Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Does It Take To Become a Mattress Outlet? Apparently Not Much.

I live in a small town of roughly 10,000 people with much larger towns scattered around in almost every direction so it was with some surprise when I first noticed that a mattress outlet store had moved into the small storefront where a cake decorating business had been. I couldn't imagine them being able to fit more than 6 or 8 mattresses in the place at any given time so thus couldn't fathom how it could be an outlet. But in my quest to locate a mattress for Little Abbey, I stopped in over my lunch hour the other day.

On the door there were no hours posted and no sign saying they were open. Just a hand lettered sign on the window saying Midwest Mattress Outlet and a phone number that wasn't local to our area. I tried the door and it opened so I walked inside. Inside there was a small room with three mattress sets set up on those cheap metal bed frames with no headboards or footboards. There was absolutely nothing else either. No desk, no rack of brochures, no telephone, no signs saying restroom this way and no people. Only an empty room with three mattresses and a doorway leading into another room. I headed through the door.

The second room was a similar story. There were three more mattresses set up with no desk, no rack of brochures, no telephone, and no signs but in this case, there were two guys, sleeping on two of the beds. I suddenly felt like Goldilocks in the story of the Three Bears. I cleared my throat and one of the men opened his eyes and asked if he could help me. I told him what I was interested in and in the span of about five seconds, he said, "We have this one or that one." I inquired into the prices and availability and he said that he would sell me the better mattress that was a show model for the same price as the cheaper one. Not really knowing how to respond, I stalled for time by asking him what brand name they were to which he vaguely replied that they were an Iowa manufacturer. Not knowing where to go with this conversation, I said I wanted to check out the furniture store off the square and then I would be back. I walked out only five minutes after I walked in.

I did go check the furniture store and they didn't have any mattresses in stock nor were they even close to being reasonably priced so I went back to work. Despite my tingling spidey senses, I decided to go back to the Mattress Outlet store after work because I thought I could probably wheel and deal a little bit. I tried looking up Iowa mattress manufacturers beforehand so that I could get some pricing information to bargain with but had no luck in Googling any. So after work, I pulled up in front of the store not knowing anything more than I had obtained in my first trip.

Again, I walked through an empty front room except for the mattresses into the second room. In the second room, it was devoid of all human life and one of the mattresses I had looked at over lunch was now leaning against the wall and the sign was removed. I continued into a third room which consisted of a box of telephone books, a beat up tubular and Formica office desk that looked as if someone had picked it off the curb, and on the desk was a running laptop, an old metal receipt machine with hand crank, a money bag, a few receipts and a pen. The only other accessory was a phone hanging on the back wall. I loudly asked if anyone was there and got no response. There was another door so I opened it up and walked into the final room that was empty except for three more mattress sets leaning against the walls. This must be the outlet storage part I smirked.

Back inside, I wandered around and started looking for labels on the mattresses for where they were manufactured but couldn't find anything. The only thing I could find was the model number taped to the walls above some of the other beds and a cloth banner draped over a couple that said Stylution. I went back to the office for a pen and tore a corner off the box of telephone books and jotted down the name Stylution and a few of the model numbers. I also jotted down the number painted on the window outside and went into the back room to call it on the wall phone. No dial tone. Fifteen minutes had now gone by and I decided to leave and go home.

Back home I tried Googling Stylution up with Iowa but got no results. After trying just Stylution, I was rewarded by a page in Chinese. After clicking the translate page link, I found out that Stylution is the largest mattress manufacturer in China and even found a Youtube video. I decided that since I didn't get the hint the first visit, this second visit and uncovering the lie about where the mattresses came from would be the only other hit I need. I won't be going back. The only thing I wonder is where the guy stole the mattresses to begin with?I

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