The Idiosyncrasies of Selling Mattresses
Updated: Jun 25, 2018
So it begins! The inaugural subject for the “Kinda My Town” project is Anthony, who works at the American Mattress store on Clybourn. I can’t take credit for finding Anthony- he’s my mom’s favorite mattress salesman in the greater Chicagoland area.
Anthony is a proud father of two, his “little guys,” as he calls them. His kids are two and seven years old. He’s got a bright smile and a very endearing Chicago accent, he’s a real joy to speak with. He’s got a great sense of humor, and a fantastic sense of self.
“Born and raised in Chicago,” Anthony’s been in and around the city for his whole life. He absolutely loves the city. “There’s always stuff to do,” he remarked. “Just a great city to be in.”
When I asked him if there was anything about Chicago that he could identify as unique or special, Anthony shared that he hasn’t traveled as much as he would have liked to. But he explained that the one thing he’s noticed about Chicago is that, in talking with “people that have lived all over as far as big cities go… everybody seems to say Chicago’s the best.”
As is apparent in his answers already, Anthony’s love for Chicago involves so much more than his personal feelings about his hometown. He seemed to love Chicago because it was a place that made other people happy, too. “I love the city. But a lot of people that do travel love Chicago, too. Which is kinda cool!”
Beyond Anthony’s communal love for the city, we got a chance to talk about the marquee subject I was looking to hear more on: selling mattresses. He got into the mattress business because of his father, who he now works with. “He worked here before I did, I’ve been here about seven years.”
Anthony chuckled when describing his experiences working day in and day out with his father. “It’s pretty fun… we have a really good working relationship.” He praised his dad for “[making] it easy.” When I asked him to elaborate on what he meant by easy, he smiled and said “it’s like working with your best friend.”
It seemed like the “working relationship” Anthony was able to foster with his father was a pleasant surprise. He didn’t plan to go into mattress sales. “I was young, so I just kinda started… it ended up being something I enjoyed.”
Anthony enjoys selling mattresses to Chicagoans because “you get a lot of downtime, but you also get to work with people.” As opposed to “working the phones” or being “out in public all day,” the business of mattress sales doesn’t “over-burden” salespeople with the pressure to “deal with people 24/7.” “It’s kinda nice… not too strenuous.”
Of course, I had to ask Anthony if selling mattresses felt weirdly intimate. Being in the business of selling an object that people sleep on every night, presumably for many years, is unique to say the least. He affirmed my suspicions and then laughed. “It’s something that you kind of grow accustomed to the longer you do this, though.”
Anthony admitted that when he first started working at American Mattress, the whole thing was a little bit “nerve-wracking.” But, he utilizes that emotional knowledge to better connect to customers. “I’m assuming it’s very nerve-wracking for customers, too, because how often do you really buy a mattress? It’s big!” To calm nerves, Anthony tries to “make people feel like they’re never making a wrong decision.” “The name of the game,” Anthony explained, is to always “try to put people at ease.”
“A lot of salespeople have a bad reputation, and that’s a hurdle that we… have to overcome,” Anthony shared. His optimistic solution to overcome that hurdle is to always be truthful with customers. “As long as you’re honest with people and you actually try to help them, I think that shows through.”
After seeing Anthony interact with customers and speaking with him myself, I can certainly confirm his philosophy. His honesty is refreshing and entertaining! As for tricks of trade of being a good salesperson, he explained that “it’s not as complicated as you would think!” “If you want to be any good at it, hopefully you can be yourself.”
As an outro to my pleasant talk with Anthony, I further probed him on the social abnormalities of selling mattresses. As an answer to my inquiry about wacky happenings in the store, he said “we get asked about everything… anything you could think about being asked about for a mattress, we’ve probably been asked.”
With that, I can truly say my thirst to hear about nightmarish mattress sales interactions has very vaguely been quenched. Anthony was a wonderful first subject, his sunny personality and friendly demeanor allow him to share his optimism with whoever he’s talking to.