LEGACY OF CATALOG SALES – AMAZON OF THE OLD ERA
When it comes to mattress and bedding sales, it is important to point out several facts that the reader may not be aware of—catalog sales by great companies like Sears, JC Penney, and Montgomery Ward were long time propagators of innovative new mattresses including airbeds, waterbeds, and a large assortment of foam bedding.
This was an age before the internet, personal computers, tablets, and smart phones—but the catalogs reached nearly 100% of American consumers with 100,000 products including bedding.
Sears, in particular, promoted innerspring and foam bedding as good choices at each price point. If you take a look at the catalog sections I have provided from their 1969 and 1977 catalog, you will see some highly advanced foam products. Sears, unlike other companies, owned their foam supplier—Lifetime Foam, and so had an equity stake and a highly profitable business in foam.
During the period from 1949-1980, many bedding brands offered foam mattress in their product lines. But it was the catalog sales that kept foam bedding near a 6-10% share of overall industry bedding sales.
As another note, Simmons Company manufactured 75-80% of Sears private label Sears-O-Pedic innerspring mattress and Sealy produced the rest. You may observe in the front page of the 1977 Sears catalog the Sears Imperial Sears Best—an innerspring mattress using the Nachman patent design wherein Simmons manufactured an open coil perimeter and then inserted pocket coils inside—all per Sears specifications. This mattress was a high quality, unique innerspring—unlike any hybrid pocket coil mattress ever produced in the USA—by Simmons.
Read the History of the Sears Catalog (PDF)