Mattress Store Visits: Why I’m Happy I Bought Online

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mattress storesI Visited Some Local Mattress Stores Today

I figured since I’m recommending you purchase a mattress online, it’s only right to offer you my experiences and thoughts of shopping for a mattress the traditional way: by going to the store, talking to the staff, and lying on the mattresses.

I think I got the hopes up of a few salesmen, who saw dollar signs when I started talking with them. Never mind, it was all in the sake of research for you guys. There was one thing that absolutely took me by surprise too; I’ll share it with you at the end of the article.

Please keep in mind while reading this that I live in New Zealand, and we might have a different sales culture here. We definitely have a different mattress selection, that was immediately clear, haha! Many aspects will be universal to buying a mattress anywhere though, so don’t click away yet!

What mattresses did I find in store?

Every single mattress I looked at was a hybrid. There was not a pure spring mattress, memory foam mattress, or latex mattress anywhere in sight! I was a bit surprised by that. I know hybrids are a fantastic choice for a wide range of sleepers (and make a good online “mattress in a box” OR instore purchase), but I was expecting to see more variety. For a king size, they ranged from $1000-$5000 NZD (which at the time of writing, February 2019, converts to about $680 – $3400 USD).

I have to say I found it pretty overwhelming: both stores had so many beds that looked equally comfortable, for similar prices. I don’t think I could have ever laid on all of them and known definitively that one of them was “the one” over any of the others. Or if it would even matter that much. Both stocked some locally made beds, which was really nice to see that they were made just ten minutes from where I was standing. I was surprised to see one of the stores carrying Serta, which you may or may not be aware is a big mattress brand in America.

Serta use New Zealand wool in their mattresses, and I was informed that some of the local mattress manufacturers therefore have a licence to produce Serta mattresses for the New Zealand market, purely for that reason. Apparently they don’t licence manufacturing out like this in other countries, so I found that really interesting (so said the salesman anyway, I’ll do some more research later). Watch this space for a Serta mattress review where I can bring you both online comments and a real life try out!

What was the in store experience like?

The salesmen

I hate to say it, but the two I encountered in the two different shops both came across like the cliche used car salesman. They seemed a bit desperate to make a sale: as soon as indicated I was interested in purchasing a king mattress for a master bedroom, they were ripping out their contact books and taking details. I hope I don’t dash any hopes by not returning to the stores any time soon to complete my purchases!

I was told in both stores to ignore all of the advertised prices, (one even called them “ridiculous”) and that they would do me a much better deal. I engaged them in that, and both returned with figures a couple of hundred dollars lower than the advertised prices. This just made me think the advertised prices were inflated, and the “deal” was the real price. This happens in all retail stores though, so we can’t hold that against them.

One of the salesmen seemed quite knowledgeable, and answered my questions about technical details without any worry. The other was full of puff and bluster, I don’t think I got a straight answer out of him the whole time I spoke to him.

Both wanted to talk to me while I was lying on some of the mattresses to try them out (they sat on one of the many other beds nearby, not the same bed as I was lying on). I found this particularly wierd and awkard when I was lying sideways for some reason! Maybe that’s just me feeling awkward but it would have been nicer to try them in peace. After all, is that not why you go to a mattress store? To try them out?

The mattresses

As I mentioned earlier, it was overwhelming to try out so many mattresses. After lying on about 3 or 4, the specifications and quilted cover patterns honestly started to blend together and I couldn’t really tell one from another.

innerspring next to pocket spring
Innersprings on the left, pocket springs on the right

I decided to focus on the different aspects of what hybrid mattresses contain, so I can give you full and honest opinions when I review them in other posts. I made sure to try mattresses that had innersprings as the support, and mattresses that had pocket springs for support. The innerspring mattresses felt a bit bouncier, and even though I was at the store alone I could tell that the individually wrapped pocket springs would reduce motion transfer and just generally felt nicer to lie on.

To be honest, all the mattresses containing memory foam as the comfort layer started to blur together. I am not a particularly hot sleeper, and you can’t test these in store overnight, so there was no way for me to tell if the gel memory foam would confer any advantage to me over another. Comfort wise they felt the same, but gel is better at heat transfer, which is important to a lot of people. The main difference in the mattresses that had memory foam as the comfort layer was in the plush covered top. Those with a more tightly sewn and thinner quilt cover definitely felt firmer than those with wide stitching and deeper quilting. Whether this is a difference that would hold true with time is unclear though. The plush covered mattresses felt quite nice to me: I think I like mattresses that feel medium-firm and a bit cozy so that might be different to how you would find them.

The mattresses that felt the most comfortable to me all had a layer of latex alongside the memory foam as the comfort layer. This offered a slight bounce but a nice feeling of support and comfort at the same time. I was assured by the salespeople at both shops that the latex used in the mattresses I was trying was natural.

What mattresses did I feel were worthy of purchasing?

These were the features of the mattresses I personally felt were the most comfortable, and if we hadn’t recently purchased a memory foam mattress online (click here for that story and unboxing)

  • pocket springs as the support rather than innersprings (for reduced motion transfer and just felt nicer to me)
  • memory foam and latex in the comfort layer (I really like the idea of natural latex as a material and also like the way it offers a bit of bounce but is very supportive)
  • a plush top with looser stitching in the quilting (this is because I like to feel a bit cozy in a bed, and these mattress cover features can help you feel a bit wrapped up in it without it being overly soft. This is 100% a personal preference)
  • a 10 year warranty: one store offered a flat 5 year warranty on all their mattresses, which I felt was a bit short. If you buy in store, make sure you ask and shop around.

I will endeavour to write some reviews of mattresses for you that contain exactly these features, I think they’re great.

Meanwhile, you can check out a review of an all latex mattress here and a memory foam hybrid mattress here.


So what are my final thoughts of trying a mattress in store vs buying online after my experiences of both?

  • I feel that if you buy in store, you can miss out on a whole world of other mattresses that could be great. Hybrids are just one mattress type, you might really enjoy a memory foam mattress, or a latex mattress. I’m here to help you if you find it overwhelming looking where to start, just get in contact with me.
  • I could not really tell one bed from another in the end, by lying on them. I could tell if they felt too hard, about right, or too soft. There were several that fit into each category and all the “about right” ones would have done. Buying a mattress online is actually easier in my opinion, as you can read the reviews of many people already using the mattress to get a a better idea of how it feels and its durability. You can also look more deeply into the technical information on each mattress without someone talking in your ear.
  • The in store prices were terrible. The advertised price was clearly a bluff. I suppose you could negotiate, but online will always be cheaper regardless, as there is no bricks and mortar store to upkeep or wages to pay out of the mattress profits.  Buying online will probably get you free delivery too, which was not offered at all the stores.

latex pillowWhat was the pleasant surprise I found?

I mentioned at the start of the article that I was surprised by something while doing this research…. and yes, I bought something today!

When I lay down on one of the mattresses to try it out, the first thing I noticed was how AMAZING the pillow on the demonstration bed felt. It was perfect! It was made of latex (can you tell I love latex yet)and had a high loft, which means it is a taller pillow. The pillow I was using up until today was also latex and very comfortable, but it was too thin and I was constantly folding it over to get a better height. I was not expecting to like a pillow so much, and had not gone in store with the intention of buying a pillow at all! But there you have it. I’m excited to go to bed tonight to try it out.

I’ll be writing a review of latex pillows and comparing them to memory foam and other pillows soon, so keep an eye on the reviews section of the site for that.

Do you have an experience of shopping for a mattress in store you’d be happy to share? Did you find more variety in your local stores than I did? Tell me all about it in the comments.



Emily Johnstone

Emily is the creator and owner of Emily's scientific background gives her an analytical, critical, and discerning eye to bring unbiased, thorough, and helpful content to the site. Your good sleep is her top priority. Find out more about Emily and here.