Finding a great mattress outlet
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A mattress is arguably the most important piece of furniture that we own and the time we spend sleeping on it can have a bigger effect on our overall health and well being than almost any other major furniture or household purchase. In spite of this though ... buying a new mattress can also be one of the most confusing, time consuming, and frustrating experiences because there is so little factual information about what really makes one mattress better than another and there are so few people with the knowledge, experience, and integrity to provide meaningful information to consumers.
The only way to truly know the quality of any mattress is to know the construction, materials and components, that are inside it ... and shopping at outlets that either can't or won't provide this information or shopping by brand, advertising claims, subjective ideas of comfort, or the length of a warranty can lead to purchasing a poor quality, less suitable, or poor value mattress or lead to some very expensive mistakes in terms of cost, sleep quality, and durability. It can also lead to many hours of lost time and effort and a great deal of frustration when you spend time trying various mattresses and find one that you like only to discover that there is no way to find out it's real quality, how long it may last, or be able to make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses.
Because of this ... one of the most important things a consumer can do when they are mattress shopping is to first do some preliminary research into any manufacturer or retailer you are considering visiting before you take the time to visit them. What you are looking to find out is their ability and willingness to disclose the materials in their mattresses and their knowledge, experience, and ability to give you the guidance that is necessary to help you make meaningful comparisons and your best possible choices.
The better retailers and factory direct manufacturers will have 3 main qualities that sets them apart from the majority or retailers or manufacturers.
1. They will understand the importance of a consumer knowing the quality specs of every layer of a mattress they are considering, will have the knowledge to help them "translate" the mattress specs so their customers know what they mean, and they will encourage meaningful comparisons between mattresses.
2. They will have the knowledge and experience to help their customers "match" a mattress to their specific needs and preferences so they are less likely to buy a mattress (even if it is great quality and value) that may not work for them.
3. They put the legitimate interests of their customers above their own profit.
The two main parts to solving the mattress shopping puzzle.
The first of these is the ability to get factual information about what is inside your mattress so you can tell higher quality materials from lower quality materials. Without knowing the quality and specifications of the materials in your mattress ... there is no way to make meaningful comparisons, identify the "weak link" of a mattress, or to know how long a mattress may really last. Any mattress ... even those that use lower quality and less expensive materials ... can feel great in the highly managed environment of a mattress showroom. The difference though is that the "showroom feel" doesn't last once you are back in the day to day world of actually sleeping on your new mattress and lower quality materials will soften and degrade much more quickly than higher quality alternatives. The loss of comfort and support that results from this is not covered by warranties and accurate information about what is in a mattress is the only thing that will tell you about its real quality and value.
The second is to find a mattress that is suitable for your height, weight, body shape, sleeping positions, and preferences. This is what we call PPP which means Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences. No matter what your own unique body shape, sleeping positions, and circumstances may be, the two basic functions of every mattress are to relieve pressure on the pressure points of the body and to keep your spine and joints in their natural alignment in all your sleeping positions. After this ... everything boils down to preferences which covers things like sleeping temperature and microclimate, healthier materials, motion isolation, and the overall feel and response of a mattress. The durability that is part of the first part of the puzzle will tell you how long the materials in your mattress will continue to provide you with the PPP that is the reason why you bought it in the first place.
People who truly know the difference between the many different materials and components of a mattress are rare in today's market where marketing stories about "benefits" tend to replace factual information about the quality of the materials that provide those benefits or how long those benefits will last. Unless you are willing to do your own research and become a "mattress materials expert" ... it makes sense to find a retailer or manufacturer where there are "mattress people" who already know what you would otherwise have to learn and have the desire and willingness to give you the benefit of their knowledge. These are people who understand that the value of a mattress is not about the name on the mattress but about how well it matches the needs and preferences of each person and the construction and materials that it's made of.
The art and science of mattress construction
People who also have a good understanding about what makes a mattress suitable for one person and not another are also rare in the industry. There is both a science and an "art" to fitting someone to a mattress that is best for them based on their height, weight, body shape, sleeping positions, and other personal circumstances. People who are good at this and are more interested in your long term satisfaction than they are in their profit or commission can be your best resource and best friend in the mattress shopping jungle. Even the highest quality mattress made from the best materials may have a construction type or layering that makes it completely unsuitable for a particular person no matter how great the value of the mattress may be.
Because of the knowledge and skill that can be involved in making your best choices on your own ... it makes sense to focus your initial efforts on finding the the people who are experts in both mattress materials and fitting their customers to a mattress rather than putting your initial efforts into finding the best mattress when you may not have the knowledge and information that is necessary to know the difference. As it happens ... these types of "mattress people" are fairly easy to find because they exist all around the country at local factory direct mattress manufacturers and the better sleep shops that sell alternative independent or smaller local brands. These are also the type of people who understand and sell real value and because their success depends on reputation rather than advertising, they are much more accountable to their customers.
One of the biggest benefits of these types of outlets is they tend to operate with lower profit margins, they tend to deal directly with the factory that makes their mattresses (or they are owned by the factory) and have a shorter supply chain from manufacturer to customer with fewer "mouths to feed" along the way. This means that they tend to sell mattresses that have significantly better quality at lower prices than outlets that are more focused on the latest story or advertising campaign, know little about what they are actually selling, and have little interest in supplying consumers with information that helps them make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses.
The qualities of better outlets.
Because finding one of these outlets can be your most important first step in mattress shopping, there are a few guidelines that will help you know when you have found one.
1. Employees and/or owners who really know the difference between different types of mattresses and materials and can explain them in both factual and layman's terms that make sense.
2. Merchants and people who are more interested in fitting you to a mattress than they are in the profits they will make (they understand that profits are a side effect not a "cause").
3. Manufacturers and retailers who understand that the value of a mattress is based on the materials in the mattress and how they are put together. These are the type of people who will show you how to compare a mattress based on what is in them rather than the stories that are "attached" to them. These are the manufacturers and retailers who WANT you to know what is in their mattresses and can tell you why each material is used and how durable it is rather than making meaningful comparisons more difficult.
4. Retailers and manufacturers who base their prices on the real cost of what is in the mattress and putting it together more than the fake sales (based on prices that nobldy ever really pays), advertising stories, or sales techniques that try to convince you that a mattress is worth more than it really is or that you were "lucky" to have found such a "great deal".
Always make a phone call before visiting and testing mattresses.
One of the most effective things you can do is to phone each outlet you are considering and "interview" them to get a sense of their level of knowledge and service. The better ones that appreciate better questions and more educated consumers will quickly become apparent.
Here are a few examples of the types of questions you can ask in your "interview" to find out if they meet one the most reliable signs of a better retailer or manufacturer which is the willingness to give you good information on the phone and help identify a few mattresses that would be worth testing if they have a clear sense that you are a serious shopper. They will not only provide better answers but will also ask you better questions focused on finding out what you really need and prefer.
- Can you give your customers a list of all the layers in your mattress including the specific density of any polyfoam or memory foam that is in it?.
- Do you have any latex mattresses that don't have more than an inch or so of polyfoam above the latex?.
- Can you tell me the specific layering, and the density of all the foam in any memory foam mattresses you carry that I may like?.
- Do you have special sales or do you sell your mattresses for a similar price every day of the year?
- Is your listed price your best price?
- Given my weight, height, sleeping positions, preferences, and budget (of course you would need to tell them this) ... which type of mattresses that you carry do you think would be best place to start when I visit you?
- Do you sell mattress based mainly on how they feel or do you help people know how to fit a mattress to their individual needs and preferences and what to look for?
Outlets that can and will answer these types of more specific questions accurately, cheerfully, and without "resistance" and are clearly interested in helping you rather than telling you to "come in and lay on the mattress" before they give you any good information are the ones worth visiting. You will get a clear sense of what to expect by asking these types of questions and it will save you watching a lot of eyes roll and "I'm going on a break" comments if you go into the store and start asking questions about materials and construction without an "interview" first. In those rare cases where there are few outlets of this type within reasonable driving distance ... then there are also some great online outlets that are "experts" in working with their customers on the phone and these along with some local testing to give them some guidelines about your needs and preferences can lead to better choices and value than going to an outlet where a sale is based on the "story or promotion of the day".
For all these reasons and many more ... alternative or local independent mattress manufacturers who sell factory direct or through through smaller sleep shops with knowledgeable staff are the best source of quality and value in a mattress. If you don't know of any in your area, then a question on the forum with your zip or city can help identify them for you.
Finding the "better" outlets in your area as a first step can be just as important as trying to find your best mattress without having the real knowledge to do so. A knowledgeable manufacturer or sleep shop that carries mattresses that have real value, that you can trust to give you accurate, meaningful information, and are focused more on educating their customers than they are on "selling" their customers, can turn mattress shopping from a difficult and frustrating experience filled with roadblocks and uncertainty into one that is actually enjoyable and save you many hours of research and frustration. It can also lead to finding your "perfect" mattress and many years of restful and healthy sleeping at prices that are better every day than the best sale prices of the larger outlets.