I need a "new" mattress.
March 10, 2011 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Why are there so many "new" mattresses on Craigslist and on hand-written signs at intersections? Are they really new?

And then there are the Mega Mattress Wholesale Blowout Stores. The prices seem too good to be true. Are these mattresses actually new? Are they really name brand, or do they somehow sew labels onto no-name mattresses to make people think they're Sealy, or Serta, or whatever?

And where do they come from? Are there frequent mattress heists that I don't know about?

Aside from the obvious pee stains (or worse), how can I tell if a mattress is actually new? Have you had success in buying a mattress on the cheap? Horror stories are also welcome.

I'm looking to buy a new (or very nearly new) king-size mattress. This is a major purchase for me and I don't have a lot of money, so I'm going a little OCD with the decision-making process.

Recommendations for stores, brands, or particular models are much appreciated. I'm in the St. Louis, MO area, if that matters.
posted by Surinam Toad to Shopping (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
According to this Slate article from 2000, there is not much difference between cheap generic mattresses and name brand ones.
posted by cwhitfcd at 4:38 PM on March 10, 2011

I bought a used mattress/box spring once under extremely particular and well-researched conditions. When it's come up and I've told people I have a used mattress, many have recoiled in horror. Let me assure you: I would never buy a used mattress unless it could be vetted this thoroughly.

-It was being sold by a guy on my university's marketplace
-He bought the mattress new
-He was graduating a year early (most students move off campus after two years, meaning he had probably only used the mattress for one year, two at most)
-He lived in the most luxe apartment building in the neighborhood, which reinforces the fact that he probably did buy it new and that it's probably been moved by professionals (not strapped to the sport rack of a car) and kept in a relatively clean environment
-I went to his apartment to check it out prior to buying and everything seemed to be in order/mattress appeared to be in great shape
-The guy was easy to find on facebook
-He didn't have a girlfriend and didn't appear to be the kind of guy who got around (i.e. introverted nerd 2 tha max)
-He had a desktop computer in a room separate from his bedroom, suggesting any sort of fluid business he got down to likely wasn't happening on the bed

And that's the story of my used mattress.

For bookkeeping purposes, the mattress is a double-sided pillow top firm Serta. It is the most comfortable mattress I have ever slept on.
posted by phunniemee at 4:42 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have any insight into the cheapo stores and phone pole dealers beyond having read that same Slate article, which is a good one. I will say though that my last couple of mattresses have been the high-end foam ones from Ikea, and I've been very happy with them and with not having to wade through all the hard sell and BS surrounding the industry.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:45 PM on March 10, 2011

Here in Chicago, you'll see many "mattress scavengers" in the alleys. They're like the metal recyclers only they deal in mattresses. Yes, used mattresses that get thrown out in the trash are often picked up and "recycled". These are numerous stores in the city that pay these guys for used mattresses - in any condition. They recover em and sell them as new.

Makes me itchy just thinking about it.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 4:45 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can't give any guidance on the origin of discount mattresses and if they're the same quality as "new" or not, but I can give you a horror story:

Friend of a friend bought a mattress from a discount retailer. It was delivered without the plastic bag that new mattresses usually have, but otherwise seemed fine.

About 1 week later they found they had a bedbug infestation. Neither one had traveled recently, no guests over, had lived in the same place for over a year. The only new variable - the mattress.
posted by de void at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2011

The people at discount mattress stores are pretty much like the worst imaginable car salesmen. There's a pretty low chance they'll admit to still having any of the advertised discounted mattresses in stock and they'll try to talk you up to something expensive with the hardest of hard sells. You can probably eventually get out with a cheap mattress if you persist but goddamn is it a hassle.
posted by ghharr at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2011

My wife and I bought a fancy, expensive, new mattress. We had fun mattress shopping in a mattress store, but didn't look at the prices while we were trying out beds. There was one we both really liked, and she said "we'll take it!" without looking at the price. I figured, we're both employed, we have extra money for things like this, and our bed is in poor shape.

The I saw the price, and I balked. My wife paid for it on the spot, and I was uncomfortable with the speed of this decision. We didn't try to bargain or reduce the price, or get any token freebies. But we had the money to cover the cost, and then the bed was delivered to our house. After that first night, I realized it was worth it. We'd be on this bed for 10+ years, every night we're sleeping at home. We've slept better than we have in a long time, less back pain in the morning, etc.

In short: if you have the money, don't skimp on a bed, if you find one that you like and is from a reliable source. If you can find a comparable feeling one for less, great, but is it really worth saving a couple hundred dollars, spread over ten years?
posted by filthy light thief at 5:11 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I bought my current mattress (and boxspring) "new" for a few hundred dollars at Building 19. I'm reasonably sure it was actually new; I don't think it had any branding on it or anything. It was comfortable right out of the bag. I did have to take it home from the store myself, tied to the top of my Honda Civic.

I've slept on it for the past 10 years and only in the last couple of months I've been thinking maybe it's time for a new one. So, that is my positive cheap mattress story. I didn't buy it off Craigslist, but I did buy it from a somewhat sketchy source, and it was fine.
posted by mskyle at 5:38 PM on March 10, 2011

I've slept on discount mattresses and prison-quality (dorm) mattresses. When I was in a position to buy a new mattress for myself the first time, I didn't skimp--and I haven't regretted it. I bought a mid-range mattress (because the firmness I prefer is in the mid-range) from The Original Mattress Factory, which I found through Consumer Reports.

I would not buy a discount-store mattress ever again.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:30 PM on March 10, 2011

I bought a mattress from one of the Mega Mattress Wholesale Blowout Stores. It did not have a brand, but was clearly new. We borrowed a truck to get it to my apartment. It was about $400 for a queen. My husband and I slept on it for four years. It was markedly better than the mattresses we'd had -- which were twenty or thirty years old. But when we actually went to a furniture store and tried some out, we found an infinitely better mattress for about $400 more. Of course, that mattress died a year later, but as it was covered by warranty, we then got a memory foam mattress that was life changing. So in my estimation, the cheapies will be ok, but things get exponentially better when you spend a bit more. The warranty is a good thing.
posted by freshwater at 6:34 PM on March 10, 2011

I bought a memory foam mattress on Amazon. It's been good so far (3 months), and was much cheaper than an equally-comfortable conventional mattress. Before that, I struggled to comparison-shop for normal mattresses, which are given deliberately confusing names to make comparison-shopping impossible.
posted by sninctown at 6:35 PM on March 10, 2011

After experiencing (and hating) the hardsell at a Mattress Firm store, and almost buying it there, we decided to walk out and reconsider. After some thought and research, I found out about the mattress industry racket. There are only a few manufacturers, so the retailers don't want you to comparison-shop. So, each retail chain has their own models of Serta or Sealy or whatever, making it impossible to compare against competitors.

We then tried out the mattresses at Ikea, loved the Sultan Fjordgard, and have been sleeping blissfully every night for the past 8 months. Couldn't be happier.
posted by thewildgreen at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

One easy way to nucleate some thoughts about this is to look up local mattress and sleep stores and see how many of them have a money-back guarantee.

Those money-back mattresses go somewhere, and it might be a somewhere in which they are considered "new", if only in comparison to some of the scarier ones described above.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:13 PM on March 11, 2011

We just got a Sealy king mattress and box spring from Costco and it's amazing. It was just under $800 with a coupon. And we can take it back any time if we decide we hate it. Oh, and it was $100 cheaper in the store, picking it up yourself, than buying online and having it delivered.
posted by kmel at 6:30 AM on March 22, 2011

« Older Be my computer science sherpa.   |   white rice, brown rice, white bread, brown bread Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.