Dang. We might have to refocus Freethoughtblogs

We’ve been doing it all wrong. I was reading this article about blogs that review goddamn mattresses, which seems to be a big money niche. A guy named Derek quit his job to work full time writing reviews of mattresses on his blog, Sleepopolis.

A Loom & Leaf executive told me they had paid Derek $100,000 in 2016; Nest Bedding’s CEO Joe Alexander said he had paid Derek a multiple of that. “My life changed because of Derek,” Alexander told me. “He made me a millionaire.”

Unfortunately, the competition in the mattress blogging business is intense, with swarms of mattress blogs raking in the moolah. It’s also brutal, with mattress companies suing reviewers for less than glowing reviews, and I tell you, I’m tired of greedy asshats suing me.

Maybe we could rededicate every blog here to reviewing toasters. Or pipe wrenches. Or mopeds. Or wait — private jets! The aerospace companies could send each of us free samples. We might have to do a little rebranding and redesign, but with all that sweet, sweet cash flowing in we might be able to afford it.


  1. cartomancer says

    Whatever you change it to, I’m fairly sure The Vicar will still be able to say something about Hilary Clinton on every thread…

  2. says

    #3: uh-oh. I don’t think saying up front that the industry gouges artists is the right attitude to generate cash from the industry. Pander! Everything is great and glorious! Give me money, Hobby Lobby!

  3. Siobhan says

    @2 cartomancer

    Whatever you change it to, I’m fairly sure The Vicar will still be able to say something about Hilary Clinton on every thread…

    Didn’t you know Clinton sleeps on a spring mat– *gets pulled into nearby bush*

  4. robro says

    PZ @ #5 — Then you could build your own damn Bible museum, and steal artifacts from the Middle East while you’re at it.

  5. starfleetdude says

    This is nothing new. Check out your local foodie magazines and you’ll find glowing reviews of restaurants that pay for advertising in them. The only way you can be sure to get an unbiased review of any product is to get it from a source that refused to take any paid advertising from anyone. Like Consumer Reports, which as it happens did review mattresses last year and rated the Casper mattress among many others. So you can find places that offer truthful reviews, but it’s on you to do your own due diligence and be a savvy consumer.

  6. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    I don’t think saying up front that the industry gouges artists is the right attitude to generate cash from the industry. Pander! Everything is great and glorious!

    Yeah, my wife used to write for a computer magazine, and that was pretty much the approach they had to take. She didn’t get rich off it, but did get some decadent lunches (this was in Spain, so wine and aperitifs included).

  7. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    All I know is if you decide to become TacoReviewBlogs, I’m signing up.

  8. leerudolph says

    PZ, whatever you do, don’t take the “free” private jet! The fuel bills will kill you.

  9. vucodlak says

    I’ve never really thought about it, but it doesn’t surprise me that such blogs exist. The town I currently reside in has seen half a dozen mattress stores pop up in the last 5 years or so. When the first one came to town, I was utterly baffled – a store that sells only mattresses? How long can that possibly last? Then came another, and another, and now we have six. Six stores that sell nothing but mattresses in a town of 35,000. That’s in addition to all the furniture and big box stores that also sell mattresses.

    I wonder: when the mattress bubble pops, how much is it going to fuck up our economy?

  10. blf says

    I was utterly baffled — a store that sells only mattresses? How long can that possibly last?

    I’m having sort-of the same puzzlement where I live, in a coastal village in southern France: At both the weekend outdoor market and the mid-week outdoor market, there are multiple (three?) stalls selling just mattresses. Ok, they are obviously traveling the marketplace circuit, but still… (Having said that, the only place locally I can think of which would have mattresses are the hypermarkets on the outskirts, so the in-centre market stalls are more convenient.)

  11. coragyps says

    Nobody has even mentioned Lil’ Abner yet? He tested mattresses for a living, back before 1960!
    DAYAM, I must be old!

  12. tprc62 says

    #17 vucodlak
    The mattress store phenomenon is pretty interesting. IIRC, it was discussed on the Planet Money podcast. This is the setup:
    – nothing moves in/out of the store, all shipped from central warehouse
    – only employees are salesman on commission
    Selling one/two mattresses a day covers costs/makes money. They do not need to be busy to be profitable.
    Near my house(Chicago area), there are two of the same brand mattress stores within a block of each other. And probably 3 more within 2 miles of those two stores.
    The story on the podcast was when they first bought out a competitor, and planned to close it, but realized they were making money at both stores.

  13. brucej says

    #24 tpdc62

    Interesting, I kind of figured it had to be some sort of money laundering/insurance/finance/bubble scam or something like that…we have one major intersection here in town with a different mattress store on three of the four corners, and the strip mall near my house (with the Bed Bath and Beyond and Frys grocery store as anchors) has two…OF THE SAME STORE. They’re literally a few hundred yards apart, and there’s a different brand across the street.

  14. DanDare says

    Review editions of the bible! You can talk about the covers, typestting, layout, paper quality, handiness or heft of its dimensions. Obviously you would have to avoid discussing its actual content.

  15. psanity says

    robro @ 11:

    Steal? Nah, too much trouble. I’ll build whatever you want in my shop — artisanal artifacts on demand, and I guarantee they’ll look better than that crap at the Ark (f’rinstance). Not being bible-thumpers, we don’t need to steal when we can con the rubes with the fruits of honest labor. Well, mostly honest. Arguably mostly honest.

  16. says

    @#17, vucodlak
    @#24, tprc62

    If they need to sell two mattresses to turn a profit for the day, then the average mattress sales for the day must be at least 1, and is probably closer to 2. If they’re open 6 days a week (Google says the one closest to me is) then that means somewhere between 300 and 600 mattresses a year. If your town of 35000 people has 6 mattress stores, let’s say 7 “mattress-store-equivalents” to make up the big box stores and furniture stores which sell other things too, then that’s 2100 to 4200 mattresses per year. Divide the population by the sales per year, and it means that the average mattress lasts somewhere between 8.3 and 16.6 years. If average sales are higher than that, then the average could be lower without much difficulty.

    The Consumer Reports page which came up when I popped the question into Google says that a mattress “can last up to 10 years” but that as you get older you should consider replacing it after five to seven years, so an average of 8.3 is actually not that unreasonable, which means that if the stores can survive on 2 mattress sales per day, then a town of 35,000 could indeed support around 7 stores (or the equivalent).

    Which makes it even more mind-boggling that they can survive on 2 sales a day. The things aren’t that expensive, unless you really go all-out and buy the ones which have lots of definitely-optional add-ons.

  17. chigau (違う) says

    We got a new mattress a couple of years ago.
    (when the SO had the heart-attack, the bladder-and-bowel-voiding kinda sent that mattress to the land-fill)
    IKEA all the way!

  18. says

    @#31, chigau (違う):

    Wait, I’m confused. You’re upset… because I want to know which specific mattress you like from IKEA? Unless you’re making some kind of oblique joke about not wanting to review mattresses because of the OP, I’m afraid you’ll have to explain a bit more, because I really do not understand what’s setting you off.

  19. blf says

    Vicar@32, Whilst I cannot speak for chigau, I read his comment as a snarky “thank you” for staying on-topic (see, e.g., cartomancer@2 and other comments in this thread), and by doing so, making a genuinely interesting point. Your point seems to also plausibly explain the market mattress stall puzzle (see me@18), albeit I haven’t run the numbers too carefully — indeed, I hadn’t realised mattresses can have such a short-seeming lifetime. Thanks for being on-topic and interesting!

  20. numerobis says

    Mattresses also have low resale value because of the fear of bedbugs (unlike other furniture … which is just as likely infested). So they often get tossed before the end of their life.

  21. numerobis says

    Still, how does a store break even on just a couple hundred bucks a day?

    Two employees and you already spent it all before even paying for rent and utilities.

  22. trog69 says

    I admit to being fodder for the “specialized” websites, particularly audiophile ones. It’s helped me find an incredible deal for high-end headphones for relativesly cheap, along with desktop amp/dac choices ( There are a million of them costing as little as $60 to a few $thousand.)

    It’s hard to find out what are good components even with Amazon customer reviews. These niche sites do a great service for us broke audiophiles.

  23. vucodlak says

    @ numerobis, #34

    When I got a new mattress a few years back, I got it from a local store for a rather hefty price. I agreed to pay it and their delivery fee, with the condition that they’d haul off the old mattress and box spring. They insisted that I contact the Habitat for Humanity Restore people, and get them to take it. I tried to explain that the Restore people wouldn’t want the ancient thing, but the mattress seller insisted I try them first.

    The Restore people were visibly disturbed when they saw my mattress. It could have been the fact that the mattress and box spring were over 30 years old. It could have been the (now highly visible) slashes in the side of the box spring that I’d once used to hide things. It could have been my disheveled and irritable self. But I suspect it was stains that really bothered them.

    They were quite obviously blood stains, and they really were quite large. As in “holy fuck somebody died on that thing” large. I suppose I might have explained that the blood was all mine, stemming from numerous incidents over a period of 20+ years, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. Frankly, I found their obvious discomfiture a little strange, even off-putting. Surely everybody has a few bloodstains on their mattress? What’s the big deal?

    Alas, Restore did not take my mattress. In fact, their representatives left rather quickly. I was forced to contact the store I bought the mattress from, and insist that they haul it off to be buried in consecrated soil, or possibly toss it into a volcano with an ominous name.

  24. says

    @#33, blf:

    Which is all well and good, I’m all for hypocritically normalizing rudeness by disguising it as snark — it’s a practice which never ever backfires, as we can see from the existence of the alt-right — and also of people who want to avoid criticism of intolerably bad and stupid political moves even when those responsible for said intolerably bad and stupid political moves are using the lack of outcry as a justification to double down on those moves, even in the face of evidence that this is going to cause further chaos in the next few elections, but that still doesn’t explain why the huffy post up there at number 31 did not answer the question I asked directly.

  25. wickedlad says


    Nobody has even mentioned Lil’ Abner yet?

    I’m late to the party, but this was my first thought, too. And I’m young: PZ’s age.