Markets in everything

by on June 16, 2010 at 6:12 am in Economics | Permalink

How much would you spend for a good night's sleep?

Some people
might say $33,000. That's the price of E.S. Kluft & Co.'s
hand-tufted, king-size Palais Royale mattress and box spring, currently
the most expensive American-made mattress set on the market. The company
says it has sold about 100 since introducing it in 2008.

Or maybe
it's $44,000–the price tag on Kluft's Sublime model, which the company
has teed up for a launch later this year.

…Hästens says it takes 160 hours to assemble this mattress entirely by
hand, which has a Swedish-pine frame with thick layers of horsehair,
cotton, flax and wool inside. The company says since introducing the
mattress in 2006, it has sold 250 of them world-wide.

Laugh all you want, but if I were rich, this is something I would spend my money on.  Given how much time we spend sleeping, most people are oddly unconcerned about the quality of their bed, pillow, and so on.

The full story is here and I thank Eric John Barker for the pointer.

mark June 16, 2010 at 6:28 am

But does it actually make you sleep better?

Most people are not very good judges of value and it seems like a lot of the value-adds in this mattress are more to increase perceived quality than to help you sleep better

NC June 16, 2010 at 6:31 am

Mark said it. What matters is how much are you getting at the margin.

Noumenon June 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

Rich people spend lots of time in luxury hotels and guest bedrooms and vacation homes, right? They should develop much better sensibilities for what mattress gives them the best sleep, because they try so many.

Paavo Ojala June 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

i would rather invest in bed-research and a bed made with high-tech materials, instead of paying for “authentic” and hand-made.

eigenman June 16, 2010 at 8:58 am

But read this first.

http://www.slate.com/id/93956

Explodicle June 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

You sleep way better on one of these things than you ever will on some hand-stuffed rich boy nonsense.

I’ve been sleeping on the floor for the last week (I’m moving cross-country and the movers already took my stuff) and have been feeling surprisingly refreshed in the morning. I think my bed might actually be TOO soft.

Candadai Tirumalai June 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

I don’t know if Shakespeare wrote from personal experience in this matter
but on more than one occasion his kings and princes lament being unable
to sleep in the most luxuriant beds money can buy (“Uneasy lies the head
that wears a crown”), envying the rude ship-boy who slumbers blissfully,
cradled by the imperious surge of the sea.
The days on which I have not walked about enough may be followed by nights
when one concern or another interrupts sleep from time to time; when I
have walked about sufficiently sleep overpowers any residual worries.
That said, it is still true that having bought one’s bed one has to lie
in it. Economy here would be false economy.

Rich June 16, 2010 at 9:58 am

I remember being told not to compare stocks and flows, but I never really quite understood why.

mattmc June 16, 2010 at 10:45 am

I have a strong distaste for things that cost more because they are “hand-made”. (“Hästens says it takes 160 hours to assemble this mattress entirely by hand”)

Hand-made does not equal better in most cases. Second, I strongly doubt that horse hair and wool are the best bed fillings man can create. Natural certainly does not equal better. I’d go with the Tempur-Pedic.

Nicholas Weininger June 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

While the premium you pay for the hand assembly, Swedish pine, etc is ridiculous, there are much less expensive high-end beds that do provide significant increases in long-term comfort over the mass market. And anything that really provides such an increase for you– for a third of all your hours, lasting over ten years– is surely worth a few thousand bucks, yes?

I am a fan of the European Sleep Works beds. Extremely comfortable, much of the same eco/natural-materials cachet as the Kluft for those who like that sort of thing, and about a tenth the price. It’s ironic that they named the company European Sleep Works, since Europeans AFAICT know nothing at all about how to make comfortable beds; a clearer play to the cultural pretensions of limousine liberals is hard to imagine. Still, a damn good bed.

Ken Rhodes June 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

How much would you spend for a good night’s sleep?

Well, that may be miscasting the question. Suppose a relatively moderate life of ten years for the mattress. Cheap ones frequently don’t last that long, but a good one should.

That’s nine dollars a night. If it really is a good night’s sleep, and you can afford the non-discounted up-front payment, maybe nine dollars a night isn’t too much to pay for a good night’s sleep.

Zach June 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

I’m usually unconscious when I sleep, so I don’t spend a lot of time worrying over the quality of my mattress. If it was keeping me up at night, maybe I’d buy a nicer one.

Someone from the other side June 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Not sure why anyone would pay more than 5 bucks for a mattress that contains springs in the first place… Memory foam or if you like, water.

hibikir June 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm

When I had to purchase a new mattress, I laid on every single one in the store. Most of the expensive Sertas didn’t feel any better than the cheapest ones. The only major differences where between springs, latex, air, bad foam and viscoelastic foam. My back said that the viscoelastic felt better, so we purchased the one that wasn’t advertised on TV, and was hundreds of dollars cheaper. 7 years later, it’s still a fantastic mattress, all for less than a grand. It beats mattresses I find in expensive hotels every day.

The margin would have to be brutal to make a $44K mattress better than a $900 one. I can’t even imagine how good the mattress must be to warrant such a difference.

Laserlight June 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

If I got the $44k mattress, I’d lie awake thinking about spending that much money on a mattress.

agnostic June 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm

“…cheap rickety crap that…”

Paul N June 16, 2010 at 10:14 pm

No way Tyler. I can sympathize a little with your preference for expensive knives (I still do without just fine) but this whole fancy mattress thing is a ruse / conspicuous consumption.

Would you use the same logic to say “Given how much time we spend wearing underwear, most people are oddly unconcerned about the quality of their underwear” or “Given how much time we spend writing, most people are oddly unconcerned about the quality of their pen”?

Delirious June 17, 2010 at 12:30 am

…why aren’t there sleeping booths where one could try mattresses for a few hours, or even the night?

stuart June 17, 2010 at 9:37 am

Tyler, you may not be able to afford these beds, but you actually are rich.

anonymous June 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

agnostic,
When you typed that message, were you sitting in a comfortable chair, or sitting on the ground like our ancestors did? Do you wear shoes or walk barefoot? If chairs and shoes matter, so do beds.

Also, please don’t assume that your personal metabolic quirks and eccentric dietary habits represent some kind of universal truth. Almost everyone has at least some carbs for dinner, and very few people have midnight snack cravings.

m3 real June 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

Spending money is in your hand only.It is upto you. But for me I will not spend any money for sleeping only.

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