Some San Diego area stores owned by Mattress Firm, Inc. may be closed as part of the recently announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the company, which is owned by Steinhoff International Holdings, a South African company. In San Diego, the stores were previously known as Sleep Train. Those outlets were acquired by Houston-based Mattress Firm for $425 million in 2014.
Mattress Firm will “exit up to 700 stores” nationwide and start with 200 closings, says the company. One San Diego County store announced for closure is in San Marcos, at 109 S. Las Posas Road. It’s not yet known if others in the county will shutter.
I spoke to an assistant manager at the Hillcrest store (at University Avenue and Vermont Street), who said she didn’t know if that store would close or stay open. But she thought the store would remain. That property at 1202 University Avenue previously housed three nightclubs. The 1202 nightclub closed in 2013; two previous nightclubs were Eden and Universal.
In an October 5 news release, Mattress Firm said that “it is taking action to strengthen its balance sheet and optimize its store footprint. [It] provides the Company access to new financing to support the business, establishes an efficient and orderly process for closing certain economically inefficient store locations, and provides for all trade creditors to continue being paid.”
A few blocks east of Mattress Firm, at University Avenue and Herbert Street, is Mattress World (“family owned and operated since 1960”). Manager Darrell Smith explained how they are different from the big mattress companies. He said they sell luxury and organic mattresses, but much cheaper than at Mattress Firm and similar firms. The company owns its building, so not having to pay a high-priced Hillcrest rent makes a big difference with their fixed costs, said Smith.
Smith stressed why local businesses matter. “We are invested in our community. The problem with Mattress Firm and other big-box businesses is that they have no interest in the community.” Smith said “a year ago” he had foreseen the disaster Mattress Firm was facing, “They made too many acquisitions,” said Smith.
An independent mattress retailer in North Park is Sleep Bedder, located on El Cajon Boulevard and Utah Street. Sonia Weksler, president of the business, describes her business as “proper beds and home goods.” The company sells organic mattresses and toppers, and home-decorating products.
Weksler said mattress sales have made a drastic shift “to a flux of consumers buying bed-in-a-box mattresses online.” This meant that her shop’s rent was “not sustainable with the retail mattress store climate.” Weksler is now working on her own “bedroom-in-a-box experience” called Sommeil.
As a result, Sleep Bedder will move next door to the site formerly occupied by Sports & Classics Auto Body. It will become Sommeil Boutique, and her rent will be less. Weksler sees the new brand as an “off-the-boulevard boutique for the home and body care, with more outdoor space.”
Mattress Firm, as well as other mattress stores in San Diego County, have intense competition from online businesses, with Amazon leading the way. Also growing on the web are Tuft & Needle, a direct-to-consumer mattress and bedding brand now owned by industry giant Serta Simmons.
Another popular e-commerce mattress seller is Casper. Casper has some retail stores, but none are in San Diego. Many Target stores carry the brand, including those in Mission Valley, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa and North County cities.
A&G Realty Partners is assisting Mattress Firm with their store-closing and lease-restructuring program. Their website is continuously refreshing its list of stores slated for closure. This story will be updated if/when other San Diego area stores are added.