March 1, 2014 - Marshall Coyle

I am the Old Bed Guy.

Welcome to the Old Bed Guy. I am said old bed guy and have been involved in the bed and bedding industry for over 60 years, and life in general, for more than 83 years. I have seen it all. I constantly shop the web, read trade papers, visit a route of many local stores ranging foreign imports, sleazy chain sleep shops, department and furniture stores, and local factories. For the record, I am based in Manhattan, New York, (not Kansas) and have access to almost every kind of bed store and wholesale showroom. A very few of my old mattress buddies around the country help with out of town information If you are in the market for a bed, bedding, mattress, or bed linen, pay attention.

You are going to learn a lot. Questions encouraged. We have a lot of current information about Aireloom, Shifman, Kluft, Simmons, Sealy, Sleep Number,Charles P. Rogers, St. Regis, Kingsdown, Carpe Diem, Vi Spring, Hastens, Duxiana, Dux,  Stearns and Foster, Leggett and Platt, Serta, TempurPedic, Hotel Mattresses, Keetsa, Saatva, Pin and Needle,  and on and on. We try to stay informed on most store private labels but since most stores private labels are models of inconsistency, the information is less valuable that for real brands. I am happy to personally answer your questions on anything about the furniture business if you write me with your bed and mattress questions. If you want useful mattress advice, I request that you tell me enough about yourself and partner for me to zero in as closely as possible.  I need to know age, height,  sleeping position, physical activity or lack of it, any health or physical reasons that now interfere with sleep, current sleep equipment. Please allow a day or two for an answer.  The most detailed questions tend to get my attention more quickly.

Anyone seriously shopping for a good mattress owes it to him/herself to read the current Consumer Reports mattress test.  Available on the net and worth many times the insignificant membership fee. It is a shame, but they are the only absolutely unbiased mattress reviewers on the net.  The most popular mattress and sleep blogs, especially those with forums, have a paid-for agenda to subtly or not so subtly steer you to a product or website that is invisibly paying for this service.  At least one major site takes generous kickbacks for sending shoppers to a small select group of  sites. “let the buyer beware” now that you know. I don’t say that the only two unbiased web services are The Old Bed Guy and Consumer Reports.  There may be others. Never the less, I have searched long and strong and those that I have found in several years of searching  can be summed up with one word “phony”. I have lived in the New York metro area for more than eight decades and I often recommend Shifman and Charles P. Rogers, two local NY/NJ old time mattress makers not very well known across the country.  Rogers only sells factory direct on the internet and at two bricks and mortar stores.  The NYC store now is about 200 feet from a smaller one that they operated in 1855 and for decades thereafter. Shifman  sells only through a small cadre of fine furniture and department stores which speaks to their fine quality.  New Yorkers in the know have relied on Shifman for about 117 years and Charles P. Rogers, America’s oldest mattress shop, for almost 160 years. Our family has relied on Charles P. Rogers and Shifman for personal use for many generations, occasionally using Beautyrests when a new one came out, or five and six inch thick solid latex foam.

Sealy and Stearns&Foster, both now made on the same assembly lines rarely get a nod from me from personal sleeping experiences and the years and dollars I literally spent buying back these two brands of sagging mattresses. My store policy was to buy back any mattress regardless of a maker trying to avoid responsibility  with a too clever worthless warranty.    “Been there and did that”. When we were retailers we took home every ” new breakthrough” invention or construction to try personally.   If it taught me anything, I learned that the progress was usually verbal.  We did try to like Tempur-Pedic and came close. The first few minutes were always very good.  However, as the unventilated temperature sensitive foam accumulated and responded to our body heat and perceptibly slumped and hardened, we, and anyone else with real memory foam, will find yourself sleeping in a tub inches deep. I was only in my late sixties and even then found it annoying to climb out when I had to turn.  This was at least twenty years ago when they still used genuine Swedish (from Sweden) almost odorless foam. Today’s visco/memory foam(s) seem to be far more gassy than the early versions. If the gas wasn’t formaldehyde related, all it would be is an annoyance for a few months. Never the less, science seems to believe that formaldehyde is cause of liver cancer and OSHA is very concerned about factory ventilation.  No one knows if or how many molecules it takes to start a cancer and since there are so many other things to sleep on, why should you be a test animal?  When you see a memory foam mattress advertised at an unbelievable price, believe it, because of China.  Chinese foamers completely unregulated are shipping container loads of incredibly cheaply made, short-lived, and odiferous , and probably dangerous , Chinese unregulated  version of “memory foam”.  Our laws do not protect you, only your good judgment. In my opinion, natural latex foam, foam that appeared around 1930, when I did, can make a wonderful mattress.  There are some cheap mail or internet order latex mattresses being sold with highly exaggerated claims of their origin and quality.  Still better than any memory foam for health, but not for long-term comfort.  I know of nothing better than natural talalay latex to top off a good innerspring unit when you want the best comfort and support.  Caveat: like all foams, latex is made in a wide range of firmnesses and actual quality  and it is important to know the differences.    Memory foam has a lot of issues and not enough benefits in general for me to recommend it to a reader.  More elsewhere in the OldBedGuy blog. Before you ask me , “which is better, a one sided or two sided mattress”, the answer is “yes”.  I go into detail somewhere else in this blog. There are a few West coast producers such as Aireloom along with  Canadian craft mattress makers that I occasionally recommend when geography is important.   Very often Simmons Beautyrest in their better priced lines are worth recommending for specific body types and health needs.  I don’t profess to know everything and sometimes I rely on a small network of other retired mattress guys to solve a knotty problem.

What I do not do is reveal my real identity as I am rather well known in the home furnishings industry and I do not wish to risk losing friends over my pointed opinions. So let the buyer beware. If you want advice as to how to stay married more than sixty-three years, make money, deal with all the bad news on every front page, I charge ten cents. Advice on dog raising is free. Medical advice questions should be limited to aches and pains. Thank you for reading my blog and please answer the not-too-personal questions above if you want a most useful reply. Marshall Coyle

Bed Buying Tips / Bed History / Bed Value / Bedding / Casper / Iron Beds / Mattresses / Old-Bed-Guy Old-Bed-Guy /


  • Ruth says:

    I have a relatively new (three years old) Shifman mattress called the DaVinci model (368 Coils, 12 1/2 gauge spring, two-sided pillow top with 1 1/2 ” convoluted natural latex foam) boxspring is 80 coils, 9 gauge). The store in NJ where I purchased the mattress is out of business. The mattress is beautifully made but is too firm. How can I soften the mattress? Will a high quality latex topper 2 or 3 inches mean too much latex on the bed? Thank you so much for any advice.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Ruth,
      All Shifman mattresses tend to be too firm, always were, and maybe alway will. They exist to supply mattresses that are made as closely as possible to the mattresses they made 64 years ago when Mrs.Coyle and I got a Shifman Sanopedic extra firm set for a wedding gift. As hard as my desktop. Shifman still uses the same springs in the core but has added latex as filling material. The latex is very high quality and makes the mattress unusually long-lived compared to mattresses filled with wool, hair, or other crushable fibers. All this means that you probably will be keeping it for a while.

      You will be very happy with a natural talalay latex topper. Three inches should do the trick if you buy “soft”. I have found that Amazon, by far, has the best selection and also the best value on the legitimate product.
      Marshall Coyle

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