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Unstaffed Mattress Stores – Good or Bad?

A new mattress store concept, featuring no employees, is being tested in the Milwaukee area. Image credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A trial mattress store with no employees is being tested in the Milwaukee area. Image credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

There’s a new mattress store concept being tested in the Milwaukee area that’s getting a lot of publicity. The trial store features a typical mattress showroom with an untypical twist: no salespeople. In fact, no employees at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Just a showroom filled with mattresses – and security cameras that are monitored remotely.

Granted, at first blush this may sound like a dream come true if you’re the type of customer who dreads dealing with salespeople who give high-pressured sales pitches. Being left alone to try out different mattresses without having someone hovering over you certainly has its appeal. But what if you have a question?

Well, there’s a computer on site for information and online ordering, which almost makes the store a three-dimensional website. Not having been in one of the stores yet, I don’t know how many computers there are so I have no idea if you have to stand in line and wait your turn to find out what components are in the mattress, or how much it will cost to deliver to your neighborhood. What I do know is that an unmanned store leaves me a bit unnerved.

What if people start hanging out in the showroom? Unsupervised teenagers showing off or getting a little wild make me sort of nervous. As a woman, what if I was shopping by myself at night, completely alone in the store, and three men came in and started watching me? Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s concerned.

“Bad things happen in supervised areas – especially if there’s a bed there,” says Kevin Mullaney, president of the retail consulting firm The Grayson Company, as reported by Joe Pinsker of The Urethane Blog.

As a consumer, I think the ideal retail situation lies somewhere in the middle – being able to navigate the store by myself when I want to, but having a knowledgeable consultant nearby if I have questions or need help.

What do you think? Would you like shopping in a mattress store with no employees? Share your thoughts.

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