Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 77
Verlo builds individualized mattresses for each customer
depending on their specialized needs. Verlo offers eight collections, ranging from memory and gel foam to innerspring
mattresses, in a wide range of price points. What's more, all
mattresses are locally made in factories within Verlo stores.
"It's really not about mass producing mattresses," Thornton-Bias says. "What we've done instead is taken the best
of factory craftsmanship and delivered that directly to consumers at a value price. There is no middleman."
Indeed, the focus is entirely on the customer. "In the past,
I think a mattress company would say, 'Here you go, this one
mattress solves all your problems,' and that just isn't true,"
Thornton-Bias notes. "With us, the objective is to help the
consumer find the mattress that's right for her, based on her
height, weight, comfort preferences, and whether there are
any back troubles or recent health issues."
Verlo has a unique franchise model. Whereas a typical
franchise operation would have a franchisee purchase or rent
a store, with Verlo they are required to a) run a retail store
where customers can select their mattresses, and b) run a
small factory store where the mattresses are physically made
and sold. There are no warehouses and distribution centers.
And, if a franchisee wants to expand their operations, they
can do so with a hub-and-spoke system where one factory
serves several stores.
That system is what John Henry opted for. He owns three
Verlo mattress stores in Beaver Dam, Portage, and Fond du
Lac, Wis. "I'm a very hands-on person, so this model really
played to my strengths," Henry says. He also likes attending
to customers and walking them through all of the options in
ordering a mattress. "When one looks at all of the options,
it's almost infinity and beyond," he adds. "Further, the support I get from the corporate level has been phenomenal."
arranged in pods with half walls between the mattresses to
provide more privacy for consumers trying out mattresses.
Technology advancements have also come to the products themselves. Verlo recently announced the release of
SmartWake, the "world's smartest alarm clock." Essentially,
a SmartWake sensor disc placed under a mattress monitors the sleeper's heart rate, breathing and movement. That
trackable data is communicated to a SmartWake app on
the user's smartphone. The app determines the best time to
wake the person up within a selected alarm timeframe. The
idea is to wake someone during a light sleep cycle, as opposed to a deep sleep cycle, which can cause grogginess.
Thornton-Bias says the future at Verlo is bright, especially
when one considers every adult will likely need a mattress
at one time or another. "For us, it's all about trying to evolve
and differentiate ourselves," she notes. "And we aim to do
that with our product, our service and our technology.
Now is the perfect time to become a Verlo Mattress franchisee, and take advantage of the growing demand in the
sleep category, " continues Thornton-Bias. For information
about franchising opportunities at Verlo Mattress and to
join the sleep revolution, contact Kathy Thornton-Bias at
The support that Henry refers to is a result of the 2012
purchase of Verlo Mattress by Marcus Investments LLC, a
Marcus Family company based in Milwaukee. The Marcus
Family is also a controlling stakeholder in The Marcus Corporation, which has a portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts.
Once acquired, the company was rigorous in upgrading
the technology at Verlo. Now, for instance, when customers shop for a mattress, they can use an iPad to take Verlo's
"Sleepography Quiz," to help in the selection of their mattress. Marcus Investments has also delivered on technology
upgrades within the stores. Both point-of-sale software and
an ERP system were recent technology investments, positioning the company for more growth.
Equally important, Marcus Investments has also invested in rolling out a new store concept. "It's really unlike any
store you have ever seen," Thornton-Bias says. Mattresses are