love love love my Sterns and Foster. and Betsy made me envious talking about her feather bed, so I got a Pacific Coast feather bed on top of the S&F and I am in heaven every night. I do not like a firm mattress.
We have a pillowtop (not sure of the brand) and a memory foam topper. The memory foam has made all the difference....a very firm sleep, much better than the pillow top by itself. I wouldn't mind going all memory foam.
I really like the fully foam mattresses.. though they tend to be more expensive. Anyways... I currently have a normal mattress from Verlo (which might be more of a Wisconsin chain... I'm not sure how big it is). I've always had really good customer service from them so ... yeah!
I have a big, smooshy Sealy eurotop (about twice the thickness of a pillowtop) that i love! The one problem i have.. sheets aren't easy to find that fit something that thick.. even the ones that claim to fit all mattresses need some serious conjoling to stay in place.
I had a non-pillowtop Simmons before and i swear it was just as comfortable.. i'd highly recommend the Simmons brand.. i was really surprised at how comfortable they were.. although that made getting out of bed, difficult =)
You'll have to go try them out, Laura.. it's impossible to say.. i'd like to try a memory foam mattress one day.. but people either REALLY like them or REALLY hate them and it's a lot of money for something that's 50/50.
*edit* also, my bed is so high, tucker isn't going to be able to jump up there for many more years.. i'm going to have to buy some stairs for him.. poor thing.
I have a eurotop Sealy that is firm and I like it. I would go to Sears or Sleep Country and lay on whatever they have in stock to see which feels best to you. I think the sales will be starting up any time, so keep an eye out for those.
I bought my Sealy from Costco. It's one with an extra plush top. It does have memory foam on top of it and while I love the bed, memory foam made me sleep hot - felt like I was sleeping on a hot plate. I did buy a feather bed, absolutely love my bed. No more heat. If you can't do down, there are alternative down toppers out there. I have an alternative down pillow that I love. I did have a memory foam topper with my old bed - didn't do a thing for me. One bed I really loved was the Heavenly Bed made by Simmons Beautyrest, the bed made for the Westin Hotels. It is a pillowtop. If you go to a mattress store, ask if they carry that. Different stores will have different names for it, but it will be the same bed. I'm fortunate because one of our Costcos is huge and has all the beds that are on their website on display, so I was able to try them all out. I have heard that pillowtops get divets in them over the years, even the best ones. Some say yes, some say no. With a topper, you can buy a plush top and have a pillowtop and change it out if it gets lumpy. I like a bit of a firm bed, but want to be cushy at the same time.
We have a Restonic pillow top and love it - Steve had a really bad back. We have had it for probably 14 yrs and it is starting to show wear. When we replace it I would like to seriously consider a Sleep by Number bed. A friend of ours is a Chiropractor and researched a lot of beds. He went with a SB# and figures they will never need to buy another bed.
Laura - friends with bad backs got one of the totally latex mattresses - somehow it is covered in something so if you're allergic to latex you don't have a [problem - they love it and when we've had to stay there and used it - it is awesome! Firm but with enough give that you wake up with no sore spots!
Most mattress stores will haggle on the price. Never pay the posted price. Also, sales are a bunch of hooey. They seemed to be having them all the time, so I wouldn't pay the sale price either. Get them to come down on that.