COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HELP ME UNCOVER THE GREAT MATTRESS STORE PROLIFERATION PLOT “There has got to be some kind of conspiracy going on. There is never anyone in any of their locations or Mattress Firm at any time of day except the person that works there. There are 2 Mattress 1 One locations right across the street from each other at Richmond and 610. Anywhere there is a Starbucks, there is a mattress store very close by. I have no knowledge of anyone, or anyone that knows anyone that has purchased a mattress from either of these two stores. Someone please explain how and why.” [Eric, commenting on A Mattress Store Has Closed in Montrose; previously on Swamplot] Photo of adjacent Mattress Firms on Westheimer at Montrose: Swamplot inbox
An intrepid mattress-store-monitoring reader notes that the Mattress 1 One (yeah, that’s how the company spells it out) in the northernmost spot of the strip center at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama across from CVS has closed down. Desperate mattress seekers need not worry, though: Plenty more outlets are available to pick up the slack. A note taped to the front door of the spot at 3101 S. Shepherd Dr., which despite the prominently placed Kensinger Donnelly FOR LEASE signs on the space insists that the location is only “closed for renovation,” directs would-be customers to the chain’s nearest still-open store: a full 3 blocks north on Shepherd, just south of Westheimer.
If that location doesn’t work for you, the Texas-and-Florida mattress chain lists a total of 16 Mattress 1 One locations within a 5-mile radius — though that includes the still-listed Shepherd-and-Alabama spot. And don’t forget competitor Mattress Firm, which has 18 locations of its own within that same area.
“The movie finally makes a reasonable amount of sense now” after 4 years of work on it, writes producer Joseph Graham on the Indiegogo fundraising page for Nothing Really Happens, a new independent feature film from local production company The Monster Closet. What is this filmed-in-Houston movie about? It’s not entirely clear from the trailer. If you blink a couple times in the middle of it though, you’ll miss a couple of images from a scene filmed at the Wind Chimes Shopping Center on Westheimer at Eldridge, where a vacant storefront was apparently dressed up as a locked-up mattress store for filming. A notice posted to the front of the shuttered shop from a Houston “Department of Health” flashes by too fast, but if you freeze-frame it the words on the official-looking document may — or may not — help a little bit to explain the movie’s plot (emphasis in the original):
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Great Moments in Houston Cinema
CONN’S SLOWS GROWTH, LOOKS TO SQUEEZE MORE FROM DEBT COLLECTION, MATTRESSES Previously investigated home appliance and furniture retailer Conn’s is slowing down on plans to add new stores in the wake of the quarterly net losses announced yesterday, Mike D. Smith writes this afternoon. The Woodlands-based national chain (which has about 20 Houston area locations and 55 in Texas) has scaled back expansion plans to adding just 3 stores next fiscal year, despite grander talk last December. Among the initiatives in the works to boost profits: pushing the store’s mix of goods toward more higher-margin items like furniture and mattresses. Also on the list: boosting customers’ interest rates on in-house loans repayments and adding more months to payback plans. National retail consultant Howard Davidowitz tells Smith that both ideas look like steps toward a more sustainable business model for the company (which has been threatened with a class action lawsuit by its investors for allegedly hiding profit losses caused by targeting customers with lower credit scores): “The reality is, that’s how people live,” Davidowitz said. “The question is, ‘How much am I paying every month?’ And that’s going to determine in their minds whether they can afford it.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Conn’s at 11051 Hwy. 290 in Spring Branch: Conn’s
A PORTRAIT OF THE SLEEPY WORK LIFE OF THE MATTRESS SALESPERSON James Haynes takes a look this afternoon at the other side of the mattress retail expansion equation that has led to the 9-stores-in-11-blocks Rice Village mattress district and other high-mattress-density landscapes around Houston: the salespeople who may work a full 10-hour shift alone with no customers. While employees can spend part of that time on tasks like cleaning, inventory, advertising, or sharpening their mattress expertise, Haynes writes that its still usually the case that “Houston’s mattress salesforce spend hours upon hours with nothing to do but wait for customers to appear. At the Urban Mattress store on Kirby, [part time mattress salesman Rick Goulding runs a contracting business — on the three days of the week when he’s not at the mattress store, he makes site visits. Then, during the quiet hours at the store, he works on inspection reports, writes descriptions for photos and sends e-mails. Without anything to do, he says, the job can put many store managers to sleep. Literally. ‘One of the first weekends I was here by myself… there was one bed I really liked, and I was lying on there, not much happening,’ Goulding remembers. ‘I laid back there and was almost asleep when the front door opened.’” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of mattress stores on Kirby Dr.: Swamplot inbox
UTAH’S MALAWI’S PIZZA TO PLANT FAKE TREE NEXT TO DOUBLE MATTRESS FIRM IN SIENNA PLANTATION Malawi’s Pizza (which currently has 3 locations sprinkled along a stretch of northern Utah between Salt Lake City and Provo) is planning the first of some 20 Houston-area locations, writes Katherine Feser. The fast-casual-with-fine-china chain’s main shtick, other than the life-size acacia tree model in each restaurant? The company says it donates nutritional supplements and allotments of grain to folks in Malawi in proportion to the number of pizzas sold each month. The first Houston spot is planned for 8731 Highway 6 Center (a new retail strip immediately west of the double Mattress Firm on Highway 6) in Missouri City. Another location may be on the way to Central Square in Midtown; the company says it hopes to open 4 Houston-area locations by the end of 2017, while also expanding to Dallas and Virginia. [Houston Chronicle] Rendering of Highway 6 Center: Hunington Properties
Former Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner (now swapped to executive chairman status) told investors yesterday that the increasingly ubiquitous bedding retailer is now planning to identify “duplicative” stores and shut them down, even potentially paying fees to break some leases early. The tactical reversal comes after last year’s rebranding of Mattress Firm’s Mattress Pro subsidiary as additional Mattress Firms, leaving even more Mattress Firm storefronts in even closer proximity than before (including the side-by-side-but-independent storefronts at the corner of Westheimer Rd. and Montrose Blvd., pictured above). Mattress Firm also recently purchased its largest national competitor, Sleepy’s; Bloomberg reports that the purchase brought Houston-based Mattress Firm’s total holdings to about 3,500 retail stores and 80 distribution centers across 48 states.
How many stores will close, and when? Mattress Firm will release the numbers (and the expected closure costs) after it wraps up a portfolio review; the plan is to start shutting underperforming doors within the fiscal year. Mattress Firm currently lists 147 Mattress Firm-branded storefronts between The Woodlands and Lake Jackson.
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Mattress Plan Recall
Semi-boutique mattress chain Urban Mattress has jumped into the cluster of mattress retail options at the edge of West University, setting up shop between Einstein Bros. Bagels and Verizon Wireless just south of the sleepy corner of Kirby Dr. and Bissonnet St. Since 2008, the Boulder-grown franchise chain has opened 6 stores in Colorado, 3 in Austin, and a few others in cities including Berkeley, Albuquerque, Dallas, and San Antonio. The company purports to send 2% of its sales price to local charities of the franchise owner’s choice, and offers mattresses (both regular and organic) ranging from about $300 to $30,000.
The new store sits right across Wroxton St. from a few of its all-caps competitors: mattress and ergonomic furniture store Relax the Back is buffered from a Mattress Firm by narrow custom shoe store Foot Solutions:
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Bouncing into the Market
The strip mall at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose now sports two “Mattress Firm” storefronts right next door to one another, operating independently. The western Mattress Firm, on the right in the photo above, has been converted from a Mattress Pro through the subtle but definitive application of a small banner, filling the gap left by the removal of the word “Pro”. All Mattress Pro stores had until November 6th to convert signage, following a mid-September announcement that Mattress Firm would be discontinuing the subsidiary brand.
What exactly has changed? Not the Mattress Pro logo, which still bounces along in contrast to Mattress Firm’s aggressive yellow swipe. The relabeled store, now styled as a Mattress Firm: Final Markdown facility, will sell Mattress Firm products at a bargain-bin discount, while the regular Mattress Firm next door will continue to sell those products at full price.
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