“Retail Reflections #1”


In the United States right now the retail scene is in turmoil with malls closing and much shopping being done on-line. I thought I would spend a few posts reflecting on my experiences with retail over the last 68 years. I figure that in the first three years of my life I was pretty oblivious about where my food, clothing and other life necessities originated. I only started paying attention when I started nursery school at age 3. At that point Harlow Lennon made a nickel appear from behind my ear and asked how I would spend it. My life as a consumer had begun.

When we moved to Connecticut in 2001 we needed a new mattress. We had been inundated with newspaper and radio ads for a chain called “Sleepys.” “Trust Sleepys for the rest of your life.” Cleverly unforgettable, the slogan lured us to the nearest outlet, one of many. We picked out a set, had it delivered and went to sleep.  But a few years ago, Mattress Firm bought out Sleepys, changing the signs on all the stores to Mattress Firm. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to tell them that while they may have meant the name to signal that they were a firm that sold mattresses, what stuck in one’s mind was the word “firm.” Firm does not sound nearly as inviting as sleepy. Their business tanked and they have entered bankruptcy.

But taking no responsibility for the name change, they blame on-line mattress sales for their financial woes. They add, in contrast to their first culprit, that “people aren’t going to buy a mattress any more; they want an experience.” Now it is hard to imagine what kind of G-rated experience they are suggesting would invite a buyer into their store.  But it was the last comment that intrigued me, and I will spend the next few posts thinking about the experiences I have had in retail over the years. I hope that those readers my age will remember and that younger readers will be mystified about how much things have changed and how much has remained the same.


14 thoughts on ““Retail Reflections #1”

  1. I am one of those awful millennials putting brick and mortar companies out of business. I do most of my shopping (minus groceries) online and my own business takes place almost entirely online.

    I think a lot of brick and mortar businesses banked too much on a physical presence and underrated the power of convenience (especially for people like me who didn’t have a car! 😄)


    1. My thoughts on all of that are in future posts. They absolutely failed to see the connection between where they built and convenience. See my post today for how easy it was to buy things quickly when I was little.


  2. Online marketing seems to be the norm lately. But then again, one needs a good ‘advertising’ to entice buyers. Firm is not good enough.


  3. I’m not much of an online shopper and still prefer the brick and mortar experience. Your post brings back memories of shopping downtown for school clothes and later experiences at Northgate, America’s first shopping mall.


  4. You could do a whole series of posts just about the mattress shopping experience. Mine was one of the worst in my life, and it led me to doing a lot of additional research.


  5. I’m glad some things have changed. Today’s big-box and online alternatives keep me out of furniture, appliance or mattress stores where people often work on commission. I still get annoyed when I walk in and a struggling salesperson spots me from across the building, locking in on me like a falcon on a sparrow! Once they’ve got you, it’s usually hard to shake them off. My appearances in these places happen less and less nowadays.


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