There are many places to buy your new bed, and price is just one of many important factors in comparing them. Below are the key criteria one should consider when choosing a mattress store, as well as a list of buying tips you should review before heading out to the store.
There are literally thousands of places to buy beds nationwide. Some stores specialize only in beds (e.g., Mattress Firm, Sleepy's), some offer beds along with other kinds of bedroom furniture (e.g., Ashley Furniture, Havertys), and some are general retailers that also sell a wide variety of other products (e.g., Macy's, JCPenney). In general, mattress and furniture stores will offer the broadest selection of mattresses, furniture stores will offer the convenience of purchasing related items (e.g., a bunk bed) from the same place, and general retailers will offer a more limited selection focused on specific criteria (e.g., luxury or discount beds). However, within each category, there are many exceptions to these generalizations.
Look for a friendly, knowledgeable salesperson that can help guide you through the numerous choices. In general, mattress salespeople have gotten a bit better about limiting the overly aggressive sales tactics for which they were once known. However, if you find one who "missed the memo" on this, we suggest you take your business elsewhere. Also, no matter how helpful they are, be careful about assuming too much objectivity in a salesperson's words — salespeople do work on commission, and manufacturers often provide them with additional incentive fees (known as SPIF's) to sell certain models.
As anyone can attest who has driven with a mattress tied to the roof of a car, mattress delivery is a valuable service. Mattress retailers will sometimes offer free delivery of your new bed, but other retailers charge upwards of $100, particularly if the mattress is coming from outside your local area. If your schedule is constrained, it may be worth asking whether they deliver 7 days a week, and whether they can guarantee a specific delivery time.
Some stores also provide complete in-home set-up of your new bed and frame. Naturally, this can be especially valuable if you are purchasing a more complicated bedding product like an air bed, water bed, or adjustable bed. Local retailers often offer this service with delivery at no extra charge, while online retailers frequently charge extra for this, or don't offer it at all.
Similarly, removal of your old bed is another key service to consider, especially now that some local landfills have begun to charge fees to residents for mattress disposal. Some stores will do this for no additional charge, while others charge a nominal fee (typically $40 or less).
Warranties are typically provided by mattress manufacturers and are designed to protect consumers against defects in materials or manufacturing. Mattress stores generally do not offer additional warranties, however they will typically help their customers coordinate with the manufacturer in the event a problem arises that is covered by the warranty.
If you’re buying your mattress from an online retailer, make sure you know how they handle mattress warranty claims. You’ll want to know how you’d proceed if something were to go wrong.
Look for stores that will give you the opportunity to return the bed if you are not satisfied after sleeping on it at home for a period of time (sometimes referred to as a "Comfort Guarantee"). The best return policies offer a period of 30-60 days, but even 2 weeks should generally be sufficient. That said, some stores actually require that you sleep on the bed for a minimum amount of time (eg, 30 days) before they will accept a return. Be aware that many stores will charge a restocking fee for returns, which covers their costs of delivering the bed, picking it up, re-covering it, etc. Ask to see the return policy in writing to make sure you understand it in detail.
Also keep in mind that the process of returning a mattress and buying another one will involve more than a little inconvenience for you. As such, we caution you not to rely too much on the return policy, and to take whatever steps you can to ensure you choose the right mattress the first time.
If you would like to defer payment on your new bed, many stores do offer financing options. Naturally, this adds a step to the process, so if your mattress purchase is urgent, it may be worth calling the store or checking their website in advance to find out specific policies and procedures for that store's credit program.
Believe it or not, mattress technology has advanced quite a bit in recent years. While you've been enjoying your last mattress purchase, manufacturers have been busy changing, improving, and expanding their mattress lines in countless ways. To familiarize yourself with the many new options that are now available to you, we suggest you choose a store (or multiple stores) that can expose you to a broad variety of mattress styles and models at one time.
There are dozens of reputable mattress manufacturers, many of whom have been making high-quality beds for decades. Most mattress stores carry products from one or more such well-known manufacturers.
Needless to say, it is preferable to find a retailer with a location and store hours that are convenient for you. Mattress stores are frequently open 7 days per week.
Last but not least, be sure to find a store that is willing to give you a good price on the bed you want. In general, the mattress industry is very competitive, so most stores will be prepared to offer you a fair price in order to win your business. That said, be aware that mattress retailers make it very hard to compare their prices with those of other retailers. They achieve this in several ways. One is through the practice of negotiated price discounts (aka, haggling), which makes it difficult to ascertain the "real" price without first visiting the store and negotiating with the salesperson. Another way is by using different mattress names and fabric coverings for what may otherwise be the same bed sold at another retailer. Though some stores will offer to decode this for you by telling you which mattress they carry is "comparable" to the one you found at another store, be sure to verify these comparisons yourself, as they are not verified by the manufacturer and thus can not be relied upon blindly.