Annapolis, Maryland-based retailer stresses a no-pressure sales environment with an all-female sales team
Located just up the road from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Mattress Store has launched its own proud traditions of service and education.
Like the Naval Academy, Mattress Store is on a mission, one of vital importance to its customers.
“We have made it our personal mission to make mattress shopping a wonderful experience,” says Margaret Wright, the owner of Mattress Store.
That sounds like a challenging goal, to hear some online mattress retailers tell it. They portray the brick-and-mortar mattress shopping experience as fraught with discomfort and disrespect, with aggressive sales associates hovering over intimidated shoppers, pushing them to buy pricey models.
But Wright and her all-female sales team promise smooth sailing when their customers visit one of the company’s two stores in Maryland. (The other is in Stevensville, Maryland, on Kent Island, the largest island in the Chesapeake Bay, about 17 miles from Annapolis.)
“When you visit our showrooms, you will notice a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, making your shopping experience more like taking a nap at your best friend’s house,” the retailer says on its website (MattressStoreMD.com). “Noise and distractions are kept to a minimum because it’s always naptime at the Mattress Store.”
The nap image is particularly apt for this retailer. Annapolis is known locally as Naptown. “Nap” is literally in the city’s name.
The retailer offers large, family-friendly showrooms, with plenty of room for customers to look around and to try out mattresses. Soft lighting, soothing music and a calm ambiance are designed to put customers at ease. And the veteran sales staff offers “professional and courteous assistance,” Wright says, with “absolutely no high-pressure sales tactics.” That’s the Mattress Store way, she notes, and it’s one that goes back to the earliest days of the business.
As Mattress Store celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, it continues to provide high-quality, personalized service with a low-stress shopping experience. Education is a key to success, Wright says.
The children who slipped in beds from Mattress Store back in the 1980s are now purchasing mattresses from the retailer for their children and their grandchildren, Wright says, proudly.
Mattress Store was founded by Bill and Margie Haig in 1982, and it “quickly became the ‘go to’ spot for mattress education, sleeping advice, and knowledgeable information,” Wright says. The Haigs cared about their customers and wanted them to have all the information they needed to buy the best mattresses for them.
Margie Haig was involved in all aspects of the business and was a familiar face — and voice — in the area. Her soprano was well known to audiences of Annapolis theater groups for more than 40 years, and she also sang with barbershop groups and chorales.
The sweet music Mattress Store was making with its customers didn’t stop with the deaths of the Haigs. Wright and her team keep the soundtrack vibrant with their own energy, enthusiasm and experience.
Wright’s mattress career started in Maryland in the early 1980s, when she joined a waterbed retailer. Waterbeds were booming in those days and Wright found herself making $45,000 a year — the equivalent of about $140,000 today — at the tender age of 20. She shakes her head in disbelief today as she recalls that sales bonanza.
The waterbed boom fizzled, but Wright had found a calling.
“I like to make people comfortable,” she says. “My contribution to world peace is helping you get a good night’s sleep, so you don’t wake up and yell at the wife and the dog.”
She joined Mattress Store in 2005 and bought the business in 2013.
Her team includes Mike Cook, “a true mattress expert and professional service,” who has been with the company for six years; Kim Pulley, a 17-year veteran who makes sure the sleep sets are delivered safely to customers’ homes; Diane Craig, who helps take care of older family members and shares her knowledge about the comfort and support that older sleepers need; and Rachel Jump, who is appreciated for “her comprehensive knowledge of sleep products, and for her kindness,” the company says on its website.
Like Wright, Craig and Jump were both experienced mattress salespeople when they joined Mattress Store. And those three give the retailer an all-female sales force, a rarity in the mattress industry.
Wright says her team makes women, key shoppers at most mattress stores, right at home.
“Women feel more comfortable lying down on a bed with one other person in the store if that other person is a woman,” Wright says.
Women also are more comfortable buying mattresses in-person than online, she says. That’s why Mattress Store doesn’t sell online.
The retailer’s website provides an overview of the company and its products, but it doesn’t offer any sleep products for sale through e-commerce. “We believe that if you want truly good comfort and support you must try the mattress before you make a purchase,” Wright says. “Your comfort and health are far too important to choose only using online options.”
She also stresses the importance of finding the perfect mattress the first time. That’s why Mattress Store encourages shoppers to slow down and relax, ask a lot of questions, and let the staff guide them to the best mattress for their needs.
The retailer carries “trusted name,” including Serta and Sleepwell brands made by AW Industries, based in Landover, Maryland. Working directly with a local manufacturer gives Mattress Store a competitive edge in the market. Shoppers appreciate the “Made in Maryland” cache those lines carry, Wright says.
A recent success has been a line of two-sided mattresses by Serta. “Customers complained because they couldn’t flip their mattresses,” Wright says. The two-sided line, which she says combines old school and new school technologies, immediately solved that problem.
Mattress Store also carries the new Serta Arctic line, which it promotes as offering “15 times better cooling power” than other Serta mattresses. “That line is doing well,” Wright says. “You lie down on it and it’s very cool. It’s far and above anything else for cooling features. Most women want to sleep cooler.”
The retailer also carries furniture by Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. and sleep accessories by Malouf.
Repeat business is important to Mattress Store, and many of those repeat customers have naval ties to the area. Naval Academy graduates and Navy veterans often want to retire in Annapolis and live close to the water, Wright notes. That can make for some nice sales tickets; Wright recalls a $17,000 sale to furnish one home.
She says that while Mattress Store sees “a lot of high-powered people,” it follows the same philosophy in serving them that it applies to everyone else. “We treat everyone like they are the most important person,” Wright says.