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Planet Money

Why Are There So Many Mattress Stores?

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Scott Olson, Getty Images

If you've ever wondered how mattress stores stay in business, you're not alone. They seem to defy the laws of economics: they occupy large pieces of often very expensive real estate; they're usually empty, and because most people buy a mattress maybe once or twice a decade, they don't seem to do a lot of trade. So how do they they survive? The most puzzling example of this business is a company called Mattress Firm, which became the biggest mattress retailer in the country following an acquisition binge. So confounding is its apparent success that Mattress Firm spawned a conspiracy theory on Reddit. Was the company a money laundering outfit? A mob front? For a while there, speculation was rampant. Today on The Indicator, we team up with Dan Bobkoff of the podcast Household Name, to investigate the mystery of Mattress Firm.

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