Gardner Sisk, president of Gardner Mattress, creator of high-quality, custom mattresses, discusses how his business is handling COVID-19. Gardner Mattress is located in Salem, Massachusetts.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Gardner Sisk, president of Gardner Mattress, which has been making high quality custom made mattresses in Salem, Massachusetts since 1933. Welcome Gardner.
Gardner Sisk: Hey John, how are you?
How Coronavirus Has Affected Gardner Mattress
John Maher: Good, thanks. So Gardner today, we want to talk about how Gardner Mattress is handling COVID-19, the coronavirus. So how did the coronavirus affect Gardner Mattress starting back in March when Massachusetts entered into this shutdown?
Gardner Sisk: Well, John, we were pretty fortunate in the sense that we have a very loyal following. So what happened with us is obviously we couldn’t deliver and we couldn’t have any contact, but we did, at that time, we did a fair amount of pickups and we shipped all over the United States and even somewhat locally in New England. So we kept busy, but it was with a very short crew. We were working one or two days a week and it was mainly for pickups at that time.
John Maher: Okay. And were you still manufacturing mattresses during that time?
Gardner Sisk: We were. We had a skeleton crew coming in, the guys who were really good about helping us out. We sanitized the manufacturing area completely. We had a commercial outfit come in and do both all the sales rooms, but when they opened up and our manufacturing facility next door, the boys all wear masks. Some of them wear even hazmat suits. It was pretty interesting to go over there and watch them manufacture with the gear on.
What Can Customers Expect When Visiting Gardner Mattress?
John Maher: I’m sure. So now that things are starting to open back up a little bit, maybe give us a little update on where things stand now and what a customer could expect if they want to purchase a mattress from Gardner Mattress.
Gardner Sisk: Okay. At this stage, we have all the sales rooms open, limited openings in the Newton and Woburn store, but we’re open three to four days a week. You might check the website. But we, our criteria is, please wear a mask. We have hand sanitizer right at the door. And we give you all your own non woven pad, which is yours to keep, or we throw it away afterwards if you’d prefer. And that goes over the entire mattress when you want to lay down on it and we move it from mattress to mattress as you lay on it. So everything is completely sanitary.
Mattress Manufacturing and Order Completion
John Maher: Okay. Are you back to manufacturing mattresses at your full capacity again now? Or are you still on a limited crew?
Gardner Sisk: John, I’d say we’re probably at about 60%, maybe 70%. We’re very pleased with the fact that we’ve had a lot of phone calls and a lot of interest. I think people are thinking that they’ll spend the money on a mattress rather than other things, because it has some serious longevity and it just gives them peace of mind if they sleep better.
So we’ve been pretty busy and we seem to be getting busier. Best key for us will probably be the end of August. We’ll kind of know where we stand once the PPP is gone.
John Maher: Right. Do you find that right now you’re able to get people’s orders done at the same rate or as quickly as you used to, or are there any delays in terms of if I want a custom mattress and you have to make that for me? Can I expect to wait a long time?
Gardner Sisk: No, not at all. Actually the service right now, if you’re interested in buying bedding is even better than it has been in the past, because there’s not quite as much volume. So we can get the mattress… As you know, everything here is made to order. We don’t take anything out of stock. And we can get it to you a little quicker and we can utilize our ability to customize it even better. Good time to do it is in the next month, month and a half. It looks like we’re going to be getting really busy when the tax free holiday comes. So this would be the time to buy a new mattress from Gardner.
John Maher: And when is that tax free holiday coming up?
Gardner Sisk: I don’t know whether they’ve scheduled it yet. It’s usually around August 19th, third week in August, but I’m not exactly sure the date right at this time. But that’s when we start to get really busy and we’ll get a little backed out on being able to deliver the bedding, probably be in the three week range.
John Maher: Speaking of delivery, what sort of precautions are your deliverers taking in terms of going into a house and removing the bedding that I have now and delivering a new mattress to me?
Gardner Sisk: All right, the boys wear complete sanitary gear. We change gloves for every single delivery. The boys have masks on and booties if the customer would prefer. And if there are any serious issues there, if the boys need to wear a complete suit, we can certainly do that for the customer. We’ll do whatever’s necessary.
John Maher: And I understand that Gardner Mattress now has a new bed-in-a-box option. So how can that help customers who still might be concerned about coming out and visiting your showroom, or maybe even getting a mattress delivery from your guys?
Gardner Sisk: Well, right now I think we’re probably the only manufacturer and retailer in New England that can put an innerspring mattress, pocketed coil mattress, in a FedEx box. And it comes out looking exactly like it’s supposed to, lasts the same amount of time, and the quality is terrific. It took us a while to develop this. Kirk Forsyth spent a lot of time trying to find out how we could compress an innerspring unit. As you know, when you see the bedding online, everything that’s put in a box is usually foam. That’s very simple to do. And we can do that also, even with latex mattresses. But we have the ability to put the innersprings in too, only pocketed coils, not the traditional stuff. But this has been a godsend for us because we ship them all over New England right now.
John Maher: Right, and really you can ship those anywhere at this point, right? You could put those in a box and send those out to somebody in California if they wanted one, right?
Gardner Sisk: Yeah. As a matter of fact, we just sent a couple out to Hawaii and then sent a couple to Bermuda. And it also gives the customer peace of mind too, but it is… We sanitize it before it leaves here. So it’s in great shape when it gets there. You just have to make sure you get it out of the box within a week.
John Maher: All right. Well, that’s really great information Gardner. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Gardner Sisk: Hey, thanks John. I really appreciate it. And please everybody, this is the time to come. We can give you… We prefer not more than two customers or two clients in the sales room at a time. So you can get special service. We’ll give you special attention, and make sure you get exactly what you need.
John Maher: All right. That’s great information Gardner, and visit the website at gardnermattress.com or call 1-800-564-2736.
Gardner Sisk: Thank you.
Disclaimer regarding “made to order” mattresses: While we do not keep a stock of mattresses to sell from our inventory, during our slower times we will pre-make a few of our top sellers in order to stay ahead of orders and avoid long delays. We can and do make the vast majority of our mattresses custom-made to order, especially if you choose non-standard options.