In the city, businesses come and go. One restaurant is replaced with another. The pet store becomes a phone store. Some turnover sparks new construction – a frenzy of demolition followed by a shiny new structure. Another business stands empty for along time, dusty windows making a sad face on the block. Until one day it’s turned into a mattress store. As if the body snatchers came in the night, hauling box springs, memory foam, and pillow tops.
Stroll through any neighborhood and you’ll see one or more of these mattress stores. Oddly, they all appear empty. Unlike the TV ads where families romp through the showroom bouncing on beds, these stores never have any customers, or any employees that I can see. What exactly is going on in there? How do they stay in business when there seems to be so much competition? Ads for mattresses you can order online invade my podcasts, and are papered all over the train stations. One company stresses that you should buy a mattress every eight years – I guess this is one way to pump up demand. And bedbug scares probably have a lot of people thinking that the best offense is to get a brand new mattress.
We have had our mattress for over 25 years. I’m not sure if I should feel proud and frugal, or ashamed. It’s comfortable, doesn’t sag, and is the bed I look forward to after traveling. If I wake up with any aches, it’s more likely attributed to what I did at the gym than any fault of the mattress. Other than the proliferation of stores and their ads, the one thing that reminds me of our mattress’ age is its size. Pawing through mountains of Queen and King-size linens, it’s clear that “double”-sized sheets are in the minority. But I like the size, and the bed leaves room for other furniture in our bedroom.
And yet, I’m fascinated with the idea of a new mattress. Luxurious, covered in high thread-count sheets, adjusting to keep my spine straight, and even bending to support upright nighttime reading. I think I’m afraid to replace our mattress – either because it might not be as comfortable, or it might require a second mortgage. But January is the month of white sales, so maybe mattresses go on sale too. And unless it’s a portal to another dimension, I may even visit the mattress store at the corner.