In 1964, Jay Schiller, took over a mattress refurbishing business across the street from his father’s furniture store in Buffalo, N.Y. Not knowing much about mattress repairs, Schiller decided to focus his first retail store on selling new mattresses. At 25, he reached out to a Serta owner and persuaded him to give Schiller a few mattresses on consignment. The first City Mattress was born.
With a strong focus on customer service, Schiller grew City Mattress into a small business success story. Schiller’s guiding principle: to treat people the way you want to be treated. Schiller believed in applying this philosophy to its customers and employees, many of whom have worked at City Mattress for more than a decade. "I've been here half my life," an employee at City Mattress said. "There's no reason to leave. The Schillers treat us like family."
Unlike today, shopping for a mattress consisted of few choices and fewer manufacturers, Schiller recalls. City Mattress pioneered the retail sleep business shopping experience. "Back then there were no mattress specialty stores. We were one of the first," he said. Each store was built around a wide selection of choice, quality product and excellent customer service.
Now in business over 50 years, a rare milestone for any small business, City Mattress finds itself as a constant in the New York and Florida markets. Through the Great Recession, the company had one year of down sales, and two years of flat sales, but it didn't have to cut one job, Stephen Schiller said.
Today, City Mattress has more than 26 stores across New York and Florida. Having grown-up working at the company, Schiller’s two sons have joined in leadership positions, with Marc as the current CEO. Always pioneering, the Schiller's took a leap of faith deciding not to stay exclusively as a mattress retailer, selling the finest brands in North America, but make the move to become a mattress manufacturer, with an ultra-high-end line of mattresses of its own called PranaSleep.
"I'm glad they're including me in some of the decisions," Schiller said, adding they've taken the company to places he never imagined. "They both live it every day."
Launched in 2004, the PranaSleep Brand rapidly became the No. 1 selling brand across all City Mattress stores. The decision to make our own product, was born out of the continued disappointment with high-end mattresses coming from the industry, Stephen Schiller said.
Having moved the headquarters to Bonita Springs, City Mattress recently built a modern facility where the Schiller Family today operates their mattress design, manufacturing and testing business as well all operations for City Mattress stores in New York and Florida. Using state-of-the-art machinery, including a massive industrial quilting machine, PranaSleep mattresses are mostly still built by hand. "We try to do everything we possibly can in-house," Stephen Schiller said, continuing the family’s focus of quality first.
As City Mattress looks forward to the next 50 years, lessons from the recent financial depression have toughened the company’s resolve. We’re more efficient, more disciplined and more creative, Stephen Schiller said. "We get calls all the time, people always want to buy our company," he said. "We're not interested."
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