of, lmao!


    15 Oct 18 at 7:56 am

  9. Now that I got past the MF part, that was a great write up. You sound like you must have been a District Manager to know about all the stores. Either way, thanks for the write up.


    15 Oct 18 at 8:03 am

  10. Great post Mattress Boy, maybe you can confirm a theory that I have had for awhile about mattresses. The big mattress companies change the product names depending on what store sells them. It seems impossible to compare apples to apples when shopping for a mattress.

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the "Mattress Firm Conspiracy", check out this episode from the Household Name Podcast:


    15 Oct 18 at 12:02 pm

  11. Yeah, that was a good write-up about those MF stores. You never know what all goes behind the scenes in some of these MF stores.

    (I'm reading this and hearing Samuel L. Jackson's voice.)


    15 Oct 18 at 12:03 pm

  12. Just realized that ted linked to the Endless Thread podcast that I think the podcast I mentioned was based off of. Both are good.


    15 Oct 18 at 12:04 pm

  13. Well folks, the MattressFirm at Harbison Court (which is a different one than the one profiled in this post) that I mentioned in a previous comment on this page has already closed up shop and vacated its space...


    15 Oct 18 at 9:26 pm

  14. Mattress manufacturers are having a tough go right now with Mattress Firm and Sears going out of business. I always bought my mattresses and box springs from Sears since I have been buying them for myself and family.


    16 Oct 18 at 1:50 pm

  15. I got my first matching set of Grrranimals and Toughskins from Sears as a kid. The Sears and Penney's catalogs are where I put my Christmas wish list together for Santa and it was long. I used to take my car to the Service center and was always satisfied with the work. I am a Craftsman and Kenmore and DieHard diehard even though they are owned, or manufactured by other brands now. Eddie Lampert did a Gordon Gecko on Sears Holding and ran it straight into the ground after a slow bleed even though he said he did all he could. Leverage, debt, Land's End, etc. Should have sold everything else, but the core brands of Craftsman, Die-Hard, and Kenmore and become a mall hardware store.


    16 Oct 18 at 3:27 pm

  16. @Sidney

    That can easily be confirmed. It's actually not a conspiracy. Manufacturers are pretty open about doing that. They send the same mattress to different places with maybe 10% more springs or a little extra cooling feature or edge support and call it something different so each place can say theirs is exclusive, because technically, it is. Is the extra feature worth the difference? Usually not. All mattress stores online, local, or big-box, are all pulling the same tricks together, so they know they can accuse one another of it, because they all do it. It's like Wacky Races where they're all racing and cheating at the same time.

    The explanation for why they were able to stay in business for so long is pretty simple actually. When mattresses (or any products, really) are sold, the manufacturers give the retailer a suggested price. The retailer, however, will sell it for either slightly less than their competitors are selling for or higher with added benefits (free delivery, pillow etc). When the salesmen is working out a deal for a customer, they can look up the "cost" on the product (the amount the company bought it from the manufacturer for) and negotiate how much they'll sell it for between the retailer's listed price and the cost. The salesmen will usually get 5-10% of the difference.

    Here's where it gets interesting: Say the suggested price for a mattress is $3000, and the company tells the salesman that the cost is $1900. The closer to the cost the salesman sells it for the closer to $0 the salesman makes. Funny thing: that cost amount the company gives the salesman is bull****. They probably actually bought it from the manufacturer for closer to $600. Maybe even less. So essentially, they're lying to both the customer and the salesman, and let them duke it out to see if the salesmen will be able to feed his kids or the customer will get a great deal, when really the company makes tons of money either way. Guess what? So far, this is totally legal, and every big-box, mom & pop, and online company does this.

    So with all this money they're making, they still have to pay a bunch of costs like any other retailer for a product like Starbucks or a car lot, right? Well, it's SUPER cheap to run a mattress store. Outside the product, you pay rent, advertising, one or two employees per store a day, and the warehouse for deliveries. Food companies have tons of expensive equipment that needs constant maintenance, perishable ingredients, tons of employees. Car sales have tons of regulations and the like. Mattresses don't have any of that stuff.

    So if you wondered why you've seen a bunch of online mattress startups lately, it's because they found that they can make even MORE money super quick by using the same paradigm, but without having to pay rent, employees to run the stores, and only one product rather than provide a selection. They're not selling anything for any cheaper than other places do. No one is forcing the prices of mattresses down, and they're difficult to compare since comfort is subjective, so online places can claim they're selling a $3,000 mattress for $700 when really other places sell the equivalent for the same or less. It doesn't matter, because the "other guys" are the evil, where the online place eliminates the middle man to save you money, lol.

    So, anyway that's how MF stayed in business. However, why they're tanking right now is a different reason entirely. A few years ago (when I started) Mattress Firm as a company was growing and doing well, so they decided to go public to make even more money. Shareholders see a company that isn't growing as a failure, so Mattress Firm went the route of "Buy out or crush the competition". They pretended they had more money than they did, and started buying up all their competition.

    In any situation (government/business/D&D group), having a leader with strong moral ethics is more important than you'd think, because generally your community is highly influenced by that. Unfortunately, sales in general is a very alpha-dog environment from top to bottom, where your boss will f*** you over and make you thank them for it. The higher up you were the more you were screwing over the dude below you, and eventually what happened was a series of CEOs and execs who would make a bunch of decisions that would make quick money, but would also quickly screw over the entire company, but by the time that happened they'd be gone with the money and little to no repercussions. Due to instilling a culture of "seeing how much you can get away with", each time an exec ran off with some money, the person replacing them shifted all the blame to the last guy while secretly planning to do the same, and the cycle repeated, until there was either no more money or they started getting caught.

    In other words: Each time s*** hit the fan, the execs at the company who were apologizing and dealing with the fallout had no part in the problem's creation, but were now so deep into the corrupt culture that they were just as mad at the last guy as they were jealous, and tried to find a way to "get theirs".

    The reason there were so many Mattress Firms, was in part due to buying all the competition and having to run out the leases for the old stores. The other part was just another set of bribes to a couple execs in cahoots with a contracting company to convince the company that building more stores was the answer to getting a higher market share, when in reality it did the opposite, but they could take all their bribes and dip before the consequences caught up to the company (Bankruptcy). You'd think that some execs would have challenged that assessment, when it seemed like a stupid idea, but (again) alpha-dogs.

    Mattress Boy

    19 Oct 18 at 12:22 pm

  17. Remember mattress place beside Backpacker - then across from Chic-Fil-A in 5 Pts? I got nice top of the line mattresses there and they smelled like rats inside after a few years. The other headboard and railing and footboard faux leather was emitting the most noxious gasses that made me very ill for six months before I finally realized where it was coming from. Have you ever heard of them covering old mattresses that had been infested with rats with new cloths and tacking to look and sell as new?


    19 Oct 18 at 5:35 pm

  18. That's the first I've ever heard of something like that! To do that, the retailer would have to have their own mattress factory, and even if that were the case, it sounds like it'd be cheaper to make a new one than to go through all that trouble. Sounds super gross though!

    Mattress Boy

    19 Oct 18 at 8:02 pm

  19. This MattressFirm closure is complete as is the one at Harbison Court (which I figure will feature here in due course) taking Harbison Boulevard from 3 to 1 MattressFirm locaitons...


    22 Oct 18 at 4:11 pm

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