It is a coincidence that Tom Wholley’s second Connecticut Mattress store has opened in a former Sleepy’s site, practically across the street from his competitor, Better Bedding, he said.
The irony is even closer to home for Wholley, whose father, the late John Wholley, founded Better Bedding in 1976. The family lost the 21-store chain after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 when company creditors accepted an offer against the owners’ will to sell it to Sleepy’s in May 2010. Better Bedding kept its name, but the Wholleys walked away from the company they built up in locations across New England.
“He had a good reputation out here in Avon for 25 years,” Wholley, of Glastonbury, said of his father Thursday.
His thoughts were also with his brother, John Wholley, Jr., who passed away in August of terminal cancer at the age of 58. John co-owned Better Bedding with him.
Leaving Better Bedding was difficult, Wholley said. He took an eight-month break from retail and sold mattresses to hotels, but he missed the day-to-day interaction with customers. So, he opened his first Connecticut Mattress store in March 2011 at the Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, his hometown. The grand opening for the Avon store, located on 220 West Main St., was Jan. 1.
And with a new year underway, Wholley made it clear he’s moving on.
“I have nothing to do with Better Bedding,” Wholley said. “I don’t think about it too much. I have to move on.”
Yet, he doesn’t plan to alter the way he runs things too much.
“Not really,” Wholley said. “I’ve always stood for honesty and integrity.”
So, it’s fitting the mattress store’s slogan is “integrity and value.”
Customers from his Better Bedding days have come in to wish him well and business has been successful so far, he said.
“It’s been a welcoming experience,” said Wholley, who is happy to be back on Route 44, a prime commercial hub.
Supporting local businesses also remains important to Wholley, who said that most of the bedding products sold there are made in the United States. Some of the major brands Connecticut Mattress sells include Tempur-pedic, Serta, iComfort and Hartford-based Gold Bond. One organic mattress brand on stock, Natura, is headquartered in Canada.
Prices range from $297 for a twin mattress to $4,500 for a king-sized Tempur-pedic. Almost all purchases include free delivery, according to Wholley.
Wholley operates the store with his wife, Kathy, according to a press release. He said staff members are “not high-pressure sales people” and they are knowledgeable about sleep.
“It’s all about selling a better night’s sleep,” Wholley said. “The Baby Boomers are getting older. They’re waking up with aches and pains.”
He said that mattress “technology has come a long way,” providing pressure relief and comfort on a person-to-person basis.
While he doesn’t plan to open as many sites as his family did at Better Bedding, he would like to establish at least a few more Connecticut Mattress locations. For now, he is focusing on developing the Avon and South Windsor stores.
“I hope this becomes a really good company with a big reputation,” Wholley said.
Connecticut Mattress is open week days from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available on the store's website, www.ctmattress.com, or by calling the Avon location at 860-404-5531.
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