I’ve known owner, Scott Michelsen, at an acquaintance level for awhile. I know him as the ever-cheerful, outwardly vibrant, bright-eyed guy who never seems to have a bad day. His business, Today’s Bed, began with its Woodbury, MN in 2012.
As I sat across from him at his “office” (display beds on his retail floor), he starts out by stating that Today’s Bed is a “Sleep Solution Provider”. My mind instantly wants to shut down this euphemism sales-speak. I feel an internal eye roll. I glance around at the stark expanse of mattresses surrounding me in the retail showroom thinking “It’s just a mattress store.”
I humor Scott a bit on this Sleep Solution thing and hear him out. It turns out that Scott is very passionate about people getting a good night’s sleep.
Scott’s career started out in Chicago in mattress sales in 1985. From there, he became a regional manager and grew the business from four to 58 stores. As the owners retired, Scott and a partner started their own mattress business and grew it to 90 stores. After ten years, Scott divested and became a “Sleep Shop” (insert internal eye roll) consultant overseas and domestically. It was during this time, while providing Sealy with a market analysis on the Twin Cities, that Scott’s non-compete agreement expired and he decided that this was a great place to live and open up his own store- Today’s Bed.
Today’s Bed’s motto is Sleep for a Better Tomorrow and he means it. He goes on to say “We (society) are stuffing our days with more and more things. Quality of life gets more important. Sleep suffers.”
As I sat and listened I learned about the repair, recovery, and physiological changes that take place while sleeping and about the 8 sleep cycles. I was fascinated by the difference between back and side sleepers and how the pressure and support points are different for each which makes a difference in which mattress will provide the best support for both. And by the time Scott talked about his proprietary Fit4Dreams Sleep Solution program, I was definitely sold on a Sleep Solution vs. a mattress purchase. This program tailor fits the right mattress to the right person or two people, as it were.
So here we are talking about the science of sleep, how Today’s Bed carries all major brand mattresses, and how they take the guess work out of an important purchase. And I get it. I get how this independent, local retailer really offers an expert customer service experience that separates them from the competition. As Scott puts it “We’re for real. Our customer service is old-school. People experience it. Our customers experience light bulb moments.” I experienced that myself in the conversation.
So, here is where it gets (more) interesting. The conversation turned to his son, Scotty. I’ve met Scotty on several occasions. Scotty is in high school and has autism. He helps his dad in the store and has even been known to wave those “Memorial Day Sale” types of signs at the intersection. Scotty is bright and outgoing- kind of like his dad. He likes the idea of being able to make money for the things he wants. Scott says that he and his wife have invested a lot in supporting Scotty succeed. Scott even developed a sensory mattress with a manufacturer that takes into account the deep touch pressure hug technology that Temple Grandin, autistic herself, pioneered. My mind is practically blown. “Scott- don’t you see that this is a niche that customers want?” I ask incredulously. Even though a percent of the proceeds of the sensory mattresses go to autistic causes, Scott is hesitant to promote his personal life in this way with Today’s Bed. I understand his concern- I’ve had it myself as a solo entrepreneur- and I still think it is an amazing product that people want to know about. Haters are gonna hate. Scott says the mattress also is beneficial for those who have suffered trauma, have fibromyalgia, back pain, neuropathy, nerve damage, spina bifida, or have issues with sensory integration. (Share this story if you know one of those people!)
And that alludes to Scott’s biggest challenge of being an independent Sleep Solution Provider: getting the word out. As Scott says of his competitors “Who’s not going to say ‘We’ve got the best price’ or ‘We’ve got the best selection’?” He acknowledges the low confidence that the public has for retail. He goes on to say that retailers have set up society to expect the least and get the worst and to experience salespeople who don’t care. And not just customers- but employees, too. It has been challenging for Scott to find and inspire staff to be as passionate as he is- a common challenge not unfamiliar to companies of any size. However, in Scott’s career, he has inspired and mentored many a staff member to open their own Sleep Shop, and that has proven very gratifying for him.
The things that Today’s Bed are doing right are not going unheard. With an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and very impressive social media reviews, word of mouth is the number one sales driver. I expect that Scott’s drive to learn and do more as captain of his ship will continue to lead the course to ever comforting, supporting, pressure adjusting, and spinal aligning waters (and no, Today’s Bed does not sell water beds).