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Norwalk Mattress, a 99-year-old family owned company, offers handcrafted mattresses in latex foam, cotton and wool.—Norwalk Mattress photo

Shortly after my husband and I were married, we decided to buy a new mattress. At the time, we lived close to Norwalk Mattress, a family-owned and -operated company that is currently celebrating its 99th year in business and which was originally started in a garage loft and later moved to a factory building as business expanded.

The Drew family — Edna, her three sons, Charlie, Roy and Ralph, and their wives, Louise, Marie and Doris — ran the business. It later passed to Robert Drew and his wife, Patty, and Patty’s brother-in-law, Fred Heinzelman. Robert has since passed away, and Patty and Fred today serve as president and vice president, respectively.

Impatient for a mattress, I called the store and explained to the gentleman who answered that we wanted to order one over the phone. He strongly recommended that we come in and try them out, but, busy with work and settling into married life, I resisted. “Please find us something that isn’t too expensive and that will last a long time,” I said. A week or two later, the new mattress was delivered—Norwalk Mattress offers free delivery—and the rest as they say, is history.

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Norwalk Mattress’s Tranquility Sleep System allows for customization with pillow topper panels that can be mixed and matched, providing varying levels of cushioning to both sides of the bed. — Contributed photo

The gentleman must have known what he was doing, as these many years later, for better or for worse, we still have the same mattress, and although it appears to be in perfect condition, I’m trying to convince my thrifty spouse that it’s time to spring for a new one. We’re a lot older now, (both in our 50s), and we need a mattress that will simultaneously help us get a good night’s sleep, cushion our bodies, and support our aging — and often aching — backs, necks, hips, and other parts.

Since we were so happy the last time, I contacted Norwalk Mattress once again, this time armed with questions. What type of mattress do we need, what are the different types, what exactly is a pillow topper, and is that something we really need?

“We make several types of mattresses,” explained Patty Drew, “with each mattress and box spring handmade with natural materials, including cotton, Joma wool, and Talalay latex foam.”

When it comes to choosing a mattress, the preferred support is going to be different for everyone, since every person’s body and comfort level is different, according to Patty. Latex, she says, is the perfect sleeping material, particularly for side sleepers, as its ability to conform alleviates areas of high pressure, like shoulders and hips. It also breathes, and is dust mite-resistant, antimicrobial, and biodegradable.

For back and stomach sleepers, mattresses filled with layers of either cotton or wool are excellent options. “All of our mattresses are chemical-free, and are handmade, here on site, the way it’s been done for almost 100 years,” says Annie Chester, a longtime staff member who is part of the Norwalk Mattress “family,” as Patty refers to each employee. “It’s not an assembly line, and every mattress is made to order.”

Patty quickly debunks the myth that a hard mattress makes for a good night’s sleep. “People may not realize it, but they sleep better with some type of cushioning on top of a firm mattress,” she says, “and the variety of pillow toppers that we offer can accommodate virtually anyone.”

Annie concurs: “People may think they want a hard, firm mattress, but they actually prefer the feel of plush and contouring cushioning when they’re sleeping; it shouldn’t feel like they’re lying on the floor!”

Typically, six individual pillow topper panels are zipped inside a case and placed on top of the mattress, with three on the left side of the bed and three on the right. Customers can mix and match the panels, which range from soft to extra firm, depending on what type and how much cushioning they want under each part of their body. “If one spouse likes firmer cushioning, he can choose that, while the other spouse might opt for cushioning that’s more plush, or they can each switch and change the panels to accommodate their desired level of cushioning,” Patty explains. “We have our customers test and experiment with the different panels here in the store. … With pillow toppers, you can create your own custom-designed side of the bed.”

Needless to say, this time around, my husband and I will be visiting Norwalk Mattress to test out and find the perfect mattress for us. For more information, visit norwalkmattress.com or call 203-866-6913.