This year, the International Sleep Products Association, which publishes Sleep Savvy, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The research team poring over old documents for a series of articles in our sister publication BedTimes has come across a trove of trivia and trends about mattress retailing that we know you’ll enjoy, too. Here we look at some fascinating items from the period 1915 to 1940.
A WINDOW INTO THE WORLD OF BEDDING
It’s not enough to advertise your great selection of bedding products, you need to excite consumers from the moment they arrive at the store—and that means attractive window displays. It’s true today and it was true nearly a century ago. An article in the July 1924 issue of industry magazine The National Bedding Manufacturer (later shortened to The Bedding Manufacturer) applauded Peoples Furniture Co. in Paragould, Arkansas, for putting bedding at the windowed-forefront of its store with this striking display.
THE POWER OF PROMOTIONS
Even during the Great Depression, advertising paid. An article in The Bedding Manufacturer magazine in October 1931 looked at mattress sales over two months at an unidentified department store. One month the store ran specific promotions for higher-end bedding; one month it didn’t. The results were clear: Advertising significantly boosted sales of the pricier mattresses.
Back in the day when kapok was king
Springs and foams and gels—and all of them wrapped in beautiful performance fabrics. Today, when people in the mattress industry think about what is inside beds, that’s where the mind goes: Foams and gels and springs and those sumptuous fabrics.
A century ago, when the mattress industry was organizing into what now is called the International Sleep Products Association, things were different. Innersprings weren’t commonly available until the mid-1920s; latex foam rubber didn’t even enter the U.S. bedding market until the late 1930s.
Instead, retailers sold mattresses filled with cotton (felted and blown), as well as curled animal hair (horse, cattle, hog) and kapok, a fiber made from the pod of a tropical tree. Believe us, curled hair and kapok were big.
O Excelsior (wood shavings)
O Feathers & down
O Moss (both “sea” & “Louisiana tree”)
O Ticking (woven, denims, cretonnes, damasks, cottons)