SCHERERVILLE | Mattress stores have taken over Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville, to the point where people on social media have called it "astonishing" and "overwhelming."

Eight stores devoted solely to selling mattresses, an item most households purchase once a decade, now occupy a 2.5-mile stretch of the commercial strip between Highland Grove Shopping Center and the "Crossroads of America," the intersection of Indianapolis Boulevard and U.S. 30.

But now, three-fourths of them are all owned by the same retailer: Mattress Firm.

The ubiquitous Mattress Firm now has five stores in eight-tenths of a mile at the border of Schererville and Highland, and six within a 2.5-mile stretch along Indianapolis Boulevard. Five are under the Mattress Firm brand name, and the Houston-based retailer also just announced it will spend $780 million to acquire the parent company of Sleepy's, which recently opened a new store at the intersection of Indianapolis Boulevard and Main Street.

A new Mattress Firm opened earlier this year in the new strip mall outside Meijer across from Highland Grove shopping center. It's a short distance from the Sleepy's at 10412 Indianapolis Blvd. in Highland that Mattress Firm now owns, and also about half a mile north of a Mattress Firm in a strip mall at 25 US 41. That Mattress Firm is right next to another Mattress Firm location at 69 U.S. 41 in the neighboring strip mall, which is located in Shops on Main shopping center. They're about 300 feet away, or a one-minute walk.

Just across the street is a fourth Mattress Firm at 210 Indianapolis Blvd. in Schererville.

Drive about a mile and a half south on Indy Boulevard to Crossroads Shopping Center, and there's a fifth Mattress Firm at 1519 U.S. 41 next to Strack & Van Til.

So, the total saturation of Mattress Firms in a short distance raises the question: Why so many?

"Now more than ever, people are investing in sleep and mattresses on the level of other major household purchases. However, the cycle for buying a mattress only comes around every eight to 10 years," said Casey Zuber, Mattress Firm director of communications.

"In order to keep Mattress Firm top-of-mind when it's time to buy, we invest in real estate in highly trafficked intersections and shopping centers to make getting a good night's rest as accessible, convenient and immediate as possible. Sometimes that means having stores in close proximity, as seen in Schererville."

Though it's now everywhere in Schererville, Mattress Firm did not just keep opening stores in neighboring strip malls, and right across the street from each other. The mattress store chain, which has $784.6 million in assets and more than 3,500 stores nationwide, got three of its Schererville stores by acquiring rivals Back to Bed and Bedding Experts in 2014. The company changed the branding to Mattress Firm after the acquisition.

Mattress Firm hasn't yet decided whether Sleepy's stores will still be called Sleepy's or be rebranded as Mattress Firm. The company is not currently looking at closing any of the Sleepy's stores it acquired, but will review its long-term strategy after the deal closes.

"We recognize and appreciate the customer relationships and brand equity that Sleepy's has built in its markets, so we will thoughtfully and carefully evaluate our options before determining a long-term branding approach," Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner said. "For now, the Sleepy's retail stores will retain their well-respected and recognizable brand."

Indiana University Northwest Assistant Professor of Economics Micah Pollak said mattress stores have been springing up all over the country at a time when real estate is cheap, because they're trying to create brand awareness. They're not concerned with one store cannibalizing business from another location across the street, because they're more interested in advertising.

Mattresses are high-margin products and the stores have low overhead, so it's not cost-prohibitive to open a cluster of stores next to one another to capture eyeballs and plant the idea of shopping at Matttress Firm the next time someone is in need of a mattress, Pollak said. In cases where the retailers own and don't rent, they also may be interested in multiple locations as a real estate investment. 

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.