Early in the pandemic, Matt Freeman, co-owner of Sierra Mattress Company in Reno, helped a customer who had a unique reason for buying a new mattress. “He wanted to set it up in his living room because that was going to be his new work-from-home spot,” Freeman said. “We started seeing those types of customers that were putting mattresses in living rooms instead of couches.” Tucked into the ever-evolving WFH movement since spring 2020, some Northern Nevadans have been emailing and spreadsheeting from their beds, watching an influx of Netflix in the sack and, in general, spending more time in the comfort of their own home. That’s propelled many in Reno-Sparks and beyond to enhance their comfort by upgrading their mattress. As a result, retailers are experiencing a bounce in business — mattress sales increased by more than 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a USA Today report, citing mattress industry analyst Jerry Epperson. Despite being shut down most of last spring and operating as appointment-only for half of 2020, Sierra Mattress Company saw a 5% revenue uptick last year compared to 2019, said co-owner Tony Gurule. Helping matters, the company consolidated operations last fall, moving out of its two retail shops and warehouse into an 8,000-square-foot facility at 6550 Longley Lane, where its store and warehouse are housed. Appointments were so effective, the owners said, the company didn’t need to rely on foot traffic in two locations. “We saw appointments working great, because it’s kind of a personal product that people might want to lie on and not feel rushed,” Freeman said. “People like the personal time with somebody answering questions and whatnot. So, our close rate was better.” CANCELED VACATIONS, CALIFORNIA MIGRATIONS
In 2021, the mattress retailer’s close rate has kept the pace. In the first quarter, Sierra Mattress was up 12% compared to the same period a year ago, Gurule said. “We’re having a banner year — the best year we’ve ever had,” said Gurule, who opened the store with Freeman in 2015. Gurule noted that demand has also been driven by people who canceled travel plans and wanted to improve the comfort level of their staycations.
A look inside Sierra Mattress Company in Reno on May 25. Photo: Kaleb M. Roedel
“People were doing more home improvements and spending more time on their mattress,” Gurule said. “People were saying, ‘let’s spoil ourselves, let’s get a new mattress.’ Things like that really helped our business and the mattress industry.”
So has the influx of people — namely, those from the Golden State — migrating to Reno-Sparks and scooping up new homes. “We’re still getting those customers who are like, ‘I’m moving out of California and I’m moving into a new house next week, so I need a mattress,’” Freeman said. “I’m grateful that we’re in an area that’s shown massive growth because that’s helped our business during that iffy time.” Gurule estimated “one out of every six or seven people” who walks into Sierra Mattress Company is a California resident who recently moved into the region. SPRINGING FOR UPGRADES What’s more, Gurule said the federal stimulus checks pushed many new customers who “normally couldn’t afford such a large purchase” into buying a new mattress from their store. The company offers mattresses ranging from $1,200 to $4,000. Over the past calendar year, the store has seen an average sales price of $2,000, Gurule said. “A lot of people that are living paycheck to paycheck, when they got a big $1,400 windfall, guess what? They can afford to buy a new mattress that they’ve been wanting to buy but haven’t been able to afford,” said Gurule, noting that pre-pandemic, Sierra Mattress Company’s sales largely came from upper-middle class and wealthy customers. “We have a certain clientele that we rely on, but when you get those extras, it just adds revenue that we probably wouldn’t have gotten.” The stimulus checks, Freeman feels, also prompted many shoppers to spring for upgrades, such as adjustable bases. These products, Freeman said, are operated electronically and allow people to raise and lower sections of the mattress so they can sit upright in bed. “With the first stimulus, they got the new mattress,” Freeman said. “With the second stimulus, they got the adjustable base.”
HOPING TO BOUNCE BACK Not all mattress retailers in Northern Nevada, however, have seen a revenue boost. Carson City Mattress Outlet saw its sales drop 20% last year, said owner Chaz Feilen. “I didn’t really see more of a demand,” Feilen told the NNBW. “I think people feared going into public spaces and going out shopping.” To cater to cooped-up customers, the company overhauled its online store to make it easier to browse and buy a mattress from home. The move worked, Feilen said. Pre-COVID, the store had seen only “three or four” online sales in the past five years. In 2020, online orders accounted for 10% of the store’s sales, and have only grown this year. “We’ve had 18 (online) sales in the last two months,” Feilen said. “We had to focus on revamping our website and pushing our website, so that people know that they can even purchase the products.” With mask mandates decreased and capacities increased, Feilen expects his shop at 1202 N. Carson St. will see more foot traffic moving forward. Moreover, he thinks people going back to the office and spending more time out of the house may start to value the importance of having a quality mattress. “It’s unfortunate, a lot of people don’t realize the importance of sleep in their health,” Feilen said. “They kind of brush it off and it gets blanketed by the other stuff in their life, unless it’s a severe issue or waking up with a bad back or something like that. “But, actually having your body in a good position to where you can effectively recharge your batteries, that’s the difference between having a quality mattress versus getting by with hand-me-downs while dealing with the daily stresses.”