CHAMPAIGN — Over the last 25 years, Mike Namoff has made a name for himself as owner and pitchman for This Is It Furniture.
Now he's opening a new store — this time concentrating on mattresses.
The new shop: Mattress Boss Super Center Outlet, which opened June 1 in the former Goodwill location at 1102 N. Prospect Ave., C — just north of Judah Christian School.
The store carries mattresses by Bemco, The Bed Boss, Simmons Beautyrest and Sealy Posturepedic, as well as several lines from Comfort Solutions: King Koil, Extended Life, Laura Ashley and iMattress.
"This Is It Furniture has mattress sets that go up to $1,900, and this (store) covers all those spots and keeps going," said Namoff.
At Mattress Boss, queen mattress sets range from $799 to $7,999, Namoff said. The most expensive is an "adjustable lifestyle" bed that raises and lowers the head and feet — like a hospital bed — and also has a vibrator function.
Namoff, 42, said it's long been his dream to open a higher-end mattress store.
"There are so many choices that were not there 10 years ago," Namoff said.
The selections include:
— iMattresses with cool gel that disperses body heat.
— Mattresses from The Bed Boss that have "green" components, including aloe vera, castor oil and bamboo.
— Extended Life mattresses with wood and heavy-gauge steel to support heavier people.
— Laura Ashley mattresses with tufting that keeps mattress layers from shifting.
— Traditional versions from Springfield-based Bemco, for those who like to flip their mattresses.
The mattress business is familiar to Namoff since This Is It Furniture sells "thousands" of beds for student housing. Now, he said, developers of new student housing are showing interest in higher-end beds.
That's logical, Namoff said, because the two pieces of furniture that students remember are their beds and their sofas.
Locally, Mattress Boss faces competition from furniture stores and local mattress manufacturers. But the overall market for mattresses is growing.
The International Sleep Products Association expects the number of mattress units shipped to grow 3.5 percent this year and 3.4 percent next year, said Karin Mahoney, the Alexandria, Va.-based association's director of communications.
The value of those shipments is expected to grow even faster — 7.2 percent this year and 6.6 percent next year, she added.
Mattress Boss is Namoff's seventh store. He already operates This Is It Furniture at Champaign's Country Fair Shopping Center, as well as This Is It stores in Danville and Rantoul.
With his brother Dave, he owns Rooms Direct stores in Bloomington and Washington (just east of Peoria), as well as a Beds Direct store in Bloomington.
Other family members are also in the furniture business. Brother Dan owns the This Is It Furniture store in Lockport (north of Joliet), and Mike's uncle, Joe Namoff, operates Crazy Joe's Best Deal stores in Rockford and Janesville, Wis.
Mike Namoff said he hopes to open other Mattress Boss stores in central Illinois and is eyeing Mattoon, Decatur and Kankakee as possible sites.
"I want to be the Jimmy John's of the mattress business," he said.
Managed by Mike Clouse, Mattress Boss is designed to be a store where customers can buy mattresses and get them fast, he said.
With the purchase of a mattress set, customers get free delivery, a free bed frame and free removal of the old mattress, he said. Steel components of the old mattresses are recycled, he added.
Namoff said he feels the mattress business is one that can withstand competition from online retailers.
"Online has hurt a lot of industries, but not bedding," he said. "People want to see what it's like."
Namoff said he's in the initial stages of putting together a "mattress domino" event in which he hopes to set a new Guinness record.
The event, he said, involves standing up hundreds of mattresses with a person between each mattress — then toppling the first mattress and setting off a chain reaction, with each person getting a soft landing.
Namoff said he'd like to top the record, perhaps by lining hundreds of mattresses along Green Street and using student volunteers.
The event will likely be a charitable fundraiser, he added.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT MATTRESSES
Most popular size?
— Queen-size mattresses accounted for 38.3 percent of the innerspring mattresses shipped during the 2010-11 season. The next most popular sizes were: twin, 24.9 percent; full, 18.3 percent; and king, 10.6 percent. The remainder were odd sizes, extra-long versions or "California kings," which are 7 feet long.
Most popular price points?
— An estimated 42.5 percent of queen-size mattress sets retailed for under $500 in 2011. Another 36.7 percent were priced between $500 and $1,000, and 15.8 percent were priced between $1,000 and $2,000. The remaining 5 percent sold for more than $2,000.
— Folks tended to buy pricier mattresses in 2011 than they did the previous year. In 2010, the $500-to-$1,000 range accounted for only 33.9 percent of the market, and the $1,000 to $2,000 range accounted for only 14.7 percent.
Source: International Sleep Products Association.