[AMA] I Worked for a Big Mattress/Bedroom Furniture Store, Ask Me Anything

For three years, I used to work in a big mattress/bedding store in a regional city as a salesman and on occasion fill in delivery guy.

I'd love to answer your questions on the industry. Go ahead, ask me anything!

closed Comments

  • +1

    With the King Size beds. Is it really an OHS issue that the bases must be 2 king size units rather than 1 big base?

    • +8

      It's not an Ohs issue, it's a size issue. If a king base was 1 big base instead of 2 it would be harder to get into places, especially multi-storey homes and units. Mattresses are fine to move as they flex

    • king size bases wont fit through most doors.

  • +1

    Do some people really pay $5000+ just for a mattress?

    • +2

      Yeah, on occasion.
      The ones I had were usually rich business owners that came in and chose and payed quickly and also cashed up farmers.
      alot of $3-4k mattresses were purchased, quite often financed

      • +2

        Jeez, I only ever hear about cashed-up farmers making extravagant purchases, or dirt poor farmers struggling to survive from news articles.

        • +6

          They're one and the same, depending on rainfall & crop success.

  • +1

    What is your favourite brand in general? Any good mattresses to be aware of? And most importantly, how would you compare the “real mattresses” withe the “out of the box” ones?

    • +3

      Favourite brand in general is a tough one.

      I've found Sealy to be the best reliability wise, and they are a bit more comfortable now then they used to be.

      Good mattresses to be aware of- Good mattresses are objective. It depends on your size and preferences. Many people are sold into the hype of pocket springs, but I don't feel that they are all their cracked up to be. Often times the springs themself quite soft. I prefer more traditional spring systems, as they offer more support for my (large) frame. So anything sealy is good, I like sleepmaker miracoils they are nice too.
      As an aside- Ikea makes some absolutely fantastic firm spring mattresses.

      Mattresses in a box are interesting, the memory foam ones are great value, their prices far superior to "real mattresses"
      I'd like to see how they go over the years, ie seven years in to see foam consistency, to see how they hold up. As long as you've got a warranty, its great!

      • I bought an Aldi one, it has been great so far. 2 months in lol best sleep I've had in 6 or 7 years

        • Thats awesome! A lot of springs arrve to the big companies compressed in a roll.

  • Ever slept in the beds during your shift?

    • +3

      Never slept, but I tested and tried them all. Gotta know what it feels like before you try to sell it.

      Did lie down on a $7000 when came to work feeling ill once, was hard to stay awake.

  • Hi, do you have any mattresses on sale at the moment?

    • Don't work their anymore. Sure the stores have 50% off everything

  • +5

    Question 1: what’s the average markup? Seems they’re always 40% off
    Question 2: Do the salespeople or their son/daughter/friend/dog really have “the exact same mattress” at home?


    • +11

      Huge markup. 100-300%
      Exclusive/ Home brands always have higher margins. Furniture has far less margin.

      All of us employees liked different mattresses and different things.

      • Thanks mate, always wondered about the markup.

        • I should mention that that markup is on full priced items, on sale they can be reduced to less then that.

      • Actually more. Cost and shipping may be 50% of the cost of furniture, but shipping is usually around 30%, cost around 20%. Depends on how a store sources and costs their stock.

        • We normally sourced from national suppliers. The shipping wasn't too bad. I'm sure the supplier factored it in though.

  • Is there a reason why we sleep on mattresses instead of coffin like boxes? Did you ever see something like that available for sale, on special order or something like that?

    • +77

      Coffin like boxes. That industry is a bit dead.

      • +2

        What happened to it? When was this?
        edit: oh. A joke. right

      • Oh snap. Gold medal for 2018. Go home every one else.

  • Are features like 3/5 zones, gel layer, memory foam latex comfort layers worth the money, or are they just marketting crap?

    • +1

      A bit of both, sometimes the claims are exaggerated/hyped up. All the features are worthwhile but don't make as huge a difference as you would think.

      A big problem with Gel foam layers is that people often put on 1000 thread count sheets and big mattress protectors. Sort of negates the benefits of the gel layer.

      Zoning- Not sure, some companies swear by it, others not so much

      Latex is hot- but also comfy!

  • best way to go about purchasing a new mattress, eg finding the right one that rests the individual?

    • +4

      Don't be reactionary. If your old mattress is too soft, don't go buy the firmest mattress and vice versa. Lie down on the mattress for a fair amount of time. Realize that once sheets and protectors are on that the mattress will feel a little firmer than the shop floor.
      The thicker the top layer the more body impressions/marks you will get.

      Find the feel you like and try mattresses in that feel.

      Ask about reliability.
      Also if aussie made is a big thing for you, ask if the mattress is entirely aussie made. Some brands will use chinese spring systems and assemble in aus. Some brands make springs here.

      • What brands make springs here?

        I am always told that all springs are made in China.

        • As far as I remember and could have changed now…

          Some mid range to higher end sleep maker/Simmons mattresses
          and sealy.

          Not sure about other brands

  • I have a 14yo mattress with a 15 year warranty. I don't need to make a warranty claim but what would be involved in the process. I've never heard of family or friend making warranty claims on mattresses. It it very common? Thanks op

    • +7

      I read 'mistress'.

    • +2

      I bought a higher-end ikea mattress years ago - it included a 20 year warranty. 4ish years in, a girlfriend mentioned my mattress was a bit wonky. Once I removed all the sheets and traced my finger along the mattress topper I noticed there was a definite body impression: there was a "valley" in my mattress of about 6cm, pretty well defined.

      I called ikea and I think they said anything behind 4cm is a warranty issue. I can't remember if I found my receipt or just did a multi-year credit card search but I found something like a proof of purchased and was given cash to buy a new mattress. Given how easy the process was, I went to ikea first but they only stock medium-firm or firm mattresses now (medium was my firmness limit).

      Warranty repairs/replacements depends on the defect. Corner/edge damage may not be covered (stop sitting on the edges). Get a string and draw it across the mattress to get a straight line, then take a ruler and see how deep the indent is - don't put much downward pressures on the ruler. Take a picture. Call the manufacturer/retailer and see if it's too deep. Obviously if you press down on the ruler it'll go deeper but if it's too far off what they measure, I'm sure they'll make your claim as difficult as possible.

      • If you are a fussy customer and stand your ground. The claim will go through.

      • +1

        i was waiting for the punchline…

      • IKEA allows refunds for a lot of things, they're really good at their warranty claims. Mainly because the products are all their own brand and they try and keep the mentality of good customer service to keep repeat customers.

  • +1

    People warranty return far less than you think. Normally within the 2-4 year mark.

    The most common problems are- body impressions/indentations on the top and also lack of support/spring giving way.

    Generally, if body impressions are severe, the customer will tell us and send us some photos. We send them to the manufacturer and they organize either a return and repair or replacement. Or if a lack of support we will inspect it/ try it and report back to the manafacturer who will replace or refund.

    So many people have mattresses they hate after 6 or 7 years and they come in and buy a new one. Would be worth their while to do a warranty claim.

    • My 2 cents: I find the warranties on mattresses to be rather useless. They all have exclusions about 4 or 5 or more centimetre indents being within normal limits… but a mattress that sags down 4 cm is going to be massively uncomfortable. Our old mattress was fine for the first 18 months, but thereafter it sagged a few centimetres at most but it was really hurting our backs. To look at it, it looked fine, but where people slept on either side it was significantly softer, and was firmer in the middle. We rotated it regularly, but it made no difference. So I completely understand why most people don't claim on mattresses, it's because they're very hard to claim on. Plus you've got the transport issue - you can't just easily take it back to the store and say "look at this, it seems broken, and here's my receipt", like you can for most goods. Family members who have had mattress problems also found the warranties on them to be very poor.

      • Oh man, our store must have been different. If we knew something wasn't right, even if the measurement was in the acceptable paramaters we'd send it back. Must be different nationwide.

        We did our own delivery service so often we'd go out on our delivery run and do the inspection for customers.

  • How do u guys make money When people buy a matress every 20 years.. And most matresses are baught online or elsewhere?

    • +5

      Most people buy a mattress every 7-10 years. Occasionally an oldie would come in who had a 20-30yo mattress. Also 20 somethings who purchased a cheap first mattress would come back and change pretty soon after. People often buy spare room mattresses too.

      I'd disagree about buying mattresses online. Lots of people purchase in brick and moar stores because they want to try before they buy.

  • +3

    Do you use the phrase "you spend 1/3 of your life in bed, might as well spend more money on a mattress / pillow?"

    • +3

      Oh yeah that was mentioned all the time. Sorta is true isn't it.

  • Where would you go to buy the best "bang for buck" mattress and what would you recommend? Excluding online.

    • +4

      Best bang for your buxk- I think with name brands, their 600-900ish dollar (queen size range) offer awesome value. Comfy and a nice strong spring set and aussie made for a decent price. I found that they didnt have many warranty returns eithe, because they were a nice simple sturdy mattress.

      Also, ikea has nice firm mattresses. not fussed on the softer ones. A brand called "advanced comfort" are worth checking out too. Not a name brand, but aussie made and offered some nice value for money to get ahead of competition.

  • Also is there really much of a difference between an 10k mattress and one that costs 2-3k?

    • Oh yeah, you can feel it when you lie down. But is it worth 7k more? Probably not.

  • I bought a mattress and a base from Snooze. But when I was putting it together, I noticed the base was not level. (I know the floor is level and legs were screwed in all the way) But once I put on the mattress and slept on it for a week or two, the base stopped 'wiggling?'ie became level. Is it normal for a base to be not level on delivery?

    • Yeah that's not normal, I never had a customer report that problem. :-( glad it has stopped wriggling for you

  • what is the profit margin? and what it your commission rate?

    • +3

      We were put on a nice hourly rate, and a very very low commission. Our boss didn't want us selling certain items just to benefit ourselves.

      I know that a lot of mattress companies have big commissions and bonuses on what they sell. Some stores have a policy that they must take you to try one of their higher profit higher commission home brand beds when you come in.

      Profit margins high 100-300 percent.

      • So should people just avoid going to the big brand store?

        • +4

          No, they still offer great products and have great knowledge.

          They often have a large range and can help you find the right one, some of the online companies only produce one or two styles of mattresses.

          I feel that the big guys can offer better deals than lots of the independents with buying power too.

          I should mention that that markup is on full priced items, on sale they can be reduced to less then that

        • +1

          Thank you for your input

  • Which is better for your back when sleeping? Mattress or Hard Floor?

    • +2

      Hmm interesting question.
      Hard floor may be better for your back
      But not for your hips or shoulders, too much pressure

  • mattress or water bed for a bad back?

    • +1

      Mattress- and Medium Firm

  • What do you think of the mattresses in a box such as Summoto?

    • Love that they have 100 night trials, can't say i've tested them though

  • +1

    I bought my mattress 35 years ago. Does that freak you out??

    It is still “flat” and feels as comfortable as ever. It is inner spring type of course. I bought it in Chile when I worked there in the 80s. You have probably never heard of the brand -ROSEN. Just say’in. It’s designed to be able to use on either side as it has slightly different “firmness” on each side. Sometimes every few years I turn if over to even out any wear, just like I rotate the tyres on my car-your mileage may vary!! Thanks for your responses.

    • +3

      Doesn't freak me out, as long as you sleep comfortably.

      What does freak me out is when customers asked for me to remove their 35 year old mattresses. Some were so dirty and smelled so bad
      that it made me wanna spew.

  • We recently bought a queen posturepedic from H Normans during a "VIP night"… I already know that each store gets exclusive naming of their ranges from Sealy (ie you will never find the exact same model in Myer vs David Jones vs Snooze etc) but…

    • Are they all the same within their respective price brackets? Ie Posturepedic queen in the $2k RRP bracket would be the same unit in any shop?

    • We got the $2400 RRP mattress for half price, then extra 10% off making it just over $1000. H Norman would still be making big $$$? Or only modest $?

    • How bad does body indentation or loss of firm have to be to claim warranty? Because I read your reply above and didn't think to warranty claim before buying new…

    • All are the same in their respective price brackets, we often matched harveys in our similiar competing ranges.

      Pretty nice price on your mattress- If its in the same bracket as I remember, that range on boxing day discounts would go to $1099 for a firm to $1399 as a plush when on a big discount.

      They still would have made a bit. Depending on level of firmness I'd say mabye $300

      Body indentation- Pushy customers always get a return, otherwise they ask to check that its past a certain amount of centimetres, The exact amount varies by brand.

      Loss of firmness- Normally we'd just have a quick lie down and could tell.

      • Thx mate, yeah we got the firm (not the super firm).

        Damn, maybe we should have tried IKEA and saved some $$!

        Our existing (to be replaced with the new purchase) mattress is definitely not firm anymore, even though it was originally. In saying that, the base/frame has a big impact on the feel of the mattress, right/wrong?

        … just thinking, could you make an old mattress OK again by putting it onto a great frame?

        • So the base/frame has a big difference.

          To see if it is the base that is the problem, try placing your mattress on th, the floor.

          Is it noticeably firmer and feeling better?

          If so, then your base probably needs some bulking up. Drill in a few 2x4 pieces, should do the trick.

          If the mattress still feels soft then it may need a warranty return

  • I got a base + mattress reduced from about 4 grand to 1.8 grand quite a while ago.
    I used to think I was really cool for getting that. I wasn't cool, was I?

    More recently, I went to a small bed shop, and bought at 1.6k mattress. The owner would only knock off $200 and give me free delivery.
    Some no-brand Asian mattress. This has been the best mattress I've ever had, and it's taken away my back pain.

    Did I get ripped off in either deal?

    • +4

      If you felt cool for getting it, and felt comfortable in both.
      Then be happy they were worth it :-P

  • Tempur adjustable beds and matresses, Are they worth it?

    • I've got mixed feelings. I always found them a bit to firm and hard to roll over in. The cooling is not always their either.
      But, their foam construction is unique, they are great to deal with as a company. If you must have that distinct tempur feel, go for it.
      If not, try something else.

      • -1

        Just letting you know, you can't use the spelling of 'their' for everything. Also appropriate is : they're for 'they are', there for 'over there' and their for 'their mattress'.

        • +3

          Thanks! :)

  • Two questions:

    Are there any magic tips to remove stains and marks from mattresses?

    What is the best bang for buck matteress you know of?

    • Best bang for buck,
      I love sleepmaker miracoils- around $6-700 bucks.
      ikea makes nice firm mattresses too.

      Cleaning, I dont have any magic tips sorry. ;-(

      • +1

        Thanks for your responses!

  • OK, we've heard the sales stories what about the delivery ones. Any desperate housewives?

    • No great delivery stories.
      No desperate housewives.

      Sometimes people were crazy and weren't happy with anything.

  • +1

    How much volume did you do every day? I've always wondered how mattress stores survived considering the large retail (and hence rent) space that is required… The number of mattress stores in general has always stuck myself as odd considering that it doesn't seem like a particularly profitable industry from an outsiders perspective.

    • We were lucky, our boss built the store in the 80s and owned it.

      During the week sales could be low, but always big on weekends when dad and mum and the whole family come in.

      That being said, often their were quite large purchases made in the midweek. It's not uncommon for people to purchase a 3k bedroom suite and a 2k mattress to go with it. That makes the midweek more exciting

      In one homemaker centre nearby their are over 7 stores that sell mattresses it's crazy but there is good money in it.

      Also staffing can be quite low, many stores only have one or two salesman in midweek.

  • +2

    Did you accept trade ins?

    • +2

      Nope. Gross.

      If someone had a genuinely good mattress and wanted us to get rid of it wed donate it to Vinnies.

  • Did you like it?

    • Yep it was great, although rough on slow days. I'd love to start my own mattress franchise one day :-p

  • Com structure?

    • +2

      We didn't do much off commision, just a small bonus based off a percentage of what we made the company. We got a good retainer for the job. Boss didn't want commisions making us sell garbage to the customer

      • +1

        Thank your for your answer!

  • Didn't see it asked above - what bed do you currently sleep on and why?

    If you could afford any bed what would it be?

    • +1

      A sleepmaker- its a 5 zone miracoil with a latex top. It just had the perfect medium feel. My wife likes a plush feel and I like them too but wanted a bit firmer for my back. This mattress felt like the perfect balance between strong support and a soft pillow top.

      Any bed… hmmm

      Airelooms are really nice, just pure luxury, they've got an awesome soy based foam in them too.
      Also crown make some great mattresses, they do a luxury mattress with a hand quilted top. Awesome old style handmade feeling.

  • Given the huge mark ups you have mentioned, do you let customers haggle you down? And often what’s the discount allowed for you to accept without needing further approval?

    • +5

      Manager didn't like haggling, the shop owner always wanted the sale so he liked it. It was around 10-15 percent before I needed approval.

      Didn't have much wriggle room on the 50 percent off stuff. Even though people try.

      I wish that nice customers could be rewarded with a discount for niceness but it was always the tooly hagglers that got the best deals.

      • Would you say that 50% off is a decent discount and the most you can get unless you buy loads of other stuff?

        • +3

          Yeah, sometimes ie. boxing day you could try for 60 bring cash. Or on other days, get them to throw in pillows and mattress protectors.

      • That’s always the case. I tried haggling hard, but in the end somehow I walked out paying standard price and got up sold some other stuff lol. I felt like a fool afterwards, this was at snooze. But I was getting married and was moving out relatively soon.

        Also, is it common for the store not to hold stock, and just order it when they’ve made the sale? I remember I had to wait 5 weeks for delivery (even though I was promised 3 weeks). I was told due to the manufacturers or something….

        • Did they sell you a madison? They normally can throw in some basic stuff for free.

          We had like a huge range of mattresses like 70 or so. So we stocked heaps but often on popular ones we would run out, or there would be an uncommon one we needed to order. It never took us more then 2 weeks on most mattresses. It only took more on the odd handmade luxury ones.

  • what do you think of products that places like beds for backs sell where the springs vary depending on location?

    • Not sure,
      I checked their website to try to give you an answer but it didn't give much tangible information just lots of spin.
      Pretty much all major mattress manafacturers have zoned springs that vary in firmness depending on location.

  • Should I negotiate or wait until a product comes on sale?

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