If you’ve ever tried to replace an old mattress with an exact match, or tried to compare a model at one store to another, you may have found that it simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Doesn’t that seem strange?

If you delve a little deeper, do some more research, you may find that the mattress you are looking at is extremely similar, maybe even identical, to one that you’ve found elsewhere, only with a different name.

Curiouser and curiouser.

What if we told you that those mattresses are the same, and it’s all a trick? This may seem like some sort of conspiracy theory, but it’s actually pretty close to the truth.

Why the Name Game?

With most products, manufacturers establish a uniform name that remains consistent from retailer to retailer. In the mattress world, however, there are retailers who use different names for the same model, with little to no difference in the actual product. A different name makes it more difficult to price compare and shop around, so if you are looking to compare the price of Retailer X’s “John Doe” mattress to Retailer Y’s “John Doe” mattress, you may find that Retailer Y doesn’t carry the “John Doe.” In fact, no other retailer carries the “John Doe,” so if you want that mattress, you have to go to Retailer X. What they don’t tell you, is Retailer X’s “John Doe” mattress is exactly the same as Retailer Y’s “Jane Do” mattress. This way the retailers don’t have to compete, and they can charge whatever they want to customers who want to replace a mattress they’ve enjoyed over the years.

The secret to mattress shopping is that the product is basically a commodity. The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they’re pretty much all the same to a point. And that’s all you need to know. But do read on—the world of sleep products is quite fascinating, and I’d like to share it with you.

Same, Similar, and Comparable

One defense that retailers use to further convoluted comparison shopping is making subtle, usually insignificant changes to the mattress. This way they can say that the “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” mattresses are different because they use different fabrics in the quilt or have an extra 1/4-inch of foam. Sometimes they just use different colors or quilt patterns. But for all intents and purposes, these mattresses are the same to the customer. They feel the same and use the same major components, but may have a different name, look, or subtle construction differences.

In some cases, these mattress can literally be the same. Often they are very similar save for aesthetic or minor material changes. Even in the case of an extra 1/4-inch of foam, these comparable mattresses will be indistinguishable to the customer.

Innerspring mattresses, particularly the Big S’s (Simmons, Serta, Sealy), dominate the market. But how to choose among Serta and Sealy, Stearns and Foster, and King Koil? Or for that matter, between the Simmons Beautyrest Exceptionale Lenore and the Simmons Beautyrest Do-Not-Disturb Royalty Ultra?

Here’s the lowdown: Mattress makers rename identical products for each different retail store. The product names we carry can not be found within 150 miles of us. Different labels, exact same guts. Why? Obfuscation. It’s hard to shop for the lowest price when you can’t compare apples to apples. Lucky for you, they’re all subtle variations on the same apple—not only within each brand, but even among different brands.

The heart of an innerspring mattress is the coils. Otherwise it’s just foam, cotton, quilting, and stitches. But the big-name mattress makers (with some exceptions) all get their coils from a single company, Leggett and Platt, (We sell their bed frames and Mattress protectors also) for their highest-end mattresses down to their lowest. This is akin to every single car on the market, Lamborghinis to Kias, using an engine made by Ford. Except that mattresses are far less complicated than cars. In fact, they’re so simple that there’s no real difference among them at all.

Upshot: Ignore brand names. They’re meaningless. Just pay attention to comfort. Which leads us to our next question:

How Firm Should My Mattress Be?

Herein lies the central mattress paradox. You sleep on coils because they’re softer than the floor, but you still want good, firm coils, but then you put foam padding on top to soften the coils, but you still want the foam to be dense, and then finally you put a strong box spring or foundation underneath for just a tiny bit of give. All this shuttling back and forth on the scale of firmness—why not just start with the firmness you like, and then stop?

Let’s break down each mattress feature that creates firmness, or softness, or both.

Coil Counts and Wire Gauges: Coil counts and wire gauges seemed the key to everything. We have desperately sought these numbers from the mattress makers, but had long failed to penetrate the shroud of secrecy in most cases. We figured these stats were the empirical measure: More and thicker coils mean fuller and better support. But We soon found it’s not that simple. Some mattresses use more coils but thinner-gauge wire. Some use thicker wire but fewer coils. And everyone uses radically different configurations that make comparisons meaningless.

Yes, if you pay more with more coils, you’ll get a theoretically better coil design, if your body weight needs it, but better enough to feel a difference?  So don’t worry about the stats—worry about the comfort.

Pillowtops: Pillow tops are soft layers of foam (or cotton, or wool) sewn to the top of the mattress. They’re hugely popular. They add hundreds of dollars to your purchase in hi-end beds.

Thickness: Some over rated Stearns and Foster (a brand owned by Sealy) mattresses we saw measured about 2 feet thick (and cost $5,000). It looked like they sewed a futon on top of an innerspring. Experts we talked to say thickness is just a ploy: It makes beds look comfy in the showroom. If you notice a difference, Great, but thickness isn’t vital to a good bed. You can achieve the same feel with less height (and weight—some mattresses weigh more than 200 pounds and are tough to carry up the stairs). At most a 15-16″ Mattress is the most you will ever need pertaining to comfort.

Mattresses have gotten so thick recently that people are complaining they can’t see their headboards. Actual industry response: They made the box-springs thinner ( low-profile).

Is a Firm Mattress Best for My Back?

An orthopedic surgeon at something called the National Foundation for Spinal Health, said a mattress should support you in the “position of function”—the normal curve of your spine when you’re standing up. When a mattress flattens the curve (too firm), or exaggerates it (too soft), bingo: back pain. According to him, a supportive innerspring works better than foam, air, or water. The NFSH recommends: the Simmons Back Care mattress. Problem solved, let’s go home, yes? No! we soon discovered the NFSH takes money from companies, including, especially, Simmons! Sketchy! Next orthopedic surgeon, please.

This second guy was independent and no longer practicing. He debunked the myth that firm mattresses are best. They are if you get acute back spasms, but for regular back pain your mattress doesn’t make much difference. “The back is a complicated structure,” he said. “Back pain has a lot to do with how you’re built, but not a lot to do with your mattress.” So you don’t have to feel guilty about buying a soft, cushy mattress. It doesn’t make a difference. (Regional trivia: Firm mattresses sell more in the Northeast [you penitent yankees, you!], while soft wins out in the South.)

What About Foam, Air, Water, and Latex?

These legendary “four elements” of classical mythology can also be mattresses. Viscoelastic “memory” foam is popular now. We tried the Tempurpedic brand and loved it—it melts to fit your form. But we wouldn’t spend $3,500 for a mattress, no matter how Swedish it is. So we Don’t carry it. Tempurpedic said we HAD to sell it for the MSRP to carry them.. We Pass..

Select Comfort air mattresses have sold big lately. I didn’t like the feeling of air, even though I could adjust the firmness with a remote-controlled pump. When you compress it with your weight, air doesn’t seem to have as much give as foam. And it felt like I was camping. These start at $750 for a queen-size and go up. For a good quality expect to spend around $2995.00

Finally, an independent mattress manufacturer I talked to swore that latex makes the best mattresses. (Coincidentally, he makes latex mattresses.) We tried a latex bed, and it didn’t feel very different from a firm innerspring, but that’s us. So we passed on stocking them.

Futons?

Sure, why not? They’re cheaper, partly because there’s no box spring. But what is a futon these days, anyway? The definition has essentially devolved into “it bends.” They even make innerspring futons, now. At the same time, real innerspring beds keep stacking on the foam and cotton, emulating futons of yore.

Conclusion

If you can’t tell the difference between a $600 and a $3900 mattress (We couldn’t, but maybe you can), get the cheaper one. They’re nearly the same, anyway. Anything over $2,000 and you’re just paying for prestige. There are tons of great mattress sets for low prices. Yes, to an extent, you get what you pay for (better coil design, denser foam, ritzier ticking), but don’t go crazy over this stuff. Lie down on mattresses in our store and trust your own judgment. Remember: Once you’re asleep, every mattress feels the same.

The I-30 Mattress Outlet Advantage

We know this game and can help you work around it. We can quickly identify which model you’ve seen somewhere else and find you the exact match or a comparable model in out store if we can. If we can’t we’ll tell you we don’t have it. Call 1-903-380-5200 find out how much money you can save.

Our high-volume purchasing power and VERY low overhead allow us to offer substantial mattress savings with exceptional customer service. This is why we exist, and how we’ve matched over 10,000 plus customers with a new mattress so far in the past 20 years in Mount Vernon. We don’t need games to win customer loyalty, our prices take care of that.

Best Products, Best Prices

I-30 Mattress Outlet  has the largest in-stock available mattress selection in the area. We carry the top brands like Corsicana Bedding, SleepInc and Spring Air. We do NOT carry Serta, Sealy, Tempur-Pedic, and many more due to the brands forcing retailers to sell at their set prices. In fact Sealy and Serta REFUSED to sell to us because we REFUSED to sell their mattresses at “Suggested Retail“, and match the stores down the road. These brands we carry are the same high-quality mattresses you’ll find elsewhere, the only differences you’ll find are in the prices and names.