Tuft & Needle is trying to get your attention for good reason. They’re coming to the Kansas City area and they say they have a better way to buy a mattress.
Founded in 2012 by John-Thomas (JT) Marino, 32, and Daehee Park, 29, Tuft & Needle (T&N) is leading the revolution against unfair mattress markups, commission-based sales models, and information asymmetry by creating exceptional, honestly-priced products.
“I had just gotten married and set out to buy our first piece of furniture together–a new mattress,” Marino recalled. “The search began at local mattress showrooms where vast fields of mattresses were neatly laid out under the buzz of fluorescent lights, and aggressive salesmen pushed us to buy a fully loaded, feature-rich memory foam mattress. For $3,500 it should have been the pinnacle of comfort, but it wasn’t. To make matters worse, the return policy rendered it impossible to return. The entire experience was worse than car shopping—I left feeling ripped-off and tricked.”
Marino shared his awful experience with Park, his long-time college friend and Silicon Valley colleague where both men were employed as software engineers. Unsurprisingly, Park had also had a similar mattress shopping experience–there had to be a better way.
They started by creating a “Hate List” —deceptive store lighting, inflated prices, misleading comparisons, unfair sales tactics, the return process…The list was long. Yet they believed if they could fix only a couple of things they would be onto something.
They fixed a lot.
Since that time, Tuft & Needle—named for an upholstery technique—has become a leading national mattress brand. Initially operating as an online retailer, the company has branched out into brick-and-mortar stores, its newest one opening in the Town Center Crossing shopping center in Leawood this September. The company’s other three stores are in Scottsdale and Gilbert, Ariz., (its corporate headquarters is in Phoenix) and Seattle, Wash.
“We know our online shopping experience is an improvement over typical mattress shopping, but we wanted to fix the in-store experience, too,” explained Anna Johnson, Tuft & Needle’s Head of Retail. “Interacting with our products in-person, in an environment that values relaxation and education over rushed decisions and convoluted information, gives everyone the chance to make the best purchase possible.”
Marino and Park believe it is all about education and debunking mattress myths. Many stores are selling the same outdated materials with fancy names over and over again, but Tuft & Needle created their own unique foam, called T&N Adaptive® foam. The Tuft & Needle mattress is the ideal comfort and support, and is backed by a 10-year warranty. For those looking for a little more, like increased edge support and an additional comfort layer, they recently released their second mattress, the Mint.
“We joke that it’s a mattress so good you’ll want to tell strangers about it!” Johnson said. “Buying a mattress is such a personal purchase, but our customers post on social media and tell their friends how life-changing our products are.”
Unfair and inflated markups were another aspect of mattress shopping to tackle—while still crafting a high-quality product with premium materials. A typical “luxury” mattress can cost thousands, but Tuft & Needle mattresses range from $325 to $1,050. They also offer a 100-Night Sleep Trial. If you don’t like your mattress, the T&N team will help donate or recycle it, and the customer receives 100 percent of their money back.
“We believe in honesty, quality craftsmanship and premium products without the gimmicks that don’t cost you an arm and a leg,” said Marino. “It’s the very simple system at the heart of everything we make. All of our mattresses are designed and crafted in the U.S. because we wanted to support American manufacturing, and we are very proud to have earned the lowest published return rates in the industry – less than 5 percent.”
Johnson added, “We have a lot of existing customers in the Kansas City area and based on the fantastic customer feedback, we think more people will be receptive to our concept and come to see for themselves at the new store this fall.”
Company: Tuft & Needle
New store opening in September: Town Center Crossing – 4419 West 119th Street, Leawood, KS.
Prices: The T&N Mattress starts at $325, Mint mattress starts at $650. They also offer a full line of sleep products.