March 8

Mattress Side

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Underdogs, something strange is going on in the world of mattress sales. That’s right, the big soft things that many people in the world sleep on have thier own theory. For the last several years, social media has been buzzing about mattress stores with locations all over the place. Not just a few, but many to a block. More so than any one town would ever need in some people’s opinion. The theory on the internet is about Mattress Firm, but this could realistically be expanded into any mattress store. What is the big deal, you may ask? How about you take a moment and Google mattress stores in the city closest to you in the Untied States. Make sure you are using Google Maps. Go ahead, I will wait. Are you surprised by the number of stores that are around you? Why in the world does there need to be more Mattress Stores than Starbucks? There are 9 close to me, some of which are almost on top of each other! It’s not like people are buying them at the rate of a coffee or their groceries. Is there something strange going on here such as mattress stores being a front for something else, or is it just business as usual?

 

One of the biggest factors of this whole mattress theory is not only the number of stores, but how some of them appear to be almost completely dead. This means that people who live, drive by, or work around these mattress stores hardly ever see any customers coming in and out of the building. That, along with the fact that many other furniture stores carry mattress, it is hard to understand how these are profitable business that are running efficiently enough to warrant so many locations. Several people have claimed that they have gone to visit some of stores and either no one is there, or there is a literally empty store. Sometimes, they will find one or two items with a very dirty floor, and walls falling down. It not only seems strange, but unnerving. Why would someone have a fake store front in almost every major city across the United States?

People are suggesting that this is a money laundering scheme. If you aren’t familiar with the term, money laundering is concealing money that is made through an illegal way, and filtering it through a legitimate business. This is a practice that has been done for years, so it it wouldn’t be a shock to anyone if mattress companies were being used as a front. With their prime locations, what better way to hide than in plain sight. It is very strange to think about how many of these stores are around, and how no one sees the demand for the hundreds of thousands of mattresses. What is going on here? It doesn’t help to know that the parent company of Mattress Firm, Steinhoff, has gotten into some trouble recently. They have been unable to account for their money for the past year. They have turned quite a profit even though their stock went down 62 points in a single day. This would be a major setback that would kill most other businesses.

While many people are only considering this to just a money laundering scheme, there may be something so much worse going on here. What if these hundreds of mattress stores in every major city around the United State are a front, but not for what people think. What if they are a front for human trafficking? Human trafficking is a major problem that can be considered an epidemic. However, many people in the United States don’t know about it, or refuse to see the terrible truth of the matter. If you don’t know what human trafficking is, let me explain. It is the illegal moment of people for forced labor, or forced sexual deeds. It is slavery that is very much alive today, and one of the biggest money makers out there for terrible, horrible, awful people who deserve to burn. Children are the main victims, and many kidnapped victims that don’t have a strong lead are theorized to have gotten sold into trafficking. These mattress stores have two major things going for them, which is the locations, and the space. It is so easy to gather people in every city and keep them in places like this all the cover of a real and thriving business. Am I saying this is what is actually happening here? No, however it can be considered a reasonable argument.  Let’s take a look at what people are presenting as counter arguments.

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Business people will point out a few very logical things. First is that most people are generally optimistic. If you want to expand your business, then you open more locations in the guise that you are doing better than what you seem. This creates a thought that they are doing great, so they may actually do well in their business adventure. Some big cities like New York and Chicago are a real estate nightmare. But, they may offer a package deal of several bad location, in order to get a really good location. This means in order to get one great location, you need to buy 3 more in terrible locations. It’s worth the cost to do this.However, this is only typically true in very big cities and not the average sized one. If these other stores don’t work out, then at least they are advertisement for the company! Some mattress companies also have deals with a warehouses that have the store displaying the items only, and not paying for the product at all until a purchase by a customer is made. This could lead to having many mattresses in a store that are actually costing the store owners very little. One other item that I agree with is that mattresses are not an internet item. Yes, you can purchase a mattress online, but this is one product that can be said that the store front beats online the majority of the time. I would never make a purchase like a mattress online without trying it out first. Most people have that same thought process.

Of course, all of this could just be hog wash. If you look at the number of people in the United States it is around 330 million people. If you go by that number alone, and figure that the recommended amount to get a brand new mattress is every 8 to 10 years, then it would seem as though there aren’t enough mattress stores! This is an argument that many people are presenting. While I understand that is a large number, let’s break it down a little more. I’m not good at math, but I am going to guess a few things here that will lessen this number, and the amount of stores we should have.

First, not every single person owns a mattress or even uses one.  Let’s figure that children under the age of 2 are sleeping in a crib. It’s estimated that 23 million people are under the age of two and not using mattresses. 50 million people are estimated to be in poverty, not counting children under the age of two. That brings down that original number a lot of those who are in the market for a new mattress. 3.5 million people are reported to be homeless, although that number is most likely higher. Also, take into consideration that 2. million people get married each year, and many couples who live together share a bed. That will also bring that number of people purchasing mattresses way down. I also want to point out that very few people are purchasing mattresses at the recommended time frame that the should. I am an adult, and I have bought 1 new mattress in my entire life. I should have purchased more. I also know the purchasing habits of my friends and I can tell you, not a single one of them have purchased a new mattress every 8 to 10 years. More companies are also coming out with mattresses that last longer, such as 20 or 30 years. When my Mom moved, she purchased one of these mattresses. In theory, Mom should never have to purchase another mattress again. Unless she lives to be over 100, which would be awesome! The numbers just aren’t making sense to me.

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The other argument is that even though these companies may not be selling as many mattresses as one thinks, there is a lot of mark up with every single purchase.  For example, let’s look at a cup of coffee. The average cup of coffee is cents on the dollar. The mark up of getting a cup of coffee at a shop can be over 100% mark up. A mattress may only cost $100.00 to make, but they can charge $1000 easily. In theory, the store would only have to sell a few mattresses a month to keep afloat. It is hard to see how this possible because on average these areas are renting their location. They have the cost of the rent, the insurance, the inventory, the electricity, and all other bills associated with a business before even having to pay their employees. Selling a few mattresses a month would not be enough to keep a business afloat, let alone warrant several locations right next to each other. This is a lot of direct competition with one another. This isn’t even taking into consideration how many bigger stores like Macy’s sell mattresses themselves.

While there are some logical arguments on both sides, it is not hard to recognize that something seems off. There are a lot of mattress locations. Many of which are in smaller towns that are struggling to make any sort of business work. It is so odd, but it could be due to the business reasons listed above. Or, it really could be a front for something very illegal. No matter what, it is important to not go crazy and accuse anyone of anything. These are all theories. However, human trafficking is very real. I am going to leave a link here from the website called THORN. The goal of this site is to use technology to stop human trafficking and help exploited children. They work with law enforcement to help this successful project along. There is a donation button, so please consider donating. IF you can’t, then do the next best thing, which is to educate yourself and share the link. Please check out THORN today. https://www.wearethorn.org/

 

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