Buying a Mattress for Dummies

Buying a mattress is as frustrating an experience as people say. I did not want to believe it since I figured the number of mattress outlets in the area that incessantly advertise their “low low prices” bodes well for any prospective buyer. While that is still largely true, my nouveau mattress buying experience tells me one must be very patient, very meticulous and willing to negotiate to get a good mattress at a fair price.

I have never purchased a mattress before. TB bought our current bed shortly after she left college and it has held up reasonably well over the years. We finally decided to move from a queen to a king as we start having old people muscle and joint issues and could use the extra space.

Being the decisive, efficient engineer I laid the ground rules early expressing my desire to find a mattress quickly and to avoid dillydallying and waffling at all costs. I was spectacularly unsuccessful. TB and I visited five different establishments over a two week period in our quest to find the perfect mattress. We visited a few of the five multiple times. We tested so many mattresses, lying down, tossing about then bouncing up became part of my cardio routine.

The salespeople were helpful and most did a good job staying out of our way. The exception was the guy at Sleep Country who was nowhere to be found until we had been in the store for 3 minutes (odd because he was the only one working) but followed us around expounding the technical details about the manufacturing of each bed. When he started talking about Tibetan mountain goat wool and Peruvian alpaca hooves, I gave him the “stop playin'” look and made a beeline for the exit.

Including travel I estimate we spent six hours on the fact-finding component of our mission before narrowing our options down to a particular make & style of mattress (Sealy Eurotop). As we entered the critical value/price stage we limited our choices between a well-established retail furniture store that we had previous history with and one of the maverick, underdog outlets that would be more open to cutting a deal.

We started with the The Macy’s Furniture Store which had 6 professionally-attired salespeople all working the mattress department practically tripping over each other to earn the commission. The saleswoman who assisted us seemed very knowledgeable with sound advice. The mattress we really wanted was on sale but the “low low price” was still several hundred dollars more than we wanted to spend. I coaxed TB into taking the lead on the negotiations. The negotiations turned out to be surprisingly short. After TB indicated we were interested in purchasing the mattress, the saleswoman immediately started trying to upsell us on the warranty ($100+). We had not even decided whether we were buying the mattress yet and she was already trying to line her pockets with doodads at our expense. TB dexterously indicated we wanted to pay a specific amount then we were basically told Macy’s does not discount their prices — presumably everyone pays the same price. Fair enough. No deal. Not willing to lose a potential sale, the saleswoman asked us to consider purchasing a lesser model that was closer to the price we had established. We said thanks but no and left.

We then went to King’s Mattress. This store had two guys in polo shirts sitting at a makeshift station littered with clipboards situated front-and-center. One was talking on his cell phone the other was chatting with a buddy. One of the guys recognized us from our previous visit so his eyes lit up as he told us, “Take your time and I’d be happy to assist you in anyway I can.” We did take our time to make sure the mattress we had previously selected was still on the top of our list and of the same caliber as the one at Macy’s. TB and I had previously discussed what we were willing to pay so everything was a go. TB indicated it was my turn to negotiate although she really did not have to negotiate during her turn. I waved the salesman over and pretty much told him we liked the mattress but wanted to know if the price was negotiable — I did not give him a price. He indicated it was and said he would see what he could do. He and the other salesman had a scripted dialog in front of us which included visual aids like last month’s sales prices. He then offered us the mattress just under the price we were willing to pay but we would have to pay for delivery. I did not want to rock the boat too much but paying for delivery is for suckers. I indicated the price was good but I did not want to pay for delivery. He hemmed and hawed as instructed in Section 5.A.V.iii of the employee manual and eventually agreed.

Obviously, since we got the mattress at the price we wanted (it came to 22% off) with free delivery with little effort we probably could have negotiated an even better deal (25-30%). But I do believe in karma and felt good about the purchase so we paid and left.

Since this was my first mattress buying experience I am still a novice. However, here are some things I observed/learned:

  1. No two stores in the same area will offer the same models. Do not waste your time looking for the exact same mattress across two stores.
  2. Take your time.
  3. Lift the mattress. Its weight tells a lot more about its construction than lying on it.
  4. Take off your jacket and lie on the mattress for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Negotiate the price. If they do not want to negotiate go somewhere that will. You will save money without sacrificing quality.
  6. Do not pay for delivery. Tell them Keith said it’s for suckers.


2 Replies to “Buying a Mattress for Dummies”

  1. Thanks! We’re starting to look tonight, and I feel as loving towards furniture salesmen as car salesmen…wish us luck! =)


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