SSA Showroom attendance up 9% over last Winter Market, drawing over 500 Buyer Groups. Numerous Rave Reviews from Member Exhibitors.

The SSA showroom has had good show experiences and a few slower markets as well over the years, but the recently concluded Las Vegas market really stood out as a booming success with a total of 501 scanned “Buyer Badge Groups” according to Executive Director Tambra Jones. “That is a 9% increase for our SSA showroom over the last winter market when we had 458 total buyer groups in the showroom,” said Jones. To be clear that 500 is not the total overall number of buyers because the SSA tries to scan only one badge per group of buyers coming in from the same retail location.  The fact is the total buyer traffic could be twice that number over the total length of the market. Jones, also pointed out that traffic was spread out over four days, and “we even had some new buyers come through on the last day and one placed an order with an exhibitor who was still there in his space at the end of the market.”

It is also important to realize that the SSA scanned 157 non-buyers at the showroom entrance. “These folks are manufacturers, a variety of suppliers, reps. international marketers, web specialists, media people and industry guests who play a vital role networking with our members,” says Dale Read, President of the SSA. “More than just buying goes on in the showroom.  Potential partnerships, alliances, and business-to-business negotiations go on in our showroom. We have played a key role connecting people with new sales opportunities, new licensing agreements, private labeling opportunities, new employees, new sources of supply and new product ideas,” states Read. 

“In order to really understand the vital role our showroom plays for our member exhibitors, we would like to share their comments and reviews,” says Jones. “We had 28 different exhibitors in our showroom this winter, and here are just some of the really amazing positive reviews we received, “

New exhibitor Peter Laurens of Baltic Natural/IVO Mattresses enthusiastically tells the SSA that  “….for new, small and medium-sized bedding exhibitors,  the SSA showroom is the best place to be at the Las Vegas Market.  Our perception was that there was greater traffic at the showroom than at most of the individual showrooms elsewhere on the 15th floor.”

Discussing the SSA’s role of reaching the furniture buyers, Chani Meyer of Supernal Recliner Beds stated,” This show was very busy and brought us many solid prospective leads, and has really helped establish Supernal in the furniture world. And, as always, we love seeing our booth neighbors, who have come to feel like family!”

Brice Hata of TMI Products says his company has experienced more success with every show.   “This past Winter Las Vegas Furniture Market topped our previous market yet again.  The quality of the buyers continues to improve market to market.”

Meanwhile, Danican, who focused on their whole new private label container program, shared that, “We were very pleased with the amount of new qualified business relationships we were able to start at the Winter 2018 LVM due to showing in the well-attended Specialty Sleep Association showroom.  As always, the support and camaraderie from SSA staff and member vendors helped make showing at LVM a successful week for the Danican team,” stated  “Jonathan Weingarten .

 Nina Kao at uKnead Massage Chairs summarizes : “ Winter 2018 was our best market yet, out of the 4 times we've exhibited so far (twice at B temporaries). SSA showroom is THE place to be for growing small businesses.”

Discussing the diversity of buyers they spoke with Suzanne Diamond of The Futon Shop/TFS Mattresses tells us , “It was a very busy and active show. We had great traffic and connected with many buyers both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar.”

First time exhibitor Brian Phillips of Swiss Bliss Mattress stated, “The Specialty Sleep Association was the perfect venue to make our nationwide debut.  We were amazed by both the quantity and the quality of the buyer traffic.  Each vendor/supplier within the space provided assistance, advice and referrals to the other vendors during the show.  Swiss Bliss Mattress is thrilled to be part of the "Specialty Sleep Family".

Returning veteran Butch Craig of Sleep & Beyond: warmly expressed his thanks to the SSA, “…for making each Vegas Market a joy to be associated with the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA). Vegas 2018 Winter Market was Sleep & Beyond 6th year (12th show) with great friends and showroom neighbors. The result was the best Vegas Winter Market ever!”  Craig opines, ”Sleep & Beyond can testify that 80% of success is showing up and the 20% is follow up. patience And persistence work.  Keep in mind that when you are absent at the shows your absence is noticed. 

Another new exhibitor, Eric Duhamel, Orthex of Canada reported that the SSA plays a key role in teaching emerging companies about the industry. “This was a great learning experience! It was a pleasure to share the common space with our fellow exhibitors, who were helpful and supportive. We appreciate that we were able, on top of meeting potential partners, to learn about the industry and its trends."

Chris Robinson of Naturepedic  says, “We saw brisk traffic at Winter Market 2018. It was great to have the opportunity to put some fresh eyes on our new product offerings for this year” 

Faye Lizotte representing Cadence Keen Innovations/CKI Solutions said,  "We were very pleased with the show and the many people that stopped by our booth.  We made great contacts for reaching out for future business.  We all felt that the atmosphere in the SSA Suite was very positive, lively and friendly."

Max Van Dorn, new representative for Palm Pring Coconut Mattresses, said about his first market experience,  "The selection of manufacturers curated for the Specialty Sleep Association showroom was ideal for attracting attendees with a high level of interest in our products, leading to a very high success rate in our conversations."  Max wondered if the buyers make it all the way around the room.  Tambra answered, "The buyers usually scoot around the entire room, however they often hide their badge so that they are not approached...unless they want to be.  Your product and your boothmanship/demeanor will tell the tale of your success at a trade show."

Check out the photo gallery from the market!

Who Is It Really That Are Buying Mattresses and Bedding?

By Dale Read

Dave Perry and the researchers at Furniture Today published in the most recent issue of the magazine (Page 18, December 11-24, 2017) a report that answered a huge question I have been asking the top executives of the mattress industry on Facebook for about a year. Who is it that really buys our mattresses and bedding? Who is it that actually buys our products, keeps our factories and our stores going, and what income bracket do they fall into?  I will openly admit that I have a bias. I have believed that based on common sense, the preponderance of mattress purchases simply could not be driven by the wealthiest customers…the top 1%, top 5% or even the top 10% of income earners in America. I have believed all along that the vast majority of mattress and bedding units sold, and total dollars spent, actually come from the middle class and the upper middle class. True, the very wealthy can purchase mattresses for many thousands of dollars, and yield very large comfortable margins for manufacturers and retailers alike. Nevertheless, steeped in my bias, I have believed that a strong and viable middle class and upper middle class were the backbone of mattress and bedding profits. The middle to upper middle buyers were what kept the $13 billion-dollar retail industry and the hundreds of mattress factories open and humming away. You could lump all the sales of the very rich together, (both units and profits), and there is simply no way you could keep our industry alive and robust on those sales alone. My conclusion was that we truly need a viable and strong middle and upper middle class alive and well, and buying mattresses for our industry to thrive.

Now comes the impartial, non-biased  “Buying trends by income” research report in the latest “Bedding Consumer Buying Trends” write up in Furniture Today. According to Furniture Today, this online survey (the online method may lean towards higher income folk who can afford computers, etc.) “….analyzes the responses of more than 2,500 U.S. households and presents a broad overview of how household income levels influence bedding purchases….” The researchers divide their respondents into three categories “Lower income”, making less than $50,000 in 2016; “Middle income, making $50,000 to $99,999; and then Affluent, making $100,000 or more.

Before I relay Furniture Today’s findings, permit me to share that one could legitimately argue that $125,000 or even $150,000 is actually not “Affluent”, but rather average or middle income for folks who live in Greater New York or New Jersey, Greater Boston, parts of Philadelphia, Greater Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, parts of Florida, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Housing values vary significantly depending upon where you live. A decent ranch style home in parts of suburban North Carolina could sell for $185,000 to $250,000 and the same ranch would sell in my neighborhood near Annapolis for $400,000 or more. There really is a diversity in values and property tax levels in rural, relatively poorer communities and wealthier suburban and urban enclaves with heavy concentrations of people. There could be an argument for a more detailed or finite breakout at the very top and very bottom brackets of this study to track even more closely the income levels of bed purchasers. That said, I think this study is still very informative and we should be grateful to Furniture Today for showing us the income levels of those who purchase mattresses and bedding.

According to “Buying Trends by Income”, 70% of all mattress units are purchased by middle income or affluent buyers. 38.1% of the households that bought a mattress in 2016 were middle class households and 32% were in the affluent category. As might be expected the middle class was responsible for 41% of the total dollars spent on mattresses. Due to higher price points and higher quality of models of beds sold, the “affluents” spent 42% of total dollars. Supporting the proposition that affluent buyers have a disproportionately positive influence on mattresses sold, Furniture Today reported that,” High-income households spent 1.8 times MORE on bedding than lower income household…” in 2016.  This is all good news for manufacturers and retailers looking to market mattresses at higher price points which earn them higher profit margins.  It is good news to know that there is a solid “high-end” mattress market place, especially for those brands that focus on comfort, performance, durability and quality.

Nevertheless let’s re-focus back on what may be an even more compelling piece of news: 38.1% of Furniture Today’s buyers were middle class who purchased mattresses, and they represented 41% of “Total dollars spent on bedding.” Add in my bias about who is really middle class in today’s more populated states (move the $125,000 people down to middle class), and I’d guess that the middle class really represents 50% or more of both units sold and dollars spent on mattresses.

Well mattress executives, there you have it. Our business is a middle class business with affluent benefits on the high end. We make our money and keep our factories flowing and brands flourishing because people who make $50,000 and up buy a huge portion of our products. The affluent may be the frosting on our cake, but the middle class is the cake itself. So if we act in the spirit of “enlightened self-interest” when it comes to business policy (employment, wages, benefits, insurance) or to public policy (taxes, education, job-training, infrastructure, etc.) we should do everything possible towards building a vibrant and successful middle class earning somewhere between $50,000 and $125,000 a year.  When they thrive, the mattress industry thrives.  They falter or fail, the mattress industry falters as well.

You can argue left, right, up or down, but show me the evidence where the mattress industry does well with a weak middle class, even if there is a strong affluent sector, and I’ll change my opinion. So far the evidence sure does seem to be flowing towards creating a newly revived and strong society fueled by consumers who make $50,000 to $125,000 .

Dale T. Read
President, Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)
Owner/CEO, The Marketing Arm Group, LLC

SSA From 1995 To Today – A History

Advocating For Specialty Sleep Products and Companies
     Friant, CA – Today’s Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) is an organization that has evolved over the past twenty-two years out of three industry associations: the former Waterbed Manufacturers, the former Waterbed Retailers and some former members of the Futon Association International (FAI). In 1995 with the precipitous decline of waterbed sales and the expansion of new, innovative specialty sleep categories including airbeds, latex rubber beds, memory foam beds, futons, natural and all-natural beds and some gel bed applications, the manufacturers and retailers pulled together to create what today is the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA). Historically the various independent SSA trade shows and/or showrooms within larger furniture markets such as High Point or the Las Vegas World Market Center have served as the nexus or energy center for the SSA.
     When the SSA was launched in 1995, the association and trade show were managed by an association management group and held their first show in New Jersey. The following year the show went to Scottsdale, AZ at the same time that the Futon Association held their show a few miles away in Phoenix. The SSA Board members realized that many of the mom and pop, and some larger, chain specialty sleep shops were also futon shops, so it began to make sense to downsize their management overhead and co-locate the SSA Show in the same city and time as the Futon Association (FAI) Expo.   Then in 1998 SSA President Carla Williams met with FAI Trade Show Director Tambra Jones (who is now the SSA Executive Director) to discuss the SSA joining in with the Futon Expo.  A plan was presented to both the SSA and FAI Boards to have the FAI include the SSA exhibitors in their show, under Jones’ direction.  An agreement was signed, and the “Futon and Specialty Sleep Expo” was born.  The FAI had held its annual trade show in a different city each year, but agreed to the SSA’s request that the new combined show be held on alternating years between Las Vegas and other East Coast or Midwest venues.  (Even back then the SSA believed Las Vegas was the best place for their trade show.) The first combined show was in 1999 in Las Vegas at Cashman Field.  It was a resounding success.
     The SSA as we know it today, really began with the opening year of the Las Vegas World Market Center.  In 2005, the Futon Association changed it’s infrastructure, Jones became the Executive Director for the SSA, and the SSA and the FAI separated into their own independent sections in the first pavilions (tents) available on the World Market Center campus. SSA operated out of the tents until 2008 when Executive Director Jones and the SSA Board negotiated a permanent showroom deal in the new Building C on the 13th floor, and later moved up to the 15th floor to become a key part of a mattress and bedding “go-to” destination. (The Futon Association also leased a permanent showroom in 2008, but subsequently lost the showroom and folded the association).  Since moving into the permanent show location, the SSA has typically served as a host for approximately 30 manufacturers or suppliers exhibiting for mattress, bedding and home-furnishings retailers attending the Las Vegas market. According to Jones, who scans buyer groups entering the SSA Showroom, there are between 400 and 500 different buying influences or retail organizations, and hundreds more manufacturers and suppliers who visit the SSA Showroom each market. Although only one member of each group is scanned, the groups vary from one person to as many as eight people from a single store or organization – so the “people count” is much higher than that.
     The SSA showroom has served so many in the industry, however most people don’t realize the history or impact this showroom has had on the mattress and bedding industry. “Often people in our industry simply just do not fully appreciate the critical role the SSA Showroom has played for retailers, manufacturers and suppliers for a number of decades. We put supreme emphasis on what we present in our showroom. There is a lot of hard work involved in sustaining and managing this show, and we depend upon and are proud of the support from our members,” says Dale Read, President of the SSA.  

Fond Memories and Real Changes
     Over the years, the SSA has played a vital role in the personal and business lives of active participants in the association and its twice-a-year trade show. We talked with Denny Boyd former SSA President and owner of Boyd Sleep who shared some of his strongest and most meaningful memories. When asked if he recalled meeting somebody significant in his life, Boyd replied, “Yes, I met Carla Williams (now Carla Boyd) …the love of my life.” Denny and Carla (who was with Blue Magic back then) worked together on the SSA Board.  They actually met with Reed Business Publishing to suggest a permanent spot in Las Vegas for a trade show, where the SSA could be part of the organization to create and manage the show. Boyd shared, “Believe it or not they did not believe that Vegas would be successful.” When asked to name some of the historical founders or significant people in those early days of specialty sleep, Boyd mentioned Linda Lauer, Natalie Davis, Tony Bova, Michael Gerharty, Tim and Tom Young, Barry Ross, and Roanne and Tom Barron. When asked how the SSA changed the mattress / bedding industry Boyd opined, “The SSA (trade show) has been an incubator for many small and innovative companies offering a platform to show their products and to help them access the worldwide bedding industry and the retail market. "When asked if there are any real lessons to be learned from the SSA history, Boyd summed it up, “Change is constant. We need to stay ahead of it. We all need to innovate and market our products well.”
     Carla Williams Boyd, owner of Sleep 2000, and President of the SSA prior to Denny, shared that her favorite memory was when the SSA hosted an amazing celebratory party at Pure Night Club in Las Vegas featuring the Pussy Cat Dolls. There was a huge turn out of SSA members, and Furniture Today Executive Editor Dave Perry attended as well.  Carla remembers, “It lasted until 4 AM - we all danced, drank and got a little out of hand”.  Carla also remembered the gathering and parties hosted by Blue Magic during the SSA trade shows, and in particular the SSA Show at the Sands in Las Vegas  where they set up a Café’ on the show floor complete with Creole food and called it “The Blues Café”. She mentioned an old SSA favorite, the show held in a resort in Scottsdale, AZ on the resort tennis court.  Carla called to mind two early giants of the specialty sleep industry: Blake Bell of Springs and Ron Larson of Land & Sky.
     Scott Smalling, who founded ComforPedic® and now is Founder of the charity Relief Bed International, told us “The SSA provided me with a unique and strategic perspective on the specialty market. Mostly it served as another important piece of the puzzle that helped me sell my brand ‘ComforPedic.’”   He said further, “The Specialty Sleep Association is the only platform for new specialty brands and unique technologies. It allows these companies to have a voice in the sleep industry. The showroom is a ‘Must-See’. If larger brands do not visit the showroom at market they run the risk of missing out on unique technology for their products or getting an early look at a newcomer.”

The Real Impact of the SSA
     Read points out that the present Mission and Vision of the SSA are respectively: “To serve sleep innovators, both manufacturing and retail, by promoting members, product transparency, and education,” and “to be a trusted authority for consumers on product transparency and education for specialty sleep products.”  Read explains that the SSA retailer-focused showroom is a central element for fulfilling their goal to present retail stores with the features and benefits of specialty sleep products. “The SSA has been an advocate for innovation and technology in sleep products for the sleep retailer for decades now. The SSA showroom is what gives us our primary platform,” says Read. Tambra Jones explains that the SSA Showroom has been an incubator or “retail-focused launch pad” for some of the biggest brand-names in mattresses and bedding. “If you walk around the market you will see large showrooms with widely recognized brand-names who started with us either at one of our regional shows (including our independent Las Vegas shows), or who were with us out in the tents, or have been with us in our showroom now at the World Market Center,” says Jones.
     Jones went back to 1999 looking at early combined SSA/ FAI regional and Las Vegas shows and tracked tenants right up to the 2017 Las Vegas markets. “It might surprise people to know that some well-recognized mattress and bedding companies such as TempurPedic, King Koil Northeast (Blue Bell), Carpenter, Boyd Specialty Sleep, Comfortaire (now part of Sleep Number), Eclipse/ Eastman House, South Bay, PureCare /Fabrictech, Protect-A-Bed, Dreamfit, Magniflex, Blue Sleep Products, Glideaway, XSensor Tech (and a long list of companies who are not as recognizable) started in show exhibits with the SSA.  These are just some of the many exhibitors we have helped launch and grow from our showroom floor.”
     “Serving as the host and chief brand incubator is only one of the roles the SSA plays”, explains SSA president Read.  Read lists a number of conversations, events and happening that have occurred as a result of SSA involvement. “Just at the recent winter 2017 Las Vegas market, we helped a key SSA member find, interview and then hire a new national sales manager. We helped an emerging ergo-focused mattress brand to meet, and then network with four possible mattress components and technology suppliers. Another time we helped a prospective international member offering a niche technology to meet with numerous mattress and bedding manufacturers. We worked closely with an international inspection and certifying organization to publicly announce a new global standard. We assist our members by writing and distributing press releases for SSA members working closely with eight key trade journal editors. We strive to offer a powerful speaking program for retailers having featured a variety of different educational topics over the past five years.”
     Read offers two important examples of the vital role the SSA showroom and the association have played. About five years ago, a highly recognized top executive of the then Number Two mattress brand in the US came into the showroom and met with an emerging gel bed technology provider. That meeting was a first meeting of the two companies. Read says they met for at least half an hour. He does not know what happened immediately after that, but within a year that mattress company launched a major new gel bed and gel swirl mattress line that helped grow the mattress brand to Number One. A second story: An entrepreneurial pillow designer had a ten-foot booth in the showroom, where she introduced a whole new design and comfort level in pillows. A fast-growing top-of-bed company met that person in the SSA showroom. After a series of conversations, the top-of-bed company bought the pillow brand and together they did a major successful launch of this new pillow design bringing real performance, quality and comfort to the marketplace.
     “We really do not talk enough about our education mission and our desire to bring the newest and most cutting-edge ideas to retailers,” says Read.   Jones agrees, “The SSA regularly sponsors workshops and panels at the Las Vegas Market to bring important information to retailers, manufacturers and really, the Sleep Industry at large.  I remember the FTC representative filled the room when we brought him to Market for a presentation which put a spotlight on the importance of correct product labeling and encouraged truth in marketing.” 
     The SSA continues with its Mission – striving to showcase innovative products, bring pertinent information to retailers and manufacturers, and promote marketing transparency.   The BEDFAX® Verified Program, created by the SSA, is being developed as a tool for product transparency for mattresses, using a contents label that can be openly verified.  Says Jones, “This is a program for manufacturers who are truthful in their marketing claims, and want to verify them publicly for their retail stores.  The idea – in the end – is to help sell more beds.   Our goal is to help the manufacturers provide the retail sales associate with a clean tool to use in their sales presentations.”    Barry Cik, President of Naturepedic Organic is beginning to use the Bedfax® Program in retail stores who carry his mattresses.  Barry says, “We devote a tremendous amount of effort and resources to certify our products with the kinds of organizations who value organic and sustainable components.  The Bedfax Program fits right in with our company’s marketing transparency mission and we are excited to begin using it to full capacity.“            
Anyone interested in the BEDFAX® Program is encouraged to visit the Program website:
     Jones wraps up, “The SSA is a small but committed organization.   We are proud of our 13,000 square-for showroom and continue to work to improve the experience people have there.“ Read agrees, “Starting with additional glass doors for better visibility, new clean dividers, dedicated WiFi in the room, coffee for our members, and a renewed effort to reach retailers including powerful retailer information programs and speakers, the SSA is committed to strengthening and supporting both third-party, independent retailers and serving as an advocate for emerging entrepreneurial manufacturers and suppliers.”

HEADS UP - Are you covered for what you think you are in a disaster?

The recent physical disasters have left some people (and businesses) in dire straits.  Hearing friends’ and family’s upsetting stories, reading about our contemporaries in neighboring states and/or countries, have all made us wonder if we are adequately prepared if disaster struck our own homes or businesses.  We have heard of complications getting insurance help as well as situations where policies had high deductibles and inadequate coverage for the kind of damage that ensued. 

We here at the SSA looked into this – and so should you.  SSA Directory Tambra Jones contacted her own State Farm agent to ask about her homeowners coverage – and how she could efficiently and effectively be paid for a future claim.   She also looked into a number of insurance sites for general information.  Check these sites for some general information:  and

Based on her conversation with her agent, and what she learned online, Tambra makes these suggestions:

1.     Call your insurance agent and ask if you have a policy stipulating replacement value (they replace your $5000 leather sectional) or cash value (what you paid, less the depreciation for that sectional).  What coverage are you getting for the price you are paying?

2.     Make an inventory list of what is inside your home/business.  State Farm has an inventory list suggestion:  There will be specific requirements for reimbursement, (i.e.: should your inventory should include serial numbers and the year items were purchased…?).

3.     Look into a Personal Article Policy if you have valuable items (expensive jewelry, watches, clothing, electronics) in your home/business.  These policies will allow you to replace specifically insured items without a deductible – and these claims won’t affect your general claims rating with your carrier.  We learned, for example, that the cost for insuring a $2500 laptop is only $94 per year at State Farm, and that covers accidental damage and loss of the item – with no deductible. (So if this laptop is damaged at the airport while traveling, or stolen from your hotel room…you are covered – without record of a claim on your homeowners policy).

4.     Look carefully at the cost for coverage not included in your standard homeowners policy (earthquake and flood are main ones).  Sometimes the cost is only a few hundred dollars per year, and offers up to 85% coverage for damages (specific areas have specific costs – ask your agent about the options you have in your area).

We strongly encourage all of you to contact your insurance agents and get clear about what your policy does and does not cover.  If your don’t have your own agent, feel free to contact Tambra’s State Farm agent to get started with the information you need to protect your property.  Send Caresse Heitzman an email and let her know you are following up on the SSA News article – she will be happy to help you:

One Family’s Hurricane Harvey Story, as it Unfolds

SSA board member Dennis Rodgers (Forever Foundations in Irvine, CA) is very involved with family members who went through the Hurricane Harvey ordeal in the Houston area.  He provided us with an up-close-and-personal view of what happens to somebody experiencing this level of catastrophe.  This is what he told us in these weeks following Harvey:

“My brother, nephew, and ex sister-in-law all are or were underwater. My brother’s house was under 6-7 foot and will be 4-6 weeks before water recedes. He has been told that his house is totaled. My brother is 76 years old, and basically, overnight, homeless.  Neither he nor any of his neighbors have flood insurance since the area never had flooded.  He has already worked and met with his adjuster, a guy who my brother has known for 30 years.  His house cannot be repaired and will need to be completely torn down and rebuilt.  Everyday, they are continuing to clean, gut, remove, and dwell in the pit of destruction.  It's with them constantly.”

Rodgers initially told us, “My nephew will begin soon with the actual reconstruction (he has insurance, not sure of his deductible) and could be back living in his rebuilt, remodeled home in two months.  He's not sure if he will sell or rent out and move. Also, they know flooding in their neighborhood is a problem and that the cost of insurance is going to skyrocket.  But, all in all, he's in relatively good shape.”  However, the most recent update decreases the family’s optimism:  “My nephew is stuck, on hold because the insurance check he received thus far was for $6000 and his claim is exceeding $100,000.  He's not sure about when, or the amount of the next check.  He can't begin the reconstruction and is now on hold still living with relatives.”

The third family member affected also has a flood policy, however getting reimbursed for her damages is more complicated than she realized it would be.  “My ex-sister-in-law has insurance with $60,000 deductible, and has gutted and removed what she can.  Her insurance, since she lives in a condominium, is in conjunction with the other units.  Not sure how that works.  She says that in her case, she must list the losses, (not only of the house, but also the contents), prove the value and the purchase of the contents, and then the values are based on the age of the contents.  I guess the documentation is a nightmare, and takes months and months if not years to get settled and the check written.  My sister-in-law is probably going to do it herself, and forget the insurance.  She only had 2 inches of water but they still have to go up about 4 feet for repairs - which means all of the flooring, cabinets, furniture on the floor up to 4 feet, must be replaced.”

Says Rodgers, “The concept of insurance is fine, but the way it's implemented can actually cause many individuals and businesses to give up, close up.  I saw the former head of FEMA say in an interview on CNN that that on average, 40% of business damaged by flooding/hurricanes go out of business because they can not hold on for the time it takes to get their insurance check.”

Rodgers continues, “Since my brother had no flood insurance, he purchased a 25 foot RV trailer to park in the driveway while he decides his own future and that of the house.  For right now, he's fine.  He must shower with bottled water for the water system is contaminated and the sewage/treatment plants are not working yet, so he assumes the sewage is just being dumped into the Gulf/Rivers/Streams.  That issue will definitely take some time.  If you drink water from the tap, it must be sterilized first.  People are learning that the hard way.  There have been concern about vandalism, but being in Texas, it is not a problem at this point because people are armed (A) and (B) lots of police and guardsmen are patrolling the streets. He contacted the local constable (his buddy) and informed him that he's living in the trailer next to his house, so they are checking on him regularly and he has the constables cell number, plus he's armed.  All of these things you have to think about.  So right now my brother is living in the trailer with ‘all the comforts of home, including DISH’, but the nightmare of this existence is overwhelming.  He said that people are just slowly going through the motions of moving on, but are really not, because nothing is really happening.  Some people are moving into their second story with the bottom floor virtually wide open.”

Speaking to the plight of those without flood insurance, Rodgers explains that his family is hopeful.  “My brother had a FEMA government official come and visit him the Saturday after the storm and there is reason for some optimism in his case.  There is a federal program for those without insurance that helps those that are Veterans.   They did a complete exam of his house and will get the proposal sometime next week.  This program is different in that they don't write a check to the individual, they have bonded FEMA contractors from across the USA that come in and rebuild the houses.  He will not know all the details until he actually sees the proposal himself, timing, cost, etc.  My brother is a Viet Nam Vet, wounded several times, still has shrapnel. On his last mission his helicopter crashed and crushed vertebrae in his back.  He is classified by the military as 100% disabled. For the past 10-15 years he has had severe problem with his back.“

Rodgers finished his recount, “One other item, the local churches have been fantastic in helping, aiding, being there for the community and the individual.  My bother had a group from a Baptist Church out of Spring, TX where my nephew lives by coincidence, and spent three hours completing the gutting of my brother’s house, then went next door and so on.  He said they worked their butts off."  

He continued, "Also worth noting, churches have been denied for FEMA assistance to help rebuild (FEMA loan assistance).”

Thank you Dennis for sharing your family's story with us.  It certainly brings home the real challenges that people face in these circumstances.  We encourage everyone to contact their insurance agents to understand what is covered in their policies, and HOW it is covered.

Sleep Industry Opportunity to Help Disaster Victims

Hurricane Harvey Project needs Corporate Donations

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Relief Bed International, an SSA Member Company founded in 2015 with a goal to provide better sleep to victims of natural disasters and to humans challenged by homelessness, has a way we can donate to the Hurricane Harvey victims. We can trust our donation will really get to the people in need!
Harvey Matching Project
Through a generous donation from Bekaertdeslee Solutions ( Relief Bed is able to match up to 500 beds to their relief partners in the impact zone. "This partnership will address an immediate need in the area for sleeping surfaces" say founder Scott Smalling.  Relief Bed International is currently working with Food For The Hungry ( who are assisting Orphan Care Solutions who are on the ground in Texas.  OCS is working hard with foster homes and group homes for the purpose of keeping siblings together. Smalling says, "Currently there is a significant risk of the state separating siblings based on the flooding damages to group homes and host homes."

To Donate go to or mail checks to PO Box 503 Tacoma, WA 98401. 

Thank You! Please contact Scott Smalling for more information about a corporate donation towards their Hurricane Harvey Project or to learn more about their overall Giving Program (to date they have donated and distributed over 7,000 beds through international relief agencies around the globe and to homeless shelters in the United States). 

Giving Program
Part of the vision for Relief Bed International was to create a turn-key vehicle to help suppliers, manufacturers and retailers in the sleep sector create a Giving component to their companies which not only motivates their customers to purchase it also creates long term brand loyalty.  Another reason to partner with Relief Bed International is that they work with you directly in your market unless you are choosing to fund a specific event like a natural disaster here or abroad.   Hence, when you fund beds through their giving program they help you find the perfect partner in your selling region so you can keep your donations local.  This is not only successful for your local brand, but also a great opportunity for your team to get out into the community they serve. 

Thank You - our industry has a big heart - together we can make a difference!



Specialty Sleep Association Hosts 29 Exhibitors at Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market

Press Release June, 2017      Celebrating 12 years of continuous presence at the Las Vegas Furniture Market (and decades of annual trade shows before that), the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)  once again hosts a room filled with different brands and manufacturers in Showroom 1565 of Building C at the World Market Center, July 30 – August3, 2017.  SSA Executive Director Tambra Jones confirmed that the SSA has once again sold-out all its exhibit space with 25 returning exhibitors and 5 brand new exhibitors reaching out to retailers at the Las Vegas show as members of the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA.) “We continue to serve as an advocate, a marketing platform for new companies, and support for expanding entrepreneurial companies,” says Jones.

The five new exhibitors include:  Cariloha, makers of what they call “the
Softest Bedding on the Planet”; iAdjust Sleep Products, makers of unique and distinct adjustable beds; Kymdan latex rubber mattresses and pillows; uKnead; makers of the ultimate luxury in Massage Chairs, and The Futon Shop will return with their bio-friendly futons and mattresses.

Cariloha invites retailers to “get ready to bring your customers a sleep experience that's comfier, cleaner and cooler than anything else on the planet” with the Las Vegas Market introduction of The Cariloha Bedding Suite. These new-to-the market products feature “Unique Viscose from Bamboo based memory foam” mattresses, specialty pillows, as well as duvets, sheets, and a fantastic fixture program to help retailers sell in the store.

iAdjust Sleep Products will offer three new introductions for this Vegas market. These include: The1Bed - the perfect adjustable firmness mattress with an adjustable wireless base built into the mattress engineered to work perfect on any flat surface (box spring, platform bed, or RV); the i-Rise Adjustable base features a 9 inch vertical lift making it much easier for anyone to get in and out of their bed at home; and the i-Organic Mattress by iAdjust is a layered system with a removable cover making it easy for the consumer to change the feel of their GOTS and GOLS certified organic mattress for years. iAdjust will have two business card drawings on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for $500 each. To enter simply come by and drop off a business card.

 Kymdan will debut pure natural latex mattresses and pillows featuring a unique, proprietary processing and molding technology for USA retailers. These distinctive latex mattresses and pillows with Kymdan’s fifteen unique features, offer exquisite comfort, elasticity, and resilient body support. Kymdan’s mattresses have been certified by several globally recognized, prestigious organizations for product quality and safety.

The Futon Shop, (TFS) tell us they are a national leader in natural futons, mattresses, pillows and shikibutons, which are handcrafted in San Francisco from USDA organic cotton, GOTS certified organic wool, GOLS certified organic latex, organic buckwheat hulls and natural coconut coir. They invite retailers “to the place where organic meets comfort at an affordable price”. 

uKnead invites retailers to experience the ultimate luxury in uKnead Massage Chairs. The company will introduce their all new hybrid Lohas model at the market. The new Lohas has zero gravity positioning, slumber program, innovative body detection technology, full cocoon air enclosure, and of course, deep tissue therapeutic massage programs. Combining advanced massage robotics with unparalleled aesthetic design, the uKnead Lohas will be sure to take your breath away.

In addition to these five new exhibitors, Jones invites retailers to visit 25 returning companies and organizations featuring new, refined or expanded sleep products in the SSA Showroom. Some of these participants include:

Danican will be introducing new pillow and mattress protectors. Because they believe that the benefits of always using protectors for your pillow and mattress are significant and should therefore be visually tangible and pleasing to the eye, Danican has streamlined their graphics and switched up their packaging to create a more contemporary and fresh new look for the company’s two popular protector lines – Nature Protect® and SilverTECH Ag4X®. 

Electropedic will feature the company’s Body Sense, the world's first double laminated cooling protector.  It has advanced cooling technology and is waterproof.

ErgoLifeis creating an introductory push this market.  They will showcase three new products  delivering what they say is an “unmatched level of body alignment through a combination of box-springs, pocket‐springs, foams and inserts in the undersurface of each bed, that are all fully adjustable to meet each individual’s needs, weight and height.” 

Their new products include: ErgoLife Zero Stress, suitable for most individuals. The base comes fitted with dials, adjustable slats and fully upholstered in a range of colors. It provides adjustable shoulder, lumbar and hip zones for zero stress and can be fitted to most existing bed frames. The ErgoLife Active, for medium to heavy weight individuals, features double-sided Bonnel springs, soft shoulder, Euro Top comfort layer and a built in ergonomic support.  Finally, the ErgoLife Contour: for medium to lightweight individuals, featuring single or double-sided Pocket spring, extra thick Euro Top comfort layer and built in ergonomic support. Buyers can choose from Dunlop Deluxe or Enduro Foam, pure latex or gel infused memory foam inserts.

Lifestyle Covers:  Longtime show veteran Lifestyle Covers will be featuring their huge selection of new & exciting fashionable futon cover fabrics, and will offer show-exclusive sales.

Naturepedic will feature the  latest in GOTS and GOLS certified organic sleep products, including some new prototype luxury mattresses. The company will also have a broader focus on kids mattresses, headlined by the Verse, which features a roll-packed design for more convenient stocking and shipping. The company makes organic mattresses for adults and children as well as accessories such as waterproof pads, pillows, and sheets. All Naturepedic products are made without harmful chemicals for a healthier night’s sleep.

Noctova Sleep will be introducing their new Hybrid Innerspring program this market. 

Palmpring Organic Mattress will  return with their chemical free mattresses, pillows, and sectional sofas manufactured in Los Angeles, using certified organic latex and recycled coconut husk fiber sourced from India. They offer hypoallergenic, germ, insect and mold resistant products.

REMarkable Pillow will be introducing their “Extraordinary 10 buck Hotel Pillow”.  This 100% “Made in the USA” pillow has high quality shredded CertiPur Gel foam with a beautiful Designer Cover.  It is machine washable and dryable as well. 

Royrack Co is introducing new color choices this summer, so retailers can choose their own color of a Select-A-Mat mattress display system for retailers.  Another new option is an "assembly required" Select-A-Mat, that will give retailers new pricing options.  

Sleep & Beyond is a 3rd generation family owned manufacturer of organic and natural bedding who will be introducing their New myTravel Pillow, which is a 3-in-1 ultimate 100% natural and adjustable travel pillow filled with 100% washable pearl sized woolly puffs, and wool fill and covered in 100% natural cotton Sateen.  They will also feature their New myComforter light, which is filled with 100% washable wool and encased in 100% natural cotton sateen, and ideal for someone who is looking for an eco-friendly comforter and lives in a warmer region or their bedroom temperature cool. This comforter quickly wicks away moisture without making you feel cold and clammy. Finally, the company will feature their organic cotton sheet sets. From seed to shelf, this organic cotton is grown and processed free of pesticides, harmful dyes, and carcinogenic chemicals. It is certified organic according to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the international stringent standard for organic textiles.

Smartwerks invites retailers to “Improve the key areas of your sleep store with Smartwerks cloud-based Point of Sale, Inventory, and Accounting solution. Process sales and deliveries faster, bring in more customers, and spend less on inventory. Using their extensive analytics tools, retailers will increase bottom-line profits by making smarter buying and selling decisions. Unlike many of the over-simplified products out there today, Smartwerks is “a fully-integrated, complete software package that is equipped to handle the specific needs of the sleep industry." 

The Supernal Sleep System, a division of US-based Transfer Master Products, Inc., is a company that provides what they say is the first holistic bedding solution for today's Baby Boomers, using proprietary technology. They offer an adjustable bed designed with special "state of the art" features, including a simple ergonomic, illuminated wireless hand control, wall hugging action, a European style "head tilt" to cradle the pillow, and the option to vertically elevate the bed up to 10 inches.  

Thomashilfen features German-engineered, patented technologies using the sleepers’ weight to personalize the comfort of each Thevo Bed. Either side of the European Split Queen or Split King sizes can be customized depending on the firmness preference and weight range of the sleeper. Consumers simply visit the company’s website, select their mattress size, preferred firmness rate, and reference Thomashilfen’s recommendation for their body type. Every component of the mattress is altered to fit each sleeper’s needs. Thomashilfen says their Thevo beds provide grade-A, restorative sleep for each sleeping partner. 

U.S. Sleep Products ™ will be introducing their new SwanZey ™ line of mattresses and Cooling Touch pillows. These new mattresses include latex, gel, memory foam, pocket coils, Italian fabric, and a beautiful bamboo cover. New memory foam cooling touch pillows are offered in both gel and ventilated holes, both with a cooling ice fiber washable cover.

W. Silver Products manufactures bed frames and adjustable beds at their family owned plant in Texas.  WSP offers retailers a complete line of bed frames and adjustable beds, with retail price points on adjustable beds ranging from $799 in queen up to $1,299.  All orders are shipped in 48 hours.

For more information on the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA)  Showroom C-1565, Membership, or on, contact Tambra Jones , SSA Executive Director at: or Dale T. Read, President of the SSA at:;  

SSA Sponsored free Retailer Workshop at Las Vegas Market - Summer 2017

As a further expression of the SSA’s commitment to independent mattress and bedding retailers, we sponsored a FREE Workshop at the Las Vegas Market on Tuesday afternoon, August 1st.  The room was nearly filled to capacity. Jeff Giagnocavo, Co-owner of Gardner’s Mattress & more in Lancaster, PA was the featured presenter. He zeroed in on key retailer concerns addressing “How Today’s Independent Retailers Can Achieve Success with High Impact , Low Budget Advertising and Marketing.”  At the end of the presentation, the SSA gave out a FREE special edition of Jeff’s book entitled; “77 High Impact, Low Budget Tip To Sell More Mattresses Easily.”

We hope this is just one example of the SSA reaching out to,  and supporting mattress and bedding retailers. It is our plan to do more programs of this or similar nature in the future with a focus on helping our retailer members.

Click here for the Presentation Slides offered at this workshop

SSA President Dale Read talks about “hybrid” beds

In early April, Executive Editor of Furniture Today David Perry wrote a most informative piece in the “Mattress Math” column entitled, “Four reasons why hybrid beds are sizzling at retail.” No need to repeat Dave’s report on median best–selling hybrid prices at specialty stores and furniture stores or the important role that hybrid bed sales have played in increasing retailer sales (if interested, we encourage you to read Dave’s column in Furniture Today.)  The point Dave makes is clear that sales of hybrid beds give retailers a needed boost in sales volume and price points.

With this point in mind, as someone steeped in Specialty Sleep, I’d like to suggest that hybrids are not adversarial to specialty sleep products, but rather are a compatible entity that makes use of BOTH the latest innerspring designs and technology, as well as the innovative materials and design features of specialty sleep products. Hybrids are not just traditional innersprings with a fancy name. They embrace both the newest in innerspring advancements and a whole variety of specialty sleep components including latex rubber; memory foam; highly-engineered polyurethane foams; European-influenced designs;  gel columns and gel foams; natural and organic materials;  adjustable and uniquely designed bed-bases, platforms and support systems; phase-change materials and a whole host of textile covers that offer the latest performance features. The hybrid market today is a melding or amalgamation of the traditional innerspring mattress technologies and the wide variety of special sleep innovations listed above.

To make my point, let’s turn the clock back to the early-to-mid 1990’s. Approximately 92% of all North American mattresses sold were traditional innerspring mattresses featuring three or four basic innerspring or coil designs (Marshall, LFK, continuous or encased coil) with a quilt or some kind of foam or cotton comfort layer.)  These were not a joining of two or more technologies, but basically innerspring beds with a topper layer and a ticking or cover. At that time an estimated 8% of the mattresses sold fell under the new specialty sleep umbrella including waterbeds, airbeds, latex rubber beds, Swedish foam (memory beds), all natural cotton, wool beds and a few gel column beds as well as various types of futons.  Many of these technologies and new bedding companies first appeared on the market at the then Specialty Sleep Association and Futon Association shows held around the country each spring(in Las Vegas every other year prior to the Las Vegas World Market Center.)  During the 1990’s and well into the 2000’s , the specialty sleep categories boomed. Memory foam, airbed and latex rubber sales grew like crazy.  Gel foam, phase-change materials, performance chemistry such as Celliant, and a whole variety of materials with natural, green or health and wellness features advanced both through the innovative companies, as well as process of acceptance, then advocacy by the largest mattress companies.  (The adoption of the memory foam and gel swirl technology by Serta comes to mind.)

At the same time, as the specialty category was exploding in sales, the traditional innerspring designers and marketers fully redesigned and updated their innerspring technology to offer a vast variety of innerspring choices for mattress models. They also had the wisdom to not simply market against specialty products, but to marry specialty features and benefits with their new high technology innerspring designs; and in doing so, they created the new category of the “hybrid” bed, offering consumers the advanced features and benefits of both mattress technologies. Consumers could receive both the resilient support and push back of springs, as well as the conforming and enveloping embrace of various foam and textile technologies.

The fact is this melding of innovations and technologies is by no means completed. At every show, we at the SSA have the fun and the privilege of seeing new entrepreneurs and innovators introduce such things as performance textiles, 3D-string fabric construction, new foams, European bed support systems, heating and coolant systems, healthier and safer, well as sustainable and “organic.” mattress and bedding solutions.

So more than anything else, we see the “hybrid” phenomenon as a catalyst and an opportunity to move forward encouraging our members to introduce new ideas and to expand existing platforms. As one observer said to me, the explosion of the next round of specialty sleep solutions to enhance consumers’ lives is right around the corner. It will depend upon the introduction and advancement of the newest idea (the next memory foam…). Could it be suspended silicon gel mattresses? Or how about air flow suspension? A new combination of springs and air? Who knows for sure? It will come at some point, and we at the SSA will be ready to host, advance and promote the next innovation in sleep

SSA 2017 Member Survey

We really do care about what you think as a member of the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA). Your opinions, suggestions and ideas are important to us. In order to help us understand you better, we sent out a questionnaire to 77 of our active members. We heard back from 31 out of the 77 members giving us a 40% survey response, which by the way is a very representative sample size, and gave us some valuable information.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents told us that they became and remain members because of the SSA Showroom opportunities.  Twenty-two percent said we offer them “general support” within the industry (such as sharing information and industry engagement), and 13 percent stated they like the networking opportunities offered by the SSA. A few mentioned that they were attracted to the SSA’s promotion of marketing “transparency”  (the Bedfax® Program.)

Ninety-three percent of the respondents said they would recommend the SSA to others, really citing the Las Vegas Showroom(this was universal whether a retailer, a supplier or a manufacturer), as well as networking, social and general member support by the SSA staff.

Although the majority responded that there was nothing they would change about the SSA, there were a few who would like to see more offered to retailers, and some would like some innovative marketing ideas for SSA Showroom buyer retention (keep them in the showroom longer.)  Some suggested ideas including more catered hospitality events or a traffic-building, social event.

When specifically asked what they liked the most, 39% of the respondents clearly stated the showroom.  Offering your SSA team a reason to smile, 42% of you cited the SSA Staff (Tambra, especially) as your favorite aspect of the SSA.

For those of you who raised such issues as post market follow-up, greater outreach and communication, more networking and involvement, know that we are planning to expand this newsletter over time, that we are building a stronger, more inviting website, that we are using Facebook and other social /new media more and more. Also we are planning to bring more relevant speakers to the market who can address current mattress / bedding “retail” issues.

The SSA Staff and the BoD thank all of you who participated in the SSA survey. We thank you for the support you have shown us, and we will look at each suggestion offered thoughtfully.

By the way, if you’ve made a suggestion or have a project in mind that will enhance the SSA, and you’d like to step forward as a volunteer / leader, please reach out to us.

We look forward to seeing you at the Summer Las Vegas market.

Stop in to see us as C-1565….       

Dale Read -  President, Specialty Sleep Association