1941-1965: Publication multiplication

Part V of the second installment on the International Sleep Products Association’s first 100 years

NABM introduces magazine exclusively for bedding retailers

Archival cover of Bedding Merchandiser magazine
In 1945, the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers launched a magazine to help retailers improve their businesses.


Since 1917, the mattress industry has enjoyed a monthly magazine that has delivered to bedding manufacturers the news and information they need to operate a modern, profitable company—from articles about new government rules and regulations to reports on components and machinery to updates on their trade association’s activities and much more. During its history, the magazine—first called The National Bedding Manufacturer, later shortened to Bedding and then renamed BedTimes—has occasionally printed articles about in-store displays and other items of interest to bedding retailers, but retail has never been the magazine’s focus.

By the early 1940s, the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers knew this was a problem. Producing bedding is only part of the equation: There needed to be a way to help bedding retailers improve their businesses in the same way that the flagship magazine helped elevate the practices of manufacturers. And thus, in December 1945, its inaugural issue of Bedding Merchandiser rolled off the presses.

In this era, bedding was sold primarily by department and full-line furniture stores, and the industry sought to encourage the creation of well-appointed, bedding-only departments within those retailers. The Bedding Merchandiser featured multipage profiles of successful bedding departments and even created a “Planning for Bedding Sales” workbook with templates for department layouts, plans for building in-store display fixtures and tips on choosing lighting and color palettes. It sold for $2.50.

Other topics covered regularly in the Bedding Merchandiser:

Advertising and retail sales promotions

Sales training

Bedding constructions and components

Industry sales statistics

Industrywide public-relations efforts

Consumer and housing trends

NABM financed the monthly publication, with issues mailed at no charge “to all retailers of bedding.” Capped by NABM at 28 pages a month, the magazine boasted a circulation of “15,000 retailers” by the end of its first year and 26,000 by January 1957.

Despite strong circulation and popularity among readers, the magazine struggled to gain advertising support and published its last issue in December 1957 when, the editors explained in the final issue, NABM decided it could “render a more clearly defined, a better appreciated service, to home furnishings retailers by using the money and talent this book required in other directions.”

Several decades later, the association decided the retailer-focused magazine had, indeed, been one of the best ways to engage retailers and improve the consumer experience, and launched Sleep Savvy, a magazine that successfully carries out many of the original missions of the Bedding Merchandiser today.✦ 

Read all seven parts of this month’s special ISPA 1941-1965 centennial section:
Part I – A time of war, a time for peace
Part II – Promoting better sleep
Part III – Mattress makers introduce ‘king’ and ‘queen’ sizes
Part IV – Mattress industry introduces the sofa bed
Part V – NABM introduces magazine exclusively for bedding retailers
Part VI – Mattress components makers ‘integral’ to industry
Part VII – ‘Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law’