No Bull Mattress & More can help you sleep soundly
By Brian Sherman
John Madden found a new career after a fortuitous trip to a discount mattress store, but the more memorable name of his company didn’t make appearance in the bedding industry for another 19 years. Today, No Bull Mattress & More has a dozen locations in three states, including five in the Charleston area, with further growth expected in the coming years.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, not long after selling his dry cleaning business in Charlotte, North Carolina, Madden and his wife, Jackie, were in the market for something to sleep on. They dropped by a local discount mattress store, which, as fortune would have it, was for sale.
“I was thinking I could run this business 10 times better. We bought it and we were off to the races,” Madden remembered.
In the beginning, the Maddens marketed their business through the classified advertising section of the local newspaper and met with potential customers by appointment only. That soon changed because, “it was easier to stay at the store all day to meet walk-in customers.”
The business eventually expanded to five stores in Charlotte, another five in metro Charleston – because the Maddens always wanted to move to the Holy City – plus one each in Bluffton and South Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. In its first 17 years or so, the company went by a variety of names, including Wholesale Mattress and Mattress Warehouse, but none of those monikers really fit, according to Madden. Then one day around five years ago, while he was painting the outside of his North Charleston location, he looked up at the sign on the building and realized, “I hated our name. It didn’t speak to what we are.”
Suddenly and for no apparent reason, a vision of a cartoon bull popped into his imagination – and the name No Bull Mattress was born.
“There was no one else around, and I started laughing,” he said. “The idea just hit me, and it made all the sense in the world.”
The name fits perfectly, according to Madden, who pointed out that a major reason he got into the mattress business was his wife’s propensity toward honesty.
“I really founded this business for my wife to run, and, given her incredible integrity, I had to design a business that was predicated on the truth – finding better values and telling our customers what those values are. We’ve never had to convolute the truth,” he said.
Those values and that truth are based on Madden’s contention that consumers who buy mattresses on the internet or from large companies that spend millions of dollars every year on advertising are wasting their hard-earned money. He noted that one reason No Bull Mattress can afford to sell its products for less than the competition is that his advertising budget is just north of $5,000 a year for each store and rent is even less. Those spending habits allow him to sell mattresses at lower prices than those offered by the major brick-and-mortar retailers. He is especially wary of companies that offer mattresses online.
“No internet seller manufacturers their own mattresses. They can make you believe a mattress should cost $3,000 because it’s the latest and greatest thing,” he said. “But it’s really just a bunch of foam and slick marketing. They give you a year to test it out, but they know a certain percentage of the public won’t send a mattress back.”
Another knock against buying a mattress online is that you don’t get to actually lie on it before you buy it. And unlike other retailers, No Bull will deliver and set up your mattress, which obviously is more convenient than having a mattress dropped on or near your front porch.
Madden pointed out that mattress technology has come a long way in recent years. For example, some models can reduce your body temperature by as much as 2 degrees and keep in there for the rest of the night, while mattresses with denser latex and foam and more coils help keep your spine straight for a better night’s sleep.
“If you’re not getting eight hours of sleep or find yourself waking up periodically through the night, chances are you aren’t on the right mattress,” Madden said.
How long should you sleep on a mattress before shopping around for a replacement? Madden said the simple answer is eight years, but he added that his mother has owned the same mattress for 30 years and likes the way she’s formed “her own little nest” in it.
“If a little body impression drives you crazy, you might end up replacing your mattress every two years,” Madden remarked.
“A huge component of No Bull is the fact that our prices are 55% to 80% off the big guys’ prices without any phony ‘specials or sales,’ he added. “The big guys drastically inflate the pricing on a daily basis and then have phony ‘specials and sales’ to make you think you’re getting a good deal when, in reality, you are still paying twice what you should.”
For Madden, the bottom line is that he will save “every customer, every minute of every day at least half off the big guys without the retail sales tricks.” And that, he says, is no bull.