In this blog entry I want to spend some time on the story of a woman everyone at Gallery Furniture calls the Colonel. That's what I call Susie Barlow because she spent 25 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
I've known the Colonel for years now. After duty in Europe and the Middle East, Colonel Barlow came to Houston in 1999 and spent the remainder of her military career in Houston, San Antonio, and Washington.
The Colonel bought her first Tempur-Pedic from Gallery Furniture years ago. Her mother had come to Houston for a visit, fell ill and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her mother ended up in a nursing home, but Barlow decided to bring her home after a doctor told her the older woman would die if she stayed in the nursing home. The Colonel needed a bed for her mother. Gallery Furniture had just started selling Tempur-Pedic and the Colonel had decided to buy one. She still has it. She says it was her first experience with Gallery Furniture and same-day delivery. In fact, the delivery truck was waiting when she got home.
The Colonel's mother used the Tempur-Pedic when she was home and the Colonel's daughter, who has cerebral palsy, slept on it at other times. The Colonel says the bed seemed to help her daughter's physical condition. She stopped dragging her leg and her walk improved. It was an easy decision to buy another Tempur-Pedic.
The next Tempur-Pedic came to the Colonel’s house because her husband Doug loved the Celebrity bed so they decided to buy a king-sized Tempur-Pedic for themselves. Doug had an athlete's problems with his knees and did not sleep well in a regular bed. In fact, the Colonel says he had bought all kinds of pillows trying to get comfortable and even gone to the extreme of buying thick plywood to put under the mattress. "I look back at what we spent trying to get a good night's sleep, all that money for pillows." It turns out, what they needed was a Tempur-Pedic. They also needed the Tempur-Pedic pillows. They came back for those the next day.
Not long after that the Colonel's mother got worse. She had several strokes, blood clots, and had to have a foot amputated. When it was time to bring her home, the Colonel returned to Gallery Furniture to furnish an invalid's room. Bedding supervisor Brandon Jackson set her up with an adjustable Tempur-Pedic, a lift chair, and everything needed for the room. The Colonel says the Gallery delivery team did everything needed to put the room together, even making up the bed.
The adjustable bed and lift chair have done wonders for her mother according to the Colonel. Because she can raise and lower the bed for reading, watching television, and resting, it “lets her feel like she is in charge of her own well-being." She spends a lot of time in bed, but with the Tempur-Pedic she has never had a bedsore.
"It's changed my mom's quality of life. It's the simplest thing you can do to change the quality of life for a parent who is ill." She recommends the Tempur-Pedic for any "boomers who are caring for aging parents."
That makes a total of five Tempur-Pedic sleep systems in the Colonel's home. And she says her father, who lives in another house, bought one for himself.
Before the Colonel retired she made several visits to Gallery Furniture with soldiers who needed furniture. In 2004 she was here with a couple of soldiers in uniform showing them the Tempur-Pedics. "I lay down on the bed and said you're never going to buy another bed." One of the salesmen handed her a Gallery Furniture shirt, telling her "you can sell these better than I can."
Another customer in the store overheard her talking and bought a Tempur-Pedic, so I can say she did sell a mattress. She was in the store another time talking to someone looking at a Tempur-Pedic and they bought one, so she sold another mattress.
Not long after that the Colonel was invited to make a television commercial for us. She cleared it with the military and came in, sat down, and started talking to me. The camera was rolling and it wasn't long before we had a commercial. That TV spot started something for the Colonel.
"People talk to me about that commercial everywhere. Not long ago a man chased me down in another store and said 'I know you, you're in that commercial.' Everywhere I go people quiz me about the Tempur-Pedic."
Why did she do the commercial? She did not get paid or get a free mattress. She says she did it because she believes in Tempur-Pedic.
"People should know it's a great product. People should know what it's done for my mother."
To that I will add -- people should know the Colonel. I'm proud to know her and glad Gallery Furniture has been able to help her family. People in service need our thanks and our appreciation.