Lesson 3 – Decide Where to Shop

Now that you’re clear on how long you want your new mattress to last, and what you’re willing to spend, it’s time to figure out where you’ll buy your new mattress.

Depending on the size of your city or town, there may be only a couple of retailers near you, or your options may be plentiful. There are several type of stores that sell mattresses:

  • independently owned stores — may be large with a wide variety of inventory, or small and boutique-like
  • national or regional department stores
  • big box discount stores known for cheap or “bargain” mattresses, or for perpetually running “sales” or “deals”

No two mattress stores are quite alike. In one, you might feel right at home, whereas in another, you’ll feel like running right back out the door. It’s important to find a trustworthy and knowledgeable mattress retailer with a solid reputation.

If you’re new to the mattress marketplace, you probably have lots of questions.

Whom should you trust? How much research should you do beforehand? Should you comparison shop? Is it expected that customers will haggle over price with the salesperson? What kind of shopping experience do you want?

Here’s how to qualify a mattress store before you ever set foot inside.

  • Read customers’ online reviews. Check out Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, and Better Business Bureau. While you can’t expect that every review posted is going to be 5 stars, the preponderance of evidence should lead you to believe the store has good to great customer service, fair prices, and good value for the money. If a store seems to have wildly mixed reviews online — i.e. just as many negative reviews as positive ones — it’s probably a good idea to look for a store where the bulk of reviews are 4 or 5 stars.
  • Evaluate the store’s website and social media presence. Does the store have a social media presence? Customers today usually want to research and learn about a business and its offerings online before visiting in person. While an outdated-looking website doesn’t always mean an outdated store, a fresh, current website usually indicates that the business is in-tune with what today’s customers want.
  • Look for mattresses made from earth-based fiber materials, not chemicals. This can be a little harder to find, as chemical-laden mattresses are SO popular these days and sometimes marketed under the name “natural.” When you’re perusing a mattress store’s website, look for materials like wool, cotton, organic cotton, buckwheat, kapok, botanical latex, down, and bamboo. These materials all come from the earth and will be easier on your body (not to mention on the earth). Avoid stores that highly tout memory foam, gel foam, and other types of “magical” mattress materials that are actually chemical foams wrapped in clever marketing. In addition, look for stores that carry two-sided, flippable mattresses. (More on this in Lesson 3.)
  • Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Ask people you know, like, and trust where they bought their last mattress and to tell you about their experience. Usually, a truly positive (or negative) experience is remembered, whereas a run of the mill experience leaves little impression. Do due diligence by asking for personal recommendations from people you know and listen for statements like these: “I love that store,” “That’s a great store,” “Ask for [employee’s name]. She’ll take good care of you,” “They really took the time to listen to me.” These are all indicators that the store in question does a good job of connecting with customers. Also be sure to ask people how they like their mattress — especially if it’s been 3 or more years since they purchased it. Give more weight to those recommendations than you do to recommendations from people with newer mattresses. Almost all mattresses feel good for a while. You’re looking for a store selling products that last.

Where will you shop for a mattress? Make a short list of stores that meet your criteria and get ready to shop!

But before you go, here are 2 more things to know:

Budget some time

It’s important to shop when you’re not under time constraints. If you’re in a hurry or feel rushed by a sales person, you’re at risk of making a bad decision.

Dress comfortably

Wear clothing that will allow you to get a feel for the mattress you’re testing. If you need to wear a coat or a thick sweater, plan to take it off before testing the mattresses. (Extra cushioning can change the feel of a mattress significantly.) Also plan to take off your shoes; socks are probably a good bet, even if you bring them along and put them on later.

Prepare to test rest

You didn’t plan to buy a mattress without trying it out first, did you? Once you’ve narrowed your options to 2 or 3 mattresses at the most, you’ll want to give them each a 10-15 minute test rest. If you share the bed with a partner, have that person along to test rest, too. Lie down and rest on the mattress in the position(s) you most frequently sleep. If you sleep on your side, lie on your side. If you sleep on your back, lie on your back. While this is no substitute for a month of sleeping (the amount of time recommended for acclimating your body to a new sleep surface), a 10-15 minute test rest should give you a sense of whether you’re free of pressure points and are getting proper support.

Now you’re dressed comfortably, you’ve got the time, and you’re ready to try out a few mattresses. Fantastic. Now it’s time to talk about 2-sided mattresses.

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