The photos for this collection are displayed in the offices of the Oklahoma Mattress Company, 915 NW 4. They were captured by Retro Metro member Norman Thompson. For more on Oklahoma Mattress Company see the following news item from The Oklahoman.
MADE IN OKLAHOMA: OKLAHOMA MATTRESS CO.
The Oklahoman – Wednesday, July 8, 2009
CUSTOMIZED PRODUCTS MAKE IT A ‘DESTINATION’
When interior decorator Steve Callahan was tasked with outfitting upscale condominiums at The Centennial in Lower Bricktown, he went to the only business in town that creates cotton-tufted mattresses by hand.
Owner Jim Hunter boasts he’s not just the only guy creating beds such as the ones used a century ago. He insists he’s one of the few shops creating custom-made hand-tufted cotton mattresses anywhere.
“I’m really proud of what we do, and I think it’s really great when people realize there is something else out there,” Hunter said. “They don’t have to choose a store-bought mattress. People get scared at the word ‘custom,’ but when they come in and see what we do and our prices, they laugh. It’s often less than what you find elsewhere.”
Things don’t change much at Oklahoma Mattress Co. Charlotte Guerin still answers the phones, as she has for 30 years. The storefront has been home to the business since World War II (the original owners first opened shop at Ollie and NW 6).
The business was started by W.C. McKinney, and for a while, it sold furniture and mattresses, Hunter said. Hunter’s cousin bought it from the founders, and Hunter came by needing a job in 1973.
“I had just gotten out of high school … I got married very young – at 18 – and I needed to work and go to school,” Hunter said.
Six years later, Hunter bought the business and survived the economic turmoil of the 1980s and the blight that threatened to overtake the south side of the MidTown area. Now he’s surrounded by redevelopment.
Just this week, he spent an hour working with a young couple shopping for a mattress after helping a lady from Texas pick up a bed to haul back to her home. He fields orders for custom-made mattresses for boats, trailers, hospitals and hotels across the country.
“I’m a destination place,” Hunter said. “Somebody goes to Mathis Brothers. They own Lady Americana. They own the franchise. But if somebody goes there and says they need an odd size to fit their motor home, guess where they’re told to go? Serta does the same thing. I’m the guy.”
– Steve Lackmeyer