2021: A Year of Reimagining


To find success during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, bedding retailers need a fresh start to spark business

The word of 2020, according to the wordsmiths at Merriam-Webster, was “pandemic.” That word, which we all have heard every day for months, was looked up 1,621% more last year than in the previous year, the company said on its website in December.

Dave Perry
Editor at large

We’ve all been talking about the pandemic and its impacts on the mattress business from the moment late last winter when we heard about the emergence of the coronavirus — a word that was searched 162,551% more last year than in the previous year, Merriam-Webster says.

As we embark on a new year, I want to talk about another word that received some traction last year: reimagine. I would like to propose that our industry undertakes to make “reimagine” its word of the year in 2021. That is how we are going to find success in challenging times.

As you probably realize as you read this column in Sleep Savvy, where I make my first appearance as the new editor at large for the magazine, I am doing some reimagining of my own this year.

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined the editorial team of the International Sleep Products Association and will be writing for both Sleep Savvy and BedTimes. I also will be an ambassador for the publications, and I will support ISPA’s leadership team in delivering key marketing messages to the industry.

My new platform at ISPA gives me a broad opportunity to share my reporting and insights with bedding leaders across the country and around the world. And I will be directly supporting a cause championed by the Better Sleep Council, ISPA’s consumer education arm, that I have long been passionate about: educating the industry about the importance of better sleep and the role it plays in a healthy life.

I don’t think I need to make too much of an introduction to Sleep Savvy’s readers, as I’ve been reporting on the mattress industry since the mid-1980s, when I was a fledgling writer for Furniture Today. All told, I spent 37 years at Furniture Today, with about 25 of those years, including the past 19, devoted to covering the mattress industry. I also launched Furniture Today’s Bedding Conference, which wrapped up its 15th edition last year with a successful virtual event.

That was a great run at Furniture Today, but I’m re-energized as I reimagine my career at ISPA, an association that I’ve been impressed with for many years. Led by President Ryan Trainer, ISPA has a strong team of industry veterans, several of whom previously worked at Furniture Today, by the way. I have a good connection to this dynamic team and am excited to bring my passion for the industry to ISPA.

Like Gold Bond President Robert Naboicheck, I was born in Hartford, Connecticut, some time ago. My dad worked for IBM (which used to stand for “I’ve Been Moved”), and my family moved to Rochester, Minnesota, and later to Raleigh, North Carolina — two cities where IBM had plants. I’ve been in the South since 1965, but my wife, Karen, who was born in South Carolina, declares that I still am a Yankee. I fear she may be right. Y’all OK with that?

We’ve lived in the Furniture Capital of the World (that is High Point, North Carolina, for the uninitiated) since 1976. Yes, there is life in High Point between furniture markets.

One of my first assignments for Sleep Savvy is to report on a big consumer survey conducted by the BSC. It is full of insights for bedding retailers, including fascinating snapshots of how the Covid-19 pandemic (there’s that word again) has changed consumers’ views on mattresses. Did you know that very soft mattresses have gained ground as consumers hunker down at home? See my first report on that BSC survey on page 19 in this issue.

I look forward to connecting with my many industry friends as the newest member of Team ISPA. And let me know how you are reimagining your bedding business this year.