If you wouldn’t mind, for me, take a moment (right now) to remember the last time you bought a mattress.
Think back to the poorly-lit showroom; where you flopped your way across a lumpy, rectangular sea trying to gauge and project your ability to spend the next decade living on this mattress, or perhaps, that one. Put yourself back in that low-ceilinged, musty moment of haggling for free deliveries, frame options, and a new futon cover, thrown-in, if you play along.
Wasn’t that a fun memory?
Mattress acquisition generally occurs during times of great life transitioning; additions, subtractions, moves, etc. Because nothing is more fun than having to futz with mattress delivery and salesmen during a major life change. There are just a handful of places and experiences that you imagine can never get better; that were more a matter of enduring than enjoying (mechanic, dentist, DMV, post office, etc.) mattress showrooms used to be one of those places. Not anymore.
I stumbled upon the Casper mattress company through the internet, of course. It was on some life-hacking list, for which I am a consummate sucker, about getting better sleep. The Casper mattress was pitched as an alternative solution to the problems of the traditional spring-based mattresses. I started researching and familiarizing myself with Casper and the mattress game. For yes, of course there too is a mattress game; replete with complex pricing tiers, middle-man mark-ups, marketing firms (think of all the animated, counting sheep you’ve seen frolicking under a luminescent, crescent moon), and outdated technology.
There is a marked difference these days between the traditional mattresses of yore and the new, science/latex/memory mattresses. Imagine the cross section of a traditional mattress set, no matter how pillow-topped: you’ve got padded upholstery over metal springs, and stuffing atop a wood frame whose empty interior spaces are filled with who knows. There is a reason why the game is changing. The outdated models no longer reflect the progress science has made.
In the past, I had always dreamed about getting a Tempurpedic mattress one day, as it was one of the supposed standard-bearers of quality. I had watched on, in envy, as friends spent thousands upon thousands on their Tempurpedic setups walking away with the supposed promise of perfect sleep. Having spent a few nights on a Tempurpedic myself, I found the experience to be light years better than traditional spring mattresses but, I thought at the time, ultimately out of my price range. “Maybe one day when I win the lottery, Mr. Rockefeller,” I dreamed. The reviews were always glowing, but praise for Tempurpedic was always tempered by qualifiers; the most common ones being: “feeling like you are in quicksand when moving” and “no bounce/give for other, er, more extracurricular activities”.
Before reading about Casper it always seemed as if there was no middle ground between the super, high-end mattresses and the traditional setup. Casper mattresses fill that gap, and then some. At an affordable price point (thanks to the removal of the middle-man), made in America, with mail delivery and revolutionary mattress tech development, Casper mattresses seemed to be changing the way we buy mattresses. It all sounded too good to be true; the reviews, the literature, the science, and their corporate story. I was, of course, extremely suspicious. After reading all about Casper I volleyed the information over to Josh for perusal and we concurred that Casper indeed sounded too perfect but would be considered the next time we bought a mattress. So, when Josh emailed me several months later (while I was in Georgia), letting me know that he had read about Casper opening a Los Angeles showroom, I knew that we had to go upon my return.
For after many years of service, our old mattress had become a bone of contention. Josh has no problems sleeping. Anywhere. He has that magical ability. I, on the other hand, have problems sleeping. Everywhere. My bed-enning rituals are so lengthy and nuanced it is amazing I sleep at all. Up until my move to Chicago, I had primarily slept on the mattress purchased for my first college apartment, my Darlington dorm mattresses, or my childhood mattress. When I decided I was moving to Chicago, it was calculated that a new mattress would be cheaper than U-Hauling my college one, so I packed only what I could fit in my station wagon and headed off. It was the heady days before Yelp! and smart phones and buying and moving furniture in a new city was stressful, at best. We found an American Mattress store (in what I would later know to be Lincoln Park) on our way from the hotel to my new place. After choosing the lower, mid-range option (all of which were named after wines– mine was Claret) I watched my dad masterfully deal with the salesman, a task I respected but did not relish. The mattress buying memory is a memory of an exciting time in my life. When Josh and I consolidated households in 2007, we kept my 2-year-old, queen-size mattress over his full-size, Ikea mattress set purchased in 200- and question mark? Clearly, my mattress was the obvious choice.
Cut to 2013 and Josh and I moving to California and again debating about whether the 8-year-old mattress was worth paying to move across the country. Eight years had been hard on our mattress with a supplemental memory foam mattress pad being added in 2009 to mitigate my growing lower-back problems. But, moving is expensive on both ends and we finally settled on paying to move the old mattress, deciding to upgrade to a king-size upon our next subsequent move.
When I came back from Georgia last month, I was completely wiped. I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I was so glad and thankful to be back in California, with my Josh, in my “California life.” I flew into Los Angeles on a Friday night and after schlepping bags and myself across the country (in addition to having been sleeping on a hospital fold-out mattress for over a month) was really looking forward to crashing in my own bed. When I laid down on our mattress though, it was such a terrible disappointment. It was like oatmeal (but not in the good way?) and it was physically uncomfortable to lay down upon it. The mattress was bowed in all the usual places and I knew that no amount of flipping would help it this time. Josh and I spent the first two nights of my return sleeping on the (firm, yet very comfy) futon in the guest bedroom/office. It was decided that the situation had become untenable and since we would not be moving soon (which was our prior indicator) life was too short to sleep on a bad mattress. For there are sins a 25-year-old back can forgive that a 35-year-old one will not. We awoke that Sunday morning determined to at least start the process of buying a new mattress so that we could move back into the bedroom suite, tout suite!
We hopped into our four-door hatchback (Vice the Nissan Versa) determined to check out Casper first. We cruised up and then down Laurel Canyon (which is an adventure in its own right) and then found ourselves on the switchback roads of the Hollywood Hills. I still amazes me that some of the most dangerous, mountainous, rock-sliding-ous roads (nestled amongst hidden, blind-curved driveways) are in the middle of such a densely populated urban area. We perilously traversed the one-and-a-half laned road, navigating street parkers and oncoming traffic; all the while bemoaning the danger and questioning the sanity of people who would voluntary live in this nightmare jumble of backstreets. My iPhone notified us that we had arrived at our destination and we found street parking. We approached a charming mid-century modern, ranch-style house that was quintessential Hollywood Hills. There was a large, golden “C” emblazoned upon the door. We knocked politely and the door was answered by a golden goddess whose diaphanous kimono floated behind her as we followed her in.
She drew us into a short hallway peppering us with pleasantries. Josh leaned in and whispered to me, “Be careful. This whole place is cheesecake.” And he was right; from the beautiful woman who made wearing cut-offs look like an art form, to the drinks she offered us (kombucha and mimosas) everything about this place was designed to be decadent and delicious. A far cry, indeed, from any other mattress buying experience I’d ever had. We followed her into the living room and a view of the entire Los Angeles basin opened up before us.
I had to remind myself that I had lived before on the 14th-floor of a high-rise in Chicago for six years– the view before me was truly that spectacular. It was also a reminder that there are very few buildings in Los Angeles, outside of downtown, that are tall; I suspect, because of the earthquakes. Our hostess encouraged us to step out on the porch (where I snapped the following panorama) while she made our mimosas and then proceeded to ready the showroom. It was at this point that Josh confided that he finally understood what all the fuss was about regarding the Hollywood Hills.
Two other couples had entered the showroom, and we traded similar Casper-origin stories until our hostess took our preliminary details and then led us to one of the prepped bedrooms.
She escorted us into a bedroom overlooking the city, that obviously needed no other decorating. Our host told us to make ourselves comfortable and get a feel for the mattress with a smile and a wink. I didn’t know if we were suppose to make out or fall asleep. In the end, we did neither simply stretching out and testing the mattress. We sprawled onto the linen sheets and basked in the luxury of king-sized life. Within seconds, we both knew this mattress was the real deal and we pulled the trigger immediately. The transaction took maybe eight minutes; no hassles, pressure, or tricksy sales-incentives. We were told that shipping normally takes a week, but that they had gotten a shipment in the day before and there was a king-size in stock. From researching Casper, we knew that one of their selling points was that their mattresses ship compressed allowing for the easiest deliveries. It still took us aback when our 100-pound hostess emerged from another bedroom with a hand-cart carrying a large box she had maneuvered herself. We pulled Vice around to the front and Josh threw it into our car– a king-sized mattress in the back seat of our small, effecient car.
We folded down the back seats and slid the box in the rear. Not only did it fit easily, but there was enough room to go grocery shopping and go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for our new king-size lifestyle– including linen sheets which I didn’t know were a thing and now I’m obsessed.
When we got back to the apartment, Josh carried/slid the box up from the garage to our bedroom. In preparation for unboxing it, we moved our old queen-size set and frame into the living room to await being taken to the curb later that night. Unfortunately, a logistical glitch precludes my sharing the hilarious footage from the unboxing, but there are many a video on youtube if you are so inclined. The mattress, once unrestrained, grew rapidly– fluffing out to match the model we tested earlier. Casper even included a hand-written thank you note along with other literature.
After luxuriating in the decadence that was all of that king-size space, I hopped up, navigated around the extra mattress set that was now in our living room and went to schedule the bulk-item removal of our old mattress (and another few pieces that were clunking up the works). Unfortunately, there was a week-lag time between request and pick-up, so Josh and I got all the benefits of a new mattress with all the downsides of cohabitating with an extra mattress set and frame. But, the week passed and the following Sunday night, Josh and I wrestled my old mattress set, pad, frame, and Ted Cabeen’s college computer table (which we still had for some reason) down the hall and to the curb outside under the cover of darkness.
As we walked away, I turned to look at the mattress as it sat under the street lamp and moon glow looking particularly forlorn. I noticed a yellow-tag attached to the bottom. It was the original tag from the summer of 2005 when I moved to Chicago. It made me miss my family, their love, Chicago, and our life/friends there. That mattress became a physical manifestation of a chapter of a bygone Leigh. One, from which I was moving on. I thanked the mattresses for their years of service and thoughtfully headed inside.
I had an unexpected early morning errand to run the next day and as I emerged from our parking garage, our mattresses were waiting, confronting me at the curb in the cold light of day. Although it had survived the night, it looked damp and particularly sad after having been abandoned by me, with the metal from the table having been pillaged by a nocturnal scavenger. As I pulled away, I cringed: willing the dump truck to come immediately. When I returned later that afternoon, it was gone along with a decades worth of dust mites, skin cells, and a physical representation of that chapter of my life. I was glad to be moving forward to bigger and better things.
So, do we like our Casper mattress? Perhaps we are still in the honeymoon period. Preliminary reports suggest a total mind-blow. You know that moment of pure bliss the first time that you lay down after a long day, as your body settles into the mattress? Every night, one of us comments to the other how pleased we are with the Casper. Whether it will stand the test of time, we’ll see. But, I didn’t realize how poorly I had been sleeping until I actually started getting good sleep.
As much as I miss older things in days gone by, like when the big and little spoons would snuggly synch up and cozy, queen-size maximum slumber would be achieved, it is nice to be a grownup. The mattress game is changing and it’s exciting to be a part of the revolution.
Although this post is one long treatise on how great this company/mattress is I encourage you to head over to their website to see their official pitch or their CEO on Mad Money. What do you think? Are you in the market for a new mattress? Are you confused by “the game”? What were we doing with Ted’s old table, anyways?! As always, let us know!