They offer personal service, first-hand knowledge and increased value, buyers say.
Even though her old mattress didn’t provide a comfortable night’s sleep, Angie’s List member Debra Walker of Downers Grove, Ill., dreaded buying a mattress and didn’t step into a store until she found a local mattress company that made, sold and delivered its own beds.
“I’ve never been happy with mattress stores because I always felt I was being shifted to higher-priced mattresses, whether I needed them or not,” she says.
Then she discovered highly rated Quality Sleep Shop, which has locations in La Grange and Brookfield, Ill., and purchased two twin mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards for about $1,700.
“He let me try any mattress I wanted to while he discussed the material components,” she says of the owner. “He even coordinated the delivery the day before my garbage day.”
With mattress stores abundant, customers may want to search for local manufacturers who make their own beds. Members say hometown stores can provide excellent customer service because they understand how their products are put together. They often also offer small showrooms with fewer customers, and some even give factory tours so customers can see exactly how companies construct the mattresses.
Be Wary of Mattress Sale Prices
No matter where they shop, experts warn customers that mattress companies are notorious for offering sales to lure in customers.
“There’s no such thing as a mattress sale,” says Tim Masters, owner of Quality Sleep Shop. “They always come down to the same bottom line. They are advertising 60 percent off, but they mark it up to get to the same bottom line. It’s tough as a consumer — you get caught up in the numbers.”
Masters says smaller companies like his can control the quality of mattress materials they put out on their sales floor. “We have to outdo the major brands, and the only thing we can control is the quality of the padding.” Masters says his company sells a $699 mattress that’s a higher quality than most name-brand competitors.
Rick Carter, owner of highly rated Fox Mattress in Holly Hill, Fla., suggests ignoring sales pitches or ads at any store, local or national, and simply compare what you can buy on your allotted budget.
Know the Best Time to Buy a Mattress
Mattresses can be an expensive purchase, and knowing when to raid the piggy bank for a new one can prove tricky for shoppers. Advertising scares of dust mites adding weight to beds or ambiguous lifetimes, such as every eight to 10 years, are meant to get shoppers in the door, highly rated mattress retailers say.
Most suggest evaluating your mattress every decade, but you don’t necessarily need a new one if you’re still getting support and comfort. Waking up achy or tired or not sleeping well are key signs your mattress is past its prime.
“Think back to the last time you had a great night’s sleep,” says Mary Helen Uusimaki, spokeswoman for the International Sleep Products Association, an organization that supports the mattress industry. “Was it a firm bed, a soft bed? The sales associate should try to match you with a product that fits you. Buy the best mattress you can afford.”
CHECK OUT: 6 tips for buying the best mattress
Focus on Mattress Material
Instead of choosing what’s popular or what friends recommend, focus on the mattress components. Highly rated providers say all stores carry low- to high-end mattresses, but it’s the guts that determine how long a mattress will retain the support you feel when testing it in the store.
Carter says customers should ask about the density of materials, such as high-density foam versus fillers. Ask to see a cutout example of what makes up the mattress you’re considering. The more low-quality fillers that mattresses contain, such as clay, the faster they will degrade, he says.
“The most important part of the mattress is the cushioning, and it should be 14- to 15-inches thick,” Carter says.
Consumers should be vigilant, because no governing body oversees mattress content except the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets flammability standards. The Federal Trade Commission monitors companies making false claims about their products, such as eco-friendly components.
Consider the Flexibility of Local Manufacturers
Some local mattress manufacturers will add padding or take away support if a customer purchases a mattress and it’s not as comfortable as they’d like after getting it home. They can also build beds such as a two-sided flippable mattresses that have waned in availability with increased production costs.
Member David Llewellyn of Naples combined mattress shopping with a mini-getaway when he drove four hours to Fox Mattress near Daytona Beach. He paid $2,500 for a new mattress after personalized help and a factory tour. He paid $250 for delivery.
INFOGRAPHIC: Answer these questions before buying a new mattress
“We originally had thought about getting a latex foam mattress, but after the presentation by salesman Mic [Smith] and trying out the mattresses, we decided to get a more traditional two-sided mattress, which cost significantly less,” he says.
“We got a mattress of build and quality that’s simply not available anywhere else, for a price that was less than we would’ve paid for a similar quality name-brand mattress. Plus, it was a fun field trip and most interesting to see how they are made.”
Buy a Mattress That Fits You
Fox’s Carter says no mattress fits every body type. And while mattresses in every store range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, highly rated providers agree that the bed you should buy is the one that feels best to you.
“How a mattress feels on the sales floor is not necessarily how it’ll feel in six months to a year,” Carter says. “Hopefully the salesman can tell [customers] how it will change.” For example, pillow-top mattresses are designed to sink where owners sleep, Carter says.
The ultimate goal of any company, but especially local businesses, is to keep customers returning and encourage referrals. Carter knows he’ll see his customers on the street in daily life. “I can’t dodge you,” he says. “I want you to say, ‘Hi, Rick. I love my mattress.’”
Members Dick and Sally Smith of Daytona Beach represent the perfect type of customer who keeps coming back. They’ve shopped at Fox for 15 years.
“We own a king, twin and adjustable [mattresses] and are planning on replacing our RV mattress in the near future,” she says. “The excellent customer service, and experienced and knowledgeable staff are the reasons we keep returning.”
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Dec. 18, 2013.