After a multi-year hiatus, Gorge Bedquarters is back in business, selling affordable, like-new mattresses and unusual wood furniture, and it’s again at 1800 W. 10th St., in the same building as Bustos and Hernandez Construction.
Owner Bridget Bryan originally opened her store in 2000, then closed it in 2012 to have knee replacement surgery. The store moved four times in its first 12-year run, but is back at the same address it left from in 2012.
She decided to reopen her business earlier this year because “I liked what I did when I did it. And I like providing low-cost mattresses and being around beautiful furniture. I have never been a wealthy person but I do like to see pretty things. I don’t have to own them.”
Her hours are limited. The store is open Thursday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“All the years I was in business I had a wonderful dog who was a greeter.” But Daphne, a bouvier mix, died four or five years ago, Bryan said.
The store is small at around 300 square feet, but Bryan has plenty of merchandise, which is spilling out into adjacent areas.
She said her landlord, Michael Bustos, “has been very kind.”
Her friend, Edith Webster, has provided some of her own items. “And then she got some more, and she got some more.”
Bryan advertises regularly in The Dalles Chronicle, saying, “I believe in newspapers. Everybody loves Facebook but I’m too old school for that.”
Bryan got started in her business when she asked a friend who owned an antique shop in Bingen to also sell the wool blankets and coats that she bought at thrift stores.
Her product didn’t move, though, so she decided to go into business on her own.
She first opened a store called Frigid Weather Outerwear (a play on the way her name is often spelled, Brigid). But then she realized she couldn’t “live off of wool blanket money” so she added inventory from the Bingen store.
Then, one day a lady came in her store and asked if she could put her queen sized pillowtop mattress up for sale there.
“I said, ‘Sure, if you don’t mind it sitting here forever and ever.’”
Well, “People came in and said, ‘Oh, what a lovely mattress.’” And meanwhile, she was sitting there thinking, “’What about my lovely furniture?’”
Then customers asked her, “’What happened to your mattress?’ ‘Well, I sold it. I’m not a museum.’”
So she decided to put up a sign saying she sold mattresses. “It changed my life.”
She found herself in the quality used mattress business. What she thought would be “a side deal” ended up being the majority of her inventory. “They wanted second hand because they’re less money, but they wanted them to be good.”
She became known as “mattress lady” and “bed queen,” she said.
For years she went to Portland “once a week in my old red truck with a homeless guy who was a better driver than I was.” She got her mattresses from Bedtime Mattress in Portland, a family owned business that started in the 1930s. She said of their store, “You go in there, it’s beautiful. I mean, if you’re a bed person.”
Bryan and Webster kept up a steady banter during an interview at the Chronicle recently. Bryan said, “We like to keep things humorous, because why focus on anything else, because it will give you bad health.”
Webster lauded Bryan as “very philanthropic. When she has almost nothing, she gives.”
She said to Bryan, “You never quit, you never stop, and you are constantly trying to bless someone.”
Webster added, “She’s a very generous person and I want the city to know about her and bless her store.”
Webster said Bryan has a goal of hiring men from a local halfway house.
Bryan said others would “want me to pay way too much and want to work way too much and want me to be way too normal.”
Bryan said she came from a “wonderful Irish-Catholic family” that “never got a new bed in their life.”
She’s been at her current location since late spring. Her previous locations were on West Second Street, downtown, and on Terminal Avenue.
With her latest business venture, Bryan said, “I’m a lot older than I was the first time I started, so it takes a little longer, and I’m poorer than the first time I started.”
“Ever since I got married—and it’s lasted 50 years—I realize what commitment is. And I have to think, do I want to put my energy into this?”
She does, but she is keeping limited hours. She’s also got limited space. “I used to have a lot more room than I do now, but I still handle as much as I can fit in there.”