Shifman & Bro. Mattress Company was founded in 1893 when brothers, Abraham and Samuel Shifman established a manufacturing company dedicated to superior quality bedding. Twenty-three years later, Samuel bought out his brother’s interest and changed the company’s name to Shifman Bros., Inc. when his three sons, Milton, Simon and Arthur joined the company. In 1918, the company moved to its current location at One Mott Street in Newark, NJ. Throughout the 20th century, the Shifman family was slow to adjust to changes in the industry. Consumers wanted firmer bedding, more fashionable covers and brand name recognition.
In 1985, when Mike Hammer purchased the company from Robert and Burton Shifman, grandsons of Samuel, the company had deteriorated badly. Over the next several years, Mike Hammer changed the name to Shifman Mattress Company and instituted several improvements to its manufacturing procedure. The design changes had a positive effect on consumers.
In 1994, Mike’s youngest son, Bill, joined the team and is currently the company’s president. In 2008, the company expanded its facility by 40 percent in order to enhance its manufacturing capabilities and meet the growing demand for its mattresses.
Mattresses & Bedding
Vincenzo took the shots above on Park Avenue just south of Broadway with his iPhone. So this is my theory. From the look of the fonts and the weathering, the signs written on the brick between the windows are clearly very early 20th-century (c.1910). My guess is the sign for Broadway Sleep Mart can be anywhere from 1930’s to 1940’s. I’m going to assume that the proprietors conducted their business at the Park Avenue location for several decades and then outgrew their space and moved up the street on Broadway. The public records above show the address at 835 Broadway with an incorporation of 1956 – up the street a bit in a larger space, now a laundromat. Vincenzo also points out that the Park Avenue location may have been maintained as a warehouse. I’m also inferring from these records that in 1962, they changed the name of the store.
Often Vincenzo or I will snap a hand-painted sign and a whole history will reveal itself. Sometimes the past is a bit more elusive and the juxtaposing hints belie the writing on the wall. Last year I posted Vincenzo’s images of the Hemley Supply Company thinking it was a sheet metal supply. Earlier this week I received this e-mail from Debbie Hemley:
I came across your book today and was thrilled to find it. What a wonderful collection of images and great thing to document!
My father’s old warehouse for mattresses and bedding supplies, in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn had that type of painted ad and none of us had been down there in almost twenty years. We’re all in Massachusetts now. Earlier this year my sister went to the location at 300 Meserole Street and we were thrilled to discover that the painted ad was still there and hadn’t faded! Attaching photos that she took.
Loved too to learn that you’re a long-term survivor of AIDS. I’m a long-term survivor of Leukemia and there’s something so unique and transforming about longterm survivorship–that not everyone quite gets.
As fate has it, not only did Debbie’s e-mail solve another mystery, but it confirms the transformative nature of survival. Why some of us die after diagnosis and treatment and why some of us endure will still remain a mystery.
- The Loyal Order by Debbie Hemley – Hippocampus Magazine