Small Business

Beds run in family of Mattress Galaxy owner

Derek Blades, owner of Mattress Galaxy, is the third generation of his family to own a mattress company.
Derek Blades, owner of Mattress Galaxy, is the third generation of his family to own a mattress company. By Joe Stumpe

People are choosy when it comes to laying out money for a new bed.

“They come in with their own sheets and pillows, come in with their pajamas,” said Derek Blades, owner of Mattress Galaxy.

Blades is used to such behavior, and not just as the owner of a mattress store for the past year and a half. His family’s history in mattresses goes back to 1977, when his grandfather, Ron Blades, started making and selling them, eventually owning five stores.

Derek’s dad, Dan, also owned a store where his son worked until three years ago.

“My dad’s store was Mattress World, so I had to be a little bit bigger,” he said of the name he chose for his store.

The store sells middle- and higher-end mattresses in all the usual sizes – twin, full, queen and king – plus takes special orders for things like custom-size mattresses to fit recreational vehicles. It sells a few frames, including adjustable models designed to relieve snoring, and specialized pillows, but the main focus is on mattresses.

Blades said he’s able to keep his prices low by buying and selling overstocked mattresses. He carries about two dozen different labels, with much of his inventory costing between $200 and $1,000.

“Most stores when you walk in will try to start you at $1,000,” he said, adding that his store offers financing.

Blades, 24, said there was no doubt he was going into business for himself. He started buying and selling furniture online while still in high school.

“I’d get in trouble sometimes in high school for answering my cellphone,” he said.

Blades said his family’s business advice to him was “just to start small. If your business plan is good, you’ll go up. A lot of guys start too big.”

He said most commercial landlords “said I was too young and didn’t want to rent to me.” He eventually found and remodeled a space on West Central with about 2,000 square feet for a showroom and another 1,500 square feet for storage. He said the space “is almost too small already.”

Blades, who has one employee, said he outsources deliveries and some other aspects of his business while concentrating on sales and ordering.

Blades said he went into the family business partly because it’s rewarding. Customers “know they need the product. It’s something that makes their life better.”

The period after people receive their tax refunds is the busiest time for mattress sales, Blades said. Summer is the slowest.

The biggest trend in mattresses is those that include both “memory foam” – a product that Blades said is easier on backs than coils – and gel particles, which help keep people cool while asleep.

“People sleep right through the night better.”

Personally, he said, “I sleep on a big, soft pillow top” – though not at work, he’s quick to add.

“People say, ‘Do you nap all day?’

“I wish.”

Now you know

Mattress Galaxy

Address: 2954 W. Central

Phone: 316-943-9900

Owner: Derek Blades