- Mattress Firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday and said it could close as many as 700 stores.
- It is the largest specialty mattress retailer in the United States, with an estimated 3,272 stores, according to Wedbush analyst Seth Basham.
- Last October, Mattress Firm filed a lawsuit against two former employees, a broker, and a group of developers, accusing them of conspiring to push the company to aggressively expand.
It has been an eventful few months Mattress Firm.
In the span of a year, the mattress retailer has been accused by internet sleuths of running a money-laundering operation, announced it would be closing almost 200 stores, watched on as its parent company’s business practices have been investigated, and battled an ongoing lawsuit against two former employees, a broker, and a group of developers, accusing them of conspiring to push the company to aggressively expand and open stores.
On Friday, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced it would be closing as many as 700 stores.
With an estimated 3,272 stores, it is the largest specialty mattress retailer in the US, and it’s not uncommon to find many of its stores right across the street from each other. Increasingly, it has come under pressure as new startups like Casper find ways to improve the experience of shopping for this high-ticket item.
We tested the experience of shopping at one of its stores back in April. Here’s what it was like:
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We visited a Mattress Firm store in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood in April. From the outside of the store, the focus seemed to be on luring shoppers in with deals and financing options.
While our visit to the store was in the mid-morning on a Wednesday — definitely not prime mattress-shopping time — the store was noticeably empty.
In January, a Reddit thread that accused the store of being a front for money laundering went viral. Reddit users claimed that Mattress Firm’s stores are often empty, which they claimed could be a sign of something more dubious. Mattress Firm has denied these allegations.
We also visited two other Mattress Firm stores in New York and found that each one was completely empty during the day. It was almost impossible to go unnoticed, and we were instantly approached by a pushy salesperson who asked lots of questions and was reluctant to leave us to browse.
While some shoppers might find this helpful, their persistence was a little off-putting.
Each mattress was laid out on a bed frame for shoppers to test out. The mattresses were color-coded by firmness, which made it easy to shop.
The mattresses were expensive — some cost over $5,000 for a king size — but shoppers were constantly reminded of the financing options available.
Despite the available financing options, these mattresses are considerably more expensive than the options at bed-in-the-box retailer Casper, where a king-sized mattress, for example, can cost from $725 for a standard mattress and go up to $2,250 for a more technical piece.
The salesperson reassured us that there was a large discounted section on the lower floor.
Discounted mattresses were stacked up in piles for customers to buy then and there.
This is because the company offers a 120-day return period for customers to trial its mattresses. Returned items are then offered to other customers, often at a 50% discount.
These mattresses were still expensive, however. Some cost as much as $700.
The store was huge, and there were areas of unused space. In some parts, you could find boxed-up inventory on display.
There was a second desk area for salespeople downstairs, but no one was present.
Dotted around the store were various sleeping accessories, including specialty pillows.
There were pillow shields available for customers to test out the bedding, which was a nice touch.
We were impressed by the cheap bedding. These sheets were being sold for $10.
These mattress covers came with a 10-year warranty.
It’s clear that the company is taking its new online competition seriously: there were signs discouraging customers from shopping at bed-in-a-box companies.
Mattress Firm launched its own version of the bed-in-a-box, called Tulo, in October 2017. Costing between $390 for a twin and $900 for a California-king-size mattress, these products are aimed at millennial consumers.
The store was easy to shop and well laid-out, and there were a ton of options to try. Still, the stores we visited were very empty, which was surprising given how many stores the chain has in highly concentrated areas. Even with the sales and discount signs, customers didn’t seem to be biting.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.