Every morning, LS sophomore Kyle Quraishy passes two Mattress Firm stores on his way to class. Wherever he goes, Mattress Firm follows; there’s one a block from his favorite diner and another next to the AMC theater he frequents. Strangely, Quraishy claims the mattress retailer is always empty, no matter the location.
If the demand for mattresses is so low, then why does there seem to be a Mattress Firm on every corner? A recent conspiracy argues that the store is actually a money laundering operation. With so many stores — 3,500 to be exact — there are plenty of places to shuffle around money and make fake money appear out of nowhere.
“I think the conspiracy has to be true,” Quraishy said. “My room faces [a Mattress Firm]. It’s directly across the street and I’ve never seen anyone inside. I’ve never even been inside one.”
I’d never been inside one of the stores either, so I decided to go check it out.
When I arrived at the Mattress Firm on 23rd Street and Third Avenue, I was surprised to see a “We’re Closed!” sign on the door, even though it was midday. The door was open with an employee inside, so I let myself in. Dozens of beds with colored pillows were organized into uniform lines, and the manager’s desk was situated in a corner of the room. Music blasted from the employee’s phone as he sat reclined in his chair. He wasn’t expecting any customers.
When asked about the conspiracy theory, he immediately declined to comment: “I’m not going to give you any kind of answer.” Definitely not suspicious.
Ever since the conspiracy came to life via Reddit — in a post that has since been deleted — suspicions surrounding Mattress Firm have skyrocketed. One Reddit user recalled seeing four Mattress Firms at the same intersection, which is absurd considering mattresses are something people tend to buy every 10 years.
In the same thread, a user, who goes by the name of Geminii27, suggested that multiple stores in high concentrations makes it easier to transfer assets between sites. If there are four Mattress Firms on the same street, then only one would need to stock mattresses. The others would have space to store other things, like drugs.
Georgia Wright, a CAS sophomore, is a strong believer in this conspiracy.
“It has to be something like money laundering,” she said. “Nothing else makes sense. It would be a good way to move large sums of money.”
Not everybody is convinced though. CAS junior Kai Burkhardt — who sleeps on a Walmart mattress — doesn’t think there’s enough evidence backing up the conspiracy.
“Right now it feels more like a joke than a conspiracy theory,” Burkhardt said. “Other conspiracy theories at least claim to have solid evidence.”
Mattress Firm seems to feel the same way. After the conspiracy exploded on social media earlier this year, the company responded with a tweet that illustrated their disbelief that this was even a trending topic.
Us looking at our mentions like… pic.twitter.com/B7okaxf4Qx
— Mattress Firm (@MattressFirm) January 24, 2018
Even if people don’t believe in the theory, it has forced them to see something they thought was normal in a different light.
“Honestly, I think it’s a really funny conspiracy theory,” Burkhardt said. “I’d never thought of it before, but sometimes that’s where the best conspiracy theories come from.”