Linus Adolfsson opened up the Madison Avenue location of Hästens Sleep Spa on March 1. By March 10, he closed the store, which sells high-end beds, and the three locations he owns in Los Angeles with his business partner Carl Larsson. His reaction involved unprintable exclamations of woe.
Hästens is a Swedish mattress company that has been around since 1852 and whose least expensive beds cost over $10,000. It’s had the same family leadership for six generations and its wares are slept on by many famous people, whose names Mr. Adolfsson will not share, citing nondisclosure agreements.
If an eager would-be customer listens as Mr. Adolfsson, who is Swedish and whose parents gave him a Hästens as a teenager, gleefully describes the horsehair and flax that goes into building them, one might be convinced that they should be sleeping on one. They are, in short, luxury items.
Something surprising happened after the retail locations closed. “Within about a week we started having more people calling us than we ever had before,” Mr. Adolfsson said. “Many people started to look at their life differently and the small things that become more apparent when the world isn’t spinning as fast. They were home thinking about their beds.”
The pandemic has created, if not a boom in fancy mattresses, certainly a bounce.
“Our mattress sales doubled between Q1 and Q2,” said Ariel Kaye, the founder and CEO of Parachute, which sells one mattress called “The Mattress,” made of wool from New Zealand and pocketed steel coils that costs $1,899 for a queen size. “We have seen growth across categories. It’s been a bit of a hibernation. People have time to research.”
And it’s not just in the higher-priced brands like Dux. At Nest Bedding, a chain of stores headquartered in California whose mattresses start at $449, Christian Alexander, the COO, said he and staff members were scared in the beginning of quarantine.
“We didn’t know how much of a drop off there would be — analysts were saying things could get really bad — but we saw our first uptick in online traffic in the beginning of April. As the months went on, we saw online sales not only made up the difference of our closed brick and mortar stores, but far surpassed their sales, which was astonishing. We had an email uptick in initial sales inquiries, increase in phone call volume to sales line, increase in conversion rate.”
The explanation for this unusual activity seems simple. “People are spending so much time at home and less time and money eating out or going on vacations,” said Mark Abrials, the chief marketing officer at Avocado, a company that makes a carbon-negative mattress, and a vegan one (no wool) that start at $899. “People are putting more money into the home next and other things that make them feel good.”
Philip Krim, the CEO and founder, along with Jeff Chapin and Neil Parikh, of Casper, whose mattresses start at $595, said that “We talk about ‘cozy performance’ internally. The idea is that we’re still doing work, but we want to feel safe, secure and get a good night of sleep.” Sleep is, perhaps, the most basic act of self-care.
“You definitely have the people who have been putting it off for a long time and this was the awakening, if you will,” said Mr. Krim, with a laugh.
The kinds of beds that are selling fast offer insight into 2020 habits. At Saatva, there’s been a spike in adjustable mattress bases. “I think a lot of people work in bed even though they say they’re at a desk or a table,” said Ron Rudzin, the company’s CEO.
“We are seeing a tremendous surge in mattresses for RVs and campers,” said Melanie Huet, the chief marketing officer at Serta Simmons Bedding. “We anticipate future demand to go up because of work remote policies. Americans are relocating to less densely populated areas. Their living space goes up and that triggers new mattress purchases.”
Which also brings up something else the pandemic has brought front and center: class divides. “We have customers who bought a second home or are renting for the summer and want decent beds,” said Craig Fruchtman, who owns the garment center mattress store Craig’s Beds. “Someone who is paying $20,000 a month for a rental definitely has the money for a fresh bed.”
In 2008, Mr. Adolfsson opened his first Hästens location in Los Angeles, on Beverly Boulevard next to a Stella McCartney boutique, just in time for a recession. He was 21 years old and still a student at the University of Southern California studying business and art history. “L.A. had so much wealth. I hadn’t experienced wealth like that, but there was no respect for mattresses. People would come in and learn a bed is, like, 10,000 and be like, ‘You mean it’s one thousand.’ People would be mad.”
Interior designers started buying beds and word got around about their customer service, which included someone who would come to clients’ houses three times a year to flip and massage their mattresses. Los Angeles became the best performing Hästens location in the world for more than 10 years.
Mr. Adolfsson’s pandemic sales upswing was also thanks to an unlikely source: the musician Drake, who appeared on the cover of Architectural Digest on April 8 showing off his home, designed by Ferris Rafauli, in Ontario. One memorable feature of his bedroom was a Hästens Grand Vividus bed designed by Mr. Rafauli that retails for just under $400,000. (Not to be confused with the plain old Vividus, which costs around $200,000.)
“That led us to sell 10 of them in a week,” said Mr. Adolfsson.
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