‘Everybody has to go to bed’: the life and philosophy of Mattress Mick
Mick, part of the furniture of Dublin retail, talks about his family (Margaret, Michelle and Marina), his local celebrity, his ‘rare’ look, his ability to read women, and the unusual manner in which he likes to relax
The problem with Mattress Mick is that he is so quotable you can’t get it down fast enough. “This is our empire,” he says as walks through his showrooms in Dublin’s Malahide Road Industrial Estate in Coolock. The premises is dotted with cardboard cutouts of Mick himself. “They get a lot of attention,” he says. “And then people borrow them for parties.”
You don’t have to ask Mattress Mick any questions: this stuff just comes out of him all the time. To interview him is to stumble into a world that has been perfectly made – by him.
He is wholly at ease with public attention. “I’m complimented by it,” he says. “People on the street looking for my autograph. I have me on my vans as well. I have three vans. I don’t really need three. One’s just for publicity.”
The vans frequently turn up to public events such as charity bed-pushes, and anywhere there’s going to be a crowd – at the re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf, for example, where Mattress Mick was swamped.
We talk in an office upstairs. On the desk is a photo of a girl so pretty that I think she is a model used to advertise picture frames, but in fact this is Michelle, the elder of his two daughters. At one point, in the days before Mattress Mick, Michelle was used in advertisements for the business, as her father is now. So, I say, that would make her Mattress Mi . . . Her father cuts me off. She doesn’t like that. “Not now she’s doing psychotherapy in London.”
A second daughter, Marina, was adopted from Russia. Everyone in Mattress Mick’s family has a name that begins with M. His wife is Margaret. “She thinks I’m mad.”
But he has seen his marketing strategy work. “We deliver 90 per cent of what we sell. In the last six months I have noticed we’re going to Howth, Malahide and Sutton as well as our usual areas.”
The strategy, which centres on his own image, includes Youtube videos, guest appearances and posters, most notably at the Five Lamps corner of Dublin’s North Strand. The mock election poster that went up recently had his face above the slogan “I’m the best”.
Waiting to be arrested
His showrooms are pretty basic. There’s a problem with dumping in the car park. But he makes the point that 90 per cent of his mattresses are Irish-made. Odearest won’t supply him, which is a bugbear. He is the subject of frequent litter fines because of his postering. He thinks this most unfair. He represents himself in court. He missed one court appearance and is waiting to be arrested – you can only feel sorry for the gardaí who come to do that.
He strikes you as a happy man, whose view of his own position is crystal clear. His competitor is not Ikea – “I call that an accessories shop; I’ve only been there once” – but Harvey Norman, which he visits regularly and copies layout ideas from.
Before the economic downturn he owned general furniture shops in two shopping centres on Dublin’s northside. South of the Liffey, his Pearse Street premises was well-placed to provide furniture for all the new apartments being built in the docklands. “Things were super,” he says. But even before the downturn he was thinking about a change of direction. “I wanted to do something in beds. Everybody has to go to bed. And I had to be creative because I didn’t have big budgets.” In the UK he saw companies such as Dreams and Bedshed thriving.