The Companies Changing the Way You Sleep
Mattress shopping used to involve lying awkwardly on dozens of questionably clean mattresses while a salesperson looked on impatiently, trying to keep track of countless subtle distinctions between options, paying a ton for delivery or truck rental, hefting the beast up two flights of stairs, and being stuck with a dud if your 5-minute impression in the store ended up being erroneous. Those days are OVER, at least according to the abundance of bed-in-a-box companies and direct-to-consumer bedding brands popping up; more options usually signal more competitive pricing and we can totally get aboard that notion.
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There’s an ever-increasing number of direct-to-consumer mattress companies, including Casper, Leesa, Tuft & Needle, Cocoon, Dream Bed, and there are a few things they all have in common: limited selections (usually just one mattress in 4 standard sizes), free shipping, compressed/boxed delivery for relatively easy maneuverability, and free returns within 100 or more days. Many have philanthropy built into their business models, whether they drop off returned mattresses at charities or donate one mattress for every one purchased.
How do they compare to more traditional mattresses and mattress stores, you might be thinking? A quick glance at Consumer Reports reveals that the general brand ratings for Sealy, Sealy Posturpedic, Serta, Tempur-Pedic, and Macy’s mattresses range from 46-79 (out of 100), while the bed-in-a-box companies hit above range from 61-79. But what about mattress-specific ratings? Thanks to sites like Sleep Like the Dead and Sleepoplis, who make mattress reviews their sole business, you can take a closer look.
On Sleep Like The Dead, the traditional in-store mattresses received owner satisfaction ratings of 65-81%, while the online options received 70-78% approval ratings. Over on Sleepopolis, beds-in-boxes scored As and Bs, while the only traditional mattress reviewed scored a B. The prices for those traditional mattresses were between $500-$2,599, with most above $1,000, and the online-only ones were priced $600-$995. The lower prices are generally claimed to reflect the money saved on showrooms and “middle men,” rather than a reduction in quality.
If you listen to podcasts, you know about Casper Mattress. The ubiquitous advertiser was founded by a medical school dropout and his designer/entrepreneur friends and was declared one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017 by Fast Company.
- Products: Mattresses, box springs, sheets, mattress protectors, bed frames, pillows, and dog mattresses
- Queen Mattress Price: $950
- Queen Sheets Price: $140
- Shipping: Free
- Delivery Time: 2-7 days, sometimes same-day in NYC, SF and L.A.
- Returns: Free within 100 days
- Can I check it out in person?: Yes, at 70+ West Elm stores
- Consumer Reports Rating: 79
Tuft & Needle has a dramatic yet vague graph illustrating how their apparently minimal markup compares to that of “big mattress.” They also describe their trademarked T&N Adaptive Foam as an innovative alternative to the latex, memory foam, springs, and egg crate foam of the past. That same Adaptive Foam is used in their pillow, which claims to be “universally comfortable, cool and responsive.” Returned mattresses are picked up and donated to local charities.
- Products: Mattresses, pillow
- Queen Mattress Price: $600
- Shipping: Free in contiguous U.S.
- Delivery Time: 1-4 days in contiguous U.S.
- Returns: Free within 100 days
- Can I check it out in person?: There are two stores in Arizona and one in SF
- Consumer Reports Rating: 74
Started by two people who had trouble buying mattresses and a friend with tons of experience in the mattress industry, Leesa specializes in made-to-order mattresses that are shipped compressed with a 100-day guarantee. From Leesa’s website: “The online store has been designed with the same eye to simplicity as our mattress. Since we’ve avoided the awkward showroom experience, we also have a lower cost structure. You’ll see that in our prices.” For every 10 mattresses purchased, 10 trees are planted and one mattress donated.
- Products: Mattresses, blanket
- Queen Mattress Price: $840
- Shipping: Free
- Delivery Time: 4-10 days
- Returns: Free within 100 days for mattresses, 30 days for blankets
- Can I check it out in person?: There is a store in NYC.
- Consumer Reports Rating: 68
Dreambed is the online arm of Mattress Firm, meaning you get the convenience of a bed-in-a-box company with the option of trying out the goods if there’s a Mattress Firm near you. Dreambeds take just a couple minutes to set up and an hour to expand, and one mattress is donated to charity for every one purchased.
- Products: Mattresses, pillows, and “Cool Dream” gel mattresses and pillows
- Queen Mattress Price: $829
- Shipping: Free 2-day shipping
- Delivery Time: Unknown; all are currently sold out
- Returns: Free within 180 days
- Can I check it out in person?: At Mattress Firm stores in seven cities nationwide
- Consumer Reports Rating: 61
There are quite a few new direct-to-consumer bedding companies as well, though the buying experience is nowhere near as dramatically different as that of the new mattress-buying experience. Purchasing sheets from Brooklinen or Boll & Branch is basically the same as buying them from Target or Macy’s—the difference lies in the companies’ assertion that their control of the supply chain allows them to offer luxury goods at a fraction of the usual cost. As someone who is quite content with her $30 Target sheets, I can’t help but raise my eyebrows at the $100-$420 sheet sets being touted as affordable. I suppose if you’re accustomed to paying $800 for a set of sheets and these companies provide the same qualityn at half the price, that could be considered a win.
Brooklinen claims, “By cutting out the middleman, we bypass costs like wholesaling, storefronts and designer licensing fees that have no bearing on quality. And we pass the savings on to you.” They offer sateen and percale sheets, all made with long-staple cotton, at a price range of $109-$149 for a queen set. The company also sells comforters, pillows, blankets, candles, and fabric care items.
According to a feature in Architectural Digest, “‘We control our entire supply chain,’ says cofounder and CEO Scott Tannen. ‘We are the first fair-trade home brand in the world, ensuring ethical practices are implemented throughout our entire supply chain while also minimizing our impact on the environment and ensuring that our products are toxin-free.’ Boll & Branch sheets, duvet covers, and towels are all organic cotton, and the fair-trade concept extends to pricing, with sets costing a third of what they would at a regular retail store.” Queen sheet sets range in price from $240 to $280, and towels, blankets, and scarves are also on offer.
Hill House was created, “with the intention of bringing a sumptuous hotel-bed experience to homes without an extortionate price tag,” according to Architectural Digest. The cotton for the sheets is grown in the U.S., while the sheets themselves are woven in Milan. The company says, “By selling directly online to the consumer, we eliminate the cost of the middleman and retail space, saving you money,” and queen sheet sets cost $400-$420. Hill House also offers duvets, duvet covers, and pajamas.