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News / Business / Clark County Business

Closing of Mattress Factory Outlet the end of an era

Jeff Weinstein, whose father ran Vancouver Furniture Co., decides to close up shop after family's seven decades in home furnishings business

By Allan Brettman, Columbian Business Editor
Published: October 27, 2018, 6:00am
5 Photos
Jeff Weinstein, owner of the Mattress Factory Outlet near Vancouver Mall, is ready to retire.
Jeff Weinstein, owner of the Mattress Factory Outlet near Vancouver Mall, is ready to retire. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Six small children greeted visitors on Friday at Mattress Factory Outlet near Vancouver Mall.

They’re Jeff Weinstein’s grandchildren, they’re in a poster-size photo, and they’re a big part of the reason Weinstein has decided to end a 72-year-old era.

Weinstein announced a “Going Out of Business Sale!” with an insert that appeared Friday in The Columbian. He and his father, Allan Weinstein, opened the business in 1994, the same year they stepped away from Vancouver Furniture Co., a downtown fixture from 1946 to 1996.

Jeff Weinstein, 70, grappled for months with whether to close the mattress store and move on with his life, but ultimately decided it was time.

“I’ve been working in town five, six, seven days (a week) for 48 years,” Weinstein said. “I don’t know if there’s ever a right time, but we have six grandchildren in Southern California. I’d like to spend more time with them.”

The two children of Jeff and Sherri Weinstein have moved on to lives far from the home furnishings business. Brent Weinstein is an executive with United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills and daughter Staci Harding is a labor and delivery nurse in the Los Angeles area. And the brother and sister gathered their respective broods for the poster at the entrance of Mattress Factory Outlet, at 4708 N.E. Thurston Way, with this message: “Good luck, Papa, On Your Retirement!”

As a young man, equipped with a Willamette University psychology degree, Jeff Weinstein didn’t believe he was destined for a career in home furnishings. He envisioned a life with the Portland Trail Blazers.

It only made sense. The team was getting its start in 1970 and so was Weinstein. He was a sports nut, and his father was a lifelong friend of Harry Glickman, a co-founder of the National Basketball Association franchise and the team’s president from 1987 to 1994. Jeff’s father was officially the second season ticket holder with the Blazers, Jeff said, and the family long held on to its seats, which eventually ended up 10 rows back, center court.

Alas, Allan Weinstein was a persuasive man, and Jeff Weinstein found himself on the sales floor, learning the Vancouver Furniture Co. ropes from the master.

In their ultra-competitive world where they constantly faced the challenge of sales-tax-free competitors in Oregon, the Weinsteins found a way to set themselves apart. The key was customer service. It’s not hard to find a customer in Clark County who has their own story about that service: the 60-day, no-questions-asked “comfort exchange” policy at Mattress Factory Outlet that was later extended to 90 days, or the same-day delivery service.

“We worked hard to protect our customers so that they felt comfortable,” Weinstein said Friday, seated on a showroom floor mattress.”And if they’re comfortable with you, in the future they might buy from us (again) or they might tell somebody else — word of mouth.

“So, you know, as we’ve grown over the years, our biggest assets were three, I guess: repeat customers, word of mouth and get ready for this one — The Columbian.”

Newspaper advertising, he said, was mentioned as much as those other two factors in customer questionnaires. But in a world of declining newspaper circulation, internet mattress sales and foamy mattresses delivered by mail, “the business has changed a lot.”

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Still, Weinstein said the store has remained competitive.

He fretted over the closure, but noted he’d had some “health issues” over the summer involving his heart. A doctor nudged him toward retirement, a decision he said thrilled his wife.

But Weinstein wasn’t so sure. He arrived at the decision only at the end of the summer.

“It was a very long a couple of months,” he said. “That was the hardest decision I’ve ever made for 48 years. I’ve been fortunate that it’s been a good ride. One of my main concerns was the people that I have working with me and what are they going to do afterwards?”

Eight of the company’s full-time employees have been with Mattress Factory Outlet for 15 years or more. Weinstein said he’s been talking with three competitors in the region about placement of employees with those companies, if that’s what interests them. He said one of the competitors may take over the soon-to-be vacant retail space.

Brian Squires has been a salesman for Weinstein for 22 years.

The place is his like family, he said, and Weinstein has his moments of emotion about letting go.

“He has his moments,” Squires said.

But the store is closing. Prices on mattresses and other items have been slashed 40 percent to 60 percent. Everything must go. Weinstein has no idea how long the sale will last.

He also has no idea how life would’ve looked if he’d pursued that full-time career with the Trail Blazers.

But Weinstein didn’t give up the sports bug so easily. He served as the team’s statistician from 1971 to 1986.

And long-time fans who know the significance of 1977 know what that meant.

“I was working the year they won the championship,” he said with a smile.

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Columbian Business Editor