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Why I’m back: Mattress industry’s sense of family a powerful draw

Why I’m back: Mattress industry’s sense of family a powerful draw

In this first column for Bedding News Now, I would like to note that reports of my retirement were greatly exaggerated. I would also like to identify the guilty party spreading those reports: me.

It turns out that I’m not very good at saying goodbye to the mattress industry, which I first began covering exactly four decades ago. Back in those days, the mattress industry was not held in the highest regard in the trade press — and in the home furnishings industry — that it currently enjoys, a position that I would like to think I helped establish over the years.

When Steve Pond, Furniture Today’s visionary founder, first assigned me to the mattress beat, I asked him if that would be a good career move for me. Steve assured me that it would be. And, as usual, he was right.

I spent five enjoyable years getting to know the men (and a few women) in the mattress space before taking on new editorial duties at the paper. And it was then that I first said goodbye to my friends in Mattressville, the term I later coined for the mattress industry.

“Industry changes include a farewell” was the headline on the column I wrote in 1989. “Whatever the issue,” I wrote, “you have always nurtured me with your kindness and support. One of the great things about the bedding industry is the strong sense of family that permeates it. Thanks for making me an integral part of the family.”

While that column marked the end of my first run as the day-to-day mattress writer, I stayed in touch with the mattress industry over the years, regularly attending the EXPOs hosted by the International Sleep Products Association and occasionally reporting on mattress developments in news stories and columns.

In 2001, I returned to the mattress beat full time, embarking on a run that would last for 22 years and would see me join ISPA as editor-at-large for its publications. In January 2023, I wrapped up my full-time mattress reporting for ISPA but continued to write columns through the end of that year, thus maintaining my long-standing ties to the industry.

And it is the connection my columns give me to the mattress industry that brings me back to this space. It has been my honor and privilege for all these years to be a leading voice of the industry, to praise and to challenge, and to always shine a bright light on our category, the most dynamic one in the home furnishings sector. I think I still have some things to say to the industry. 

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When Rick Harrison, the founder of Home News Now and its family of publications, reached out to me recently, he said the industry would like to continue to hear from me on a weekly basis. His gracious invitation gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want to write about.

I have retired from full-time work. I love spending time with our two granddaughters, Ivy and Lizzie, and I’m now a regular at my gym. I’m spending more time with my family and on personal writing projects.

But I haven’t retired from caring deeply about the mattress industry. I remain intrigued by the inner workings of mattress manufacturing, marketing and retailing — and by the men and women who power the industry forward each day.

Our industry is engaged in a noble profession. We are building better lives with each night of better sleep that we provide. It’s good to be back with my mattress family.

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