Small Town Mattress Hunt

I live in southwest Georgia (31763) and I need a mattress. My town has the normal big box stores and furniture stores which all carry the typical name brands, i.e… Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Tempurpedic, etc. We also have a one or two mattress specialty stores (they are rather new in town) where I always feel that the salesman doesn’t know what they are talking about or doesn’t really care about the customer … only the cash. Therefore, my choices are limited … unless I go with a name brand.

I have tried an internet purchase (memory foam) through Healthy Foundations, but after 4 years and my using a heating pad in bed regularly for back pain, the bed is just not comfortable anymore. Besides that, my wife would really like to use an electric blanket for what cold weather we have down here in the south.

So, with that said … what has been your advice to small town shoppers who would like to find a suitable mattress? Are there some specific brands which I should focus my search on? I am willing to go to Atlanta - Macon - Tallahassee but if I am starting out from scratch, trying to locate the right store will take a lot of my retirement time away from me. Not to mention driving hither and yon in a big city.

I hope this note does not sound like a lazy mattress shopper. I am just trying to get a quality mattress, at a fair price and decent nights sleep.

Jim K.

Hi jhk49,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum!.

Just in case you haven’t read it yet … the first place I would start your research is the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines you will need to make the best possible choice … and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones (including the major brands such as Sealy, Simmons, Serta … see the guidelines here)

Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort” and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists (based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you).

The better options or possibilities I’m aware of in and around the Albany/Leesburg, GA area (subject to making sure that any mattress you are considering meets the quality/value guidelines I linked earlier in this reply) are listed in post #2 here.

There is also a list for the Columbus, Ga area in post #2 here and for the Macon area in post #2 here and for the Atlanta area in post #2 here and for the Tallahassee, FL area in post #2 here.

If you are also considering online options then the tutorial also includes several links to lists that include the better online options I’m aware of (in the optional online step) that include many different types of mattresses in a wide range of budgets as well.


Well, I have started the process. Yesterday I flipped and flopped for over an hour in the mattress area of a local furniture store and have seemed to have liked the medium to medium-firm mattresses with individually wrapped springs as well as the latex foam mattresses. Also, I tended to like the plush topper the best. My next step will then be to test for Comfort and Pressure Relief … I expect this step to be a little more difficult to determine than the first. But, I will perceiver.

However, even after the first step I do have a couple of questions which were not answered to my satisfaction by the salesperson.

None of the mattresses tested had a natural fiber top, all of them had a latex foam or a “memory gel” foam. This concerned me since I have had bad experiences with my memory foam mattress and wanted to steer clear of that type mattress. Also, I want to be able to use an electric blanket / mattress pad with whatever mattress I purchase and I don’t want any degradation of the mattress to occur because of the electric blanket / mattress pad. Is “memory gel” just a trade name for some type of foam rubber or should I steer clear of it? Additionally, can an electric blanket / mattress pad be used on a latex (natural or synthetic) foam bed without problem?

Hi jhk49,

Memory gel is memory foam that has some percentage of gel added to the formulation. There is more information about gel memory foam and other gel materials in general in post #2 here. The temperature regulating effect of gel tends to be temporary when you are first going to sleep at night and generally doesn’t last over the course of the night.

It would be fine on foam materials such as latex or polyfoam that aren’t temperature sensitive yes.


Dear Phoenix,

I am making some progress but unfortunately, not as fast as my wife would like.

After your last post, I again went out in search of a mattress determined to complete steps 1 and 2 of the 5 step process. As you are aware, I had a bad experience with memory foam and therefore I am looking for a quality mattress that does not have memory foam in its construction. I have found that outside of a latex foam mattress, just about all others have a memory foam type layer. Finding a mattress without memory foam of some type is not easy.

In my search as well as moving toward the next step in the process, I have formulated a few questions that I hope you can help me with:

  1. Will an electric mattress pad or blanket ultimately degradate the life of a memory foam mattresses? Is this applicable to a total memory foam mattress as well as to an innerspring mattress which uses a thin layer of memory foam with infused gel on the comfort layer? … Just a note, any mattress I purchase has to be able to allow for the use of an electric mattress pad or blanket.

  2. You have mentioned “microcoils” as a comfort layer. I originally thought that this was in reference to individual coils (pocketed coils) in the innerspring. It now appears that that is not the case. Are these “microcoils” used on many mattresses or has their time come and gone?

  3. I looked on the websites of several mattress manufacturers. Some of these were name brands and some lesser name brands. I did not find any information concerning the actual construction specifications for their mattresses. Is this typical of keeping the customer in the dark? Is there any p;lace where I can find this info? The sales people I have spoke to so far don’t seem to know the details either. Like I said, this is a small town.

Any help will be appreciated. Like I said, the Misses is getting fidgety.


Hi jhk49,

There are some comments about memory foam and electric blankets in post #2 here. I would tend to use them cautiously partly because they may affect the firmness of the memory foam and partly because they may also affect the durability of the memory foam over time.

Having said that … there are hundreds of different versions of memory foam that can be more or less temperature sensitive and the design of the mattress could have an effect as well (an electric blanket would have less effect on memory foam that was deeper in the mattress) so the effect of an electric blanket can vary from mattress to mattress so I would follow the recommendations of the manufacturer as far as using an electric blanket on any specific memory foam mattress.

While they are not “common” they are also not common either although I would say their use is gradually increasing. You can read more about microcoils that are used in comfort layers in this article and in post #8 here and post #2 here. They would be a durable choice that can work well for those that prefer the more springy feel of microcoils in the comfort layers of their mattress.

It would be relatively uncommon to find the detailed specs of a local mattress on their website and in many cases their websites may be out of date and not even list the current mattresses that they carry or only mention the manufacturers not the specific mattresses. It’s much more common for online retailers and manufacturers to have an up to date website with more detailed specifications but it will also vary greatly.

As sad as it is … most of the members here that have spent more than a couple of hours on the site will know more meaningful information about mattresses and mattress materials than most of the mainstream salespeople that sell them. This is one of the reasons that it’s important to make sure that any retailer or manufacturer is able and willing to provide you with the information listed here before you go and visit them to test mattresses.

Your ability to find out the information you need to make an informed choice about the quality/durability of a mattress will vary by manufacturer (you can see some comments about the largest 15 manufacturers here) and will also depend on the knowledge of the store and salesperson you are dealing with and their willingness to call their factory and find out any information they don’t know that you would need to make an informed choice and make meaningful comparisons between mattresses. Of course this is also assuming that the manufacturer isn’t one of the many that won’t disclose enough meaningful information … even to their retailers (in which case I would completely avoid it). This should be a simple process that is a “normal” part of buying a mattress (just like finding out the size of a hard drive, the amount of memory, and other basic specs of a computer would be a normal part of buying a computer).

There isn’t much general information I can add to the steps in the tutorial and my replies in this topic but of course I’m certainly happy to answer any specific questions that you may have.

In its simplest form … choosing the “best possible” mattress for any particular person really comes down to first finding a few knowledgeable and transparent retailers and/or manufacturers that sell the types of mattresses that you are most interested in (either locally or online) and that can provide you with all the information you need to know to make an informed choice and make meaningful comparisons between mattresses and then …

  1. Careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in the tutorial) to make sure that a mattress is a good match for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP … and/or that you are comfortable with the options you have available to return, exchange, or “fine tune” the mattress and any costs involved if you can’t test a mattress in person or aren’t confident that your mattress is a suitable choice.

  2. Checking to make sure that there are no lower quality materials or weak links in the mattress that could compromise the durability and useful life of the mattress.

  3. Comparing your finalists for “value” based on #1 and #2 and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.