Picture this: It’s the year 1977. The average price of a new home was $50,000, Apple Computer became a real company, and The Sleep Shop opened its doors. At the time, mattresses were considered appliances and came in three flavors: firm, firmer, and firmest. In addition to mattresses, our first showroom in Lenoir sold wood-burning stoves — which cost about $150 back then.
Fast forward to the mid-1980’s and along with Madonna and neon sweat suits, the waterbed craze was sweeping the nation. This is also around the time when my father, Bill Howell, became part-owner of The Sleep Shop. They opened stores that serviced the surrounding Caldwell, Catawba, Burke, and Wilkes counties. Dad tells a great story about one holiday season when the team delivered 20 waterbeds, and all before Christmas! (We checked our records — none of them went to the North Pole.)
Just like neon sweat suits, the waterbed craze died out in the early 1990’s and business dried up (no pun intended) so my dad decided to close 2 stores in Burke and Wilkes county that were no longer needed. Bill’s business partner decided to move on while my dad stayed on at the store and expanded our product lines beyond waterbeds to focus on traditional innerspring mattresses and bedding.
In 1997 our family opened the current location here on Hickory Boulevard, and in 1999 I joined the staff to help. Our website launched the following year in 2000. It was originally built to help share more information about The Sleep Shop with local customers. Soon we began getting more and more calls about how customers were finding our specialty and niche items like converter rails, heavy duty bed frames, and bed rails on a new-fangled search engine called “Google”. In fact, we were one of the first businesses to sell these items online to customers across the country.
Today, we surely have a ton of competition from the Big Name Stores, but we stand head and shoulders above them because of our commitment to customer service — both in-store and online. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we carry brands like Serta, iComfort, Kingsdown, and Jamison. Our inventory has grown over the years, and along with traditional mattresses, we also carry luxury adjustable bed bases, and pillow top and memory foam options. It doesn’t stop there, though! We offer all of the bedding and accessories you’ll ever need to dress your nest and get some serious ZZZs.
While trends may come and go (we’re talkin’ to you, Madonna), some things have remained the same: We still take pride in offering our customers a great experience — and a great night’s sleep!