ONE DREAM & TWO SEWING MACHINES
Over the Years
Colon (Bud) Pendergast’s career in the furniture business started in downtown Appleton. He worked for Jenkins and Wichman’s, both prominent furniture stores in the area. He started in delivery and installation working his way up to be a salesman. When an opportunity arose as a traveling salesman going throughout Wisconsin selling furniture to retailers, Bud jumped at the opportunity.
On May 9th, 1950, Bud and his wife Marcella (Sally) purchased the Neenah Furniture Company at 204 W Wisconsin Ave in Neenah, Wisconsin from Truman Wanty. They changed the name to Pendergast Furniture company. They sold upholstered sofas & chairs, table and chair sets, lamps, coffee tables, and bedroom furniture along with mattresses and box springs.
Monday through Thursday, Bud would travel throughout Wisconsin as a traveling salesman calling on small furniture stores. While Bud was gone, Sally (besides raising five children) would open the store for business as most retailers in those days, from 10-4 on weekdays, starting at noon on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.
The Pendergast Furniture Company ran until 1960. A new store location was purchased at 119 South Appleton Street in Appleton, Wisconsin, and was named The Sleep Shop. A small two-story building of 2,400 square feet, it was at this point that Bud and Sally began manufacturing their own mattresses and selling factory-direct. With just two sewing machines, limited supplies, and help from family and friends, the business continued to grow.
In 1969 The Sleep Shop moved to 339 West College Avenue in Appleton. This unique 5-story building, built in a ravine around 1918, had 20,000 square feet with three basement levels and two upper floors. Formerly home to The Godfornon Food Warehouse, it had an elevator that serviced 4 of the 5 floors. Material came in through the loading dock on the south side of the building that was taken by the elevator to the lower basement levels where products were staged for manufacturing. The sewing department and mattress assembly were done on the first basement level. The ground floor housed the showroom. The upper level held office space where Mr. Bloomer, the person the building was purchased from, had his office. After his retirement the offices were renovated into apartments that were rented to ladies attending the nearby cosmetology school. As the business continued to grow, the apartments were converted to another showroom for bedroom furniture.
In May 1985, Bud passed away from cancer. His sons, Dan and Tom stepped up and purchased the family business. Sally, Dan, and Tom worked together to build and grow The Sleep Shop into the best mattress factory in Wisconsin.
In 1992, once the spaces along College Avenue became too small, the building was sold to the Bergstrom family who turned it into the current Paper Valley Hotel tower. The Sleep Shop moved to the current location at 1176 N Lynndale Drive in Appleton, Wisconsin. Growing to 60,000 square feet with an expanded showroom and manufacturing with 2 quilting machines, 12 sewing machines, 13 employees, drive-up parking, and 3 loading docks.
On November 1st, 2014, at the age of 93, Sally passed away, leaving her sons Dan and Tom to run the business.
In 2019 Dan chose to retire. Tom’s son, Dan, expressed interest in helping run the family business; now Tom and his son Dan are partners and carry on the family legacy.
For over 81 years there has been a Pendergast in the furniture business. For over 60 years the Pendergast family has been fabricating quality bedding at affordable prices right here in Appleton. Today, The Sleep Shop remains a tight-knit, family-owned, and operated business. We continue to manufacture mattresses and maintain the high standards we have always held ourselves to. Over the years, we have learned a lot about mattress making and strive to continue to provide our customers with the absolute best sleeping solutions possible at factory-direct prices.
If you’re looking for top quality products at affordable prices, come see us at The Sleep Shop!