The first mattress Brooklyn bedding ever sold online was posted on Amazon in 2008. It took six months for the mattress to sell. In fact, John actually forgot about it.
“I got an email from Amazon saying, ‘Congratulations! You’ve sold a product.’ I had to log back in just to remember what I had posted for sale.”
Fortunately for John and Brooklyn Bedding customers everywhere, those days would soon be a thing of the past.
Where it all began
John Merwin, co-founder of Brooklyn Bedding, started his career in the bedding industry as a mattress liquidator of sorts – buying damaged products from a retail chain called Montgomery Ward and reselling them in his own retail stores for a discounted rate. Business was great – that is until Montgomery Ward went bankrupt.
“That brought us to a crossroads. We had to figure out what we were going to do and how we were going to stay in business,” Merwin said.
That’s when John and his business partner, his older brother, approached mattress manufacturers themselves. “We asked if we could buy their closeouts, overstock and damaged products – really, whatever they would sell us.” Eventually, manufacturers started offering to sell them raw materials.
“We weren’t making mattresses at the time, but we started buying raw materials. So we got a couple sewing machines and learned how to make mattresses.”
Fast forward nearly a decade after selling that first bed on Amazon, and Brooklyn Bedding sells an average of 20,000 mattresses every month.
From In-Stores to Online
Brooklyn Bedding’s roots aren’t in e-commerce. In fact, they were industry veterans way before the Amazon launch. They had been in the business since 1999 and operated 12 stores. And they were doing well. Yet, John still felt the inclination to give the online marketplace a shot.
“We didn’t really know what we were doing. This was very early in the internet space. No U.S. manufacturers were selling on the internet. I don’t even know of any that had the roll-pack equipment to get a mattress in a box.”
But John had been observing the Chinese roll-packing mattresses and he decided to figure out how to do it. So he bought a piece of a equipment and learned how to put a mattress in a box himself.
“[When we made our first sale on Amazon], I followed that order all the way through production. I personally drove it to FedEx and shipped it off. I still remember to this day, driving back from dropping it off and thinking about what this could mean to our business – to sell a bed and ship it to New York.”
When we made our first sale on Amazon, I followed that order all the way through production. I personally drove it to FedEx and shipped it off.
Brooklyn bedding takes off
Six months into selling on Amazon, John got a call.
“Amazon called me. They said they wanted to do a recruiting piece on me. They were testing different marketing strategies. So they interviewed me and told me the feature would run on the mattress page on Tuesday. They told me I should see a slight bump in business.”
Well, let’s just say it was more than just a slight bump.
“The guy that ran my factory called me at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on with Amazon?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, why?’ And he told me we had a ton of orders coming in and it’s only 6:30 in the morning. We had never had that many orders.
So I go to get on Amazon and see my face on the homepage.”
From what John had been told, the feature was only supposed to run that Tuesday. “Tuesday business was phenomenal. Wednesday was still pretty good, but it tapered off a bit. By the weekend, things were pretty much back to normal.”
But the following Tuesday, it happened again. For six months on every Tuesday, this same thing happened. You would think that this event unleashed the floodgates we now know as online marketing. But for John, it didn’t. Not quite yet.
“We didn’t fully understand the exposure we were getting. We were working seven days a week, 14 hours a day just trying to keep up with the demand.” There wasn’t time to think about marketing. All that mattered was getting beds on peoples’ doorsteps.
But it still opened up so many doors – we launched more product, started selling on more channels. It was phenomenal what that six-month stretch did for our e-commerce business.”
Developing the Brooklyn Bedding Brand
It was after the Amazon whirlwind that the brand we know today as Brooklyn Bedding really developed.
Contrary to popular belief, the brand name has nothing to do with Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn is actually the name of John’s daughter.
“When it became Brooklyn Bedding, I had two very young daughters at the time – now I have two more sons. It’s a joke in the family – Brooklyn likes to tease that the company is named after her because she’s the favorite.” Lucky for her, Brooklyn Bedding has a nice ring to it.
But John didn’t forget about his oldest daughter, Kayli. He promised to name a bed after her.
“In our retail store, we had a bed named The Brooklyn Bedding Kayli Ultra Plush. The bed didn’t sell very well and was discontinued so Brooklyn likes to give her a hard time.” (Don’t worry Kayli, it happens to the best of us.)
What Makes Brooklyn Bedding Different
Brooklyn Bedding is unique from other brands because they control the manufacturing of all their beds.
“From the sourcing to making the coils – we are able to put a higher quality product together and still be one of the lower priced options out there. I feel like we offer the most bang for your buck in the market,” John told us.
When John entered the mattress industry in 1999, there wasn’t an option to sell beds online. But the experience of operating retail stores for nearly 20 years has been invaluable and gives them an edge over some of the younger brands in the marketplace.
“When some of these other companies launched, they only offered one mattress online. Now they are realizing to win in the market you need to be an omnichannel. That’s where the industry is going. Eighty-five percent of people still want to try their bed in a physical store. Brands that are able to give people that experience are the ones that are going to win out in the end.”
John still designs all Brooklyn Bedding beds to this day. He currently sleeps on the Brooklyn Aurora mattress. “I absolutely love that bed. It’s the longest I have slept on a mattress. I can honestly say it’s the best bed I have ever built. Within a month of its launch, it became our best-seller.”
That’s saying a lot for John, considering his history of switching out his mattress every month. “It would drive my wife nuts,” he told us.
Get to know John
Mattress John Sleeps on
The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora. “I absolutely love that bed. It’s the longest I have slept on a mattress. I can honestly say it’s the best bed I have ever built. Within a month of its launch, it became our best-seller.”
John’s number one tip for buying a mattress
“You spend a third of your life on your mattress. Make sure you invest in a quality mattress that meets your sleep needs.”
What john hopes his mattress accomplishes for customers
“We are hoping they are getting better sleep. Better sleep leads to a healthier lifestyle.”