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The secrets of Mattress Firm, and other stores that don’t exist

January 25, 2018

Mattress Firm stores are the strip-mall version of spiders: No matter where you are in the world, you’re never more than six feet away from one. (Mattress Firm, however, is harder to accidentally eat in your sleep.) This is unusual for a number of reasons, primarily that no human being has set foot inside a Mattress Firm store since the fall of 1997. We checked. We don’t even know if their stores contain interiors. It’s entirely possible Mattress Firm is just a bunch of signs, hanging in front of large empty warehouse spaces where people gather after dark to smoke weed or play racquetball. (If it’s either, waitlist me please.)


Yet here, in 2018, there are countless Mattress Firmy-type stores that persist, despite not having what business professionals and humans with eyes would call “any hope of a customer base.” They are EVERYWHERE. We found the following others in our actual home state, just by driving around, and figure that each of them is a nefarious front for the Illuminati, Deep State or the Russians, if those are even different groups. So LET US OPEN THE MATTRESS FILES and run down stores that don’t exist yet do:

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Mattress Firm: Human beings are required to purchase a new mattress every decade or so, when the collected mass of years of dead, flaked-off skin becomes self-aware, forms a vague human shape, gets up out of bed and goes to make coffee. Yet the town you’re in right now contains no fewer than 48 Mattress Firms, 25% of which are on the same block and 87% of which are within spitting distance of a Discount Tire and a Vape Warehouse. Additionally, most people buy mattresses online now, from one of the 500 companies that ship hermetically-sealed boxes to your house, and let you slice them open and watch the mattresses inflate like some sort of reborn-Jon-Snow zombified Kool-Aid man. So how in the hell are there so many Mattress Firms? Well, this almost certainly garbage Reddit thread, which has earned significant viral traction and given Mattress Firm its first-ever Twitter followers, suggests SHADY BUSINESS is to blame. (It’s gotten so bad that Mattress Firm has been forced to respond to Reddit, which is probably not something its CEO ever expected to be on his to-do list.) Look, we’re not saying anybody’s laundering anything. We’re just saying: When this business inevitably goes under, can we get like a Trader Joe’s in there?

Fannie Mae Candies: My sweet grandmother has, for 60 years, postulated a theory that Fannie Mae Candies is either a front for the mob or the gateway to one of the multiverses, the theory being that NO CANDY STORE IN CREATION could possibly secure that much sweet sweet corner real estate on a confectioner’s salary. I don’t know what corner-lot prices are like in your state, but around here there’s no way you can float that by selling cherry-stuffed dandy caramels drizzled with some sort of orange goo at $1.89 a pop. Doesn’t make sense, unless they make $20 million every Valentine’s Day, which they might.


Family Video: TRUE STORY: Last month, I visited my dad’s house, a cozy and grandfatherly space that’s rich with games, toys and pool tables for my sons but lacking in what most of us would call “functional wi-fi.” Looking to entertain the kids during a few minutes of downtime one afternoon, I asked if we could put on a movie. “Sure,” Dad told me, sliding his keys across the table. “Family Video’s on Parkview Road, across from the CVS,” and instantly my brain leapt back 20 years and immediately made plans to stop at the video store after picking up a Water Joe at the Village Pantry and a triple cheeseburger from McDonald’s. I figured it was some secret-word treasure hunt that would end up with the “Family Video” being like a place where retired school administrators got their weed. (Turns out it was a video store. No weed, but they were pretty well set on Mike n’ Ikes.) Renting a video, of course, represented the peak of cultural inconvenience in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a task that paid off only if your timing was exquisite, your command of release dates was impeccable and someone had just dropped off their copy of “The Hunt for Red October,” a film that, like all others, my 6-year-old can now view by talking to a remote control. And the Midwest is covered in them; Family Video recently became the Most Popular Video Rental Place in the Country, overtaking Blockbuster and … well pretty much just Blockbuster.

Disc Replay: My 13-year-old reported how the kids at his cafeteria table were making fun of a Disc Replay commercial the other day, and it stopped the world cold: There’s still a Disc Replay? They have a budget for commercials? These commercials air in real time, not on the 3:45 a.m. Mr. Plow spot on the Southwestern Regional Indiana Public Television and Cold War Missile Defense Warning System? Research reveals it is TRUE: Disc Replay still exists, and personnel are standing by to pay COLD HARD CASH/bitcoins for the boxes of Rusted Root and Blues Traveler CDs collecting bacteria in your damp humid attic. As soon as I’m done with this, I’m taking three boxes there directly, for which I expect to get $8-9, a down payment on my new mattress.

Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus: Oh wait, they closed this, didn’t they? Good, the elephants looked terrible.