Mattresses are a highly sought-after item for community members accessing a furniture bank. It’s probably the most important and requested item. In too many cases, the supply of mattresses does not match the demand.
Through the Furniture Bank Network (FBN), a collection of furniture banks across North America, we’ve gathered the top seven ways furniture banks have worked to increase their mattress supply.
1. Take Gently Used Mattresses from the Community
A good chunk of the FBN members do some form of this option. For Goodness Sake (Bristol, CT) does this in combination with getting new mattresses from a local company. However, even with the increase, they still aren’t reaching demand.
One of the reasons could be the quality of mattresses coming from the community. While this is a good option, Project Home Again (Andover, MA) notes they no longer take used mattresses because the quality wasn’t up to their standards. At Furniture Bank, our general rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t let your mother sleep on it, we won’t accept that mattress.
However, His Helping Hands (Wichita, KS) accepts all mattresses but charges a disposal fee for poor-quality mattresses. Both His Helping Hands and The Mustard Seed of Central Florida (Orlando, FL) send mattresses they can’t give back to the community to a local mattress recycler. So, this could be a good option for you if you have a recycler nearby.
2. Fundraise Specifically for Mattresses
Fundraising enables you to purchase new mattresses, so you don’t have to worry about the potential hassle of taking donated mattresses that just aren’t matching the quality you want to include in your furniture sets.
While unrestricted funding means any donations you receive can have a greater overall impact on the community, sometimes donors want their donation to feel specific. At Open Door Exchange (New York, NY), they find people like to specify their donation. Mattresses seem to be a good one for donors to get behind.
Cleveland Furniture Bank (Cleveland, OH) runs a Beds for Kids program, funded mainly by an annual appeal to donors and one fundraiser. This program provides over 1200 children with new beds each year.
3. Apply to Grants Specifically for Mattresses
If the individual donation avenue isn’t working for you, you might want to consider applying for grants. Hope to Home Furniture Resource (Isle of Palms, SC) uses grant money specifically geared toward kids’ mattresses. Project Home Again uses a combination of grant money and monetary donations to buy cheap mattresses from a wholesaler.
You’ll have to find the grants that will work best for you. But don’t forget this avenue if you are having trouble finding funds to purchase new mattresses for your community members.
4. Partner with Local Hotels
Local businesses offer many opportunities for furniture. But, most don’t have the mattresses we so desperately seek. On the other hand, Hotels are a perfect opportunity to increase your mattress supply.
Not all hotels will have the quality you search for, but high-end hotels are exactly what Jope to Home Furniture Resource uses to boost its supply. What makes high-end hotels a good option is that the mattresses usually aren’t more than 2-3 years old and are protected with mattress covers, so you can be encouraged they’re still of a high enough quality for when delivered to your community members.
5. Buy from a Local Mattress Manufacturer
This option might not be open to everyone. But, if you are lucky enough to have a mattress manufacturer nearby like His Helping Hands, you can get a good deal on mattresses. They also use gently-used donated mattresses and take advantage of our next option.
6. Partner with a Local Furniture or Mattress Retailer
The potential game-changer – taking gently used, returned mattresses from your local furniture retailer. Many mattress companies offer a free return before a certain number of nights. So, if someone doesn’t like the mattress they purchased, they return it. Furniture and mattress retailers won’t resell them, so this is a great opportunity for you to step in. Not only are you helping the business with mattress disposal, but you are also helping the environment as way too many of these mattresses end up in landfills across North America.
Many of the furniture banks within the FBN take advantage of this option. As mentioned in option five, His Helping Hands supplements their donated mattresses from the community with this option. Cleveland Furniture Bank gets three to four 53 ft. trailers of mattresses each month by partnering with the largest furniture retailer in the area.
Partnering with a local retailer is one of the best options to increase your mattress supply.
7. Work with Online Mattress or Furniture Retailers
While very similar to the previous option, this avenue is likely to increase over time. More and more items are purchased online each year. Online furniture sales increased 191% during the beginning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 20-25% of online purchases are returned. If you can partner with the right organization, you have a great opportunity since the supply is likely to be higher via this avenue than others.
Along with option six, Furniture Bank has made massive supply gains on mattresses with partnerships with places like IKEA and Endy. These partnerships now mean we often have more supply than demand for mattresses. This is a great thing because you’ll know your community partners will get the best quality mattresses.
Or Do Them All
In reality, you’re likely going to do a combination of them all. Mattresses are an essential item for so many of our community members, so we must do everything we can to provide them with the best opportunity for success while they transition from crisis and turn their house into a home.
A Quick Note: Before giving away any mattresses, please check your Provincial/State/Municipal regulations. The Cleveland Furniture Bank noted that they are only allowed to give away mattresses as long as they are sanitized according to State laws. Breaking regulations could not only harm you, but it could affect your clients in return. While we want to do our best to make the biggest impact on our community members, let’s make sure we follow the rules as well.