This is a follow up story for US-Mattress. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I operate a mattress retailer called US-Mattress, based in Michigan. We started as an online retailer in 2001, and over the years we slowly added some retail stores. The mattress brands we offer are the major national names like Serta, Beautyrest, Sealy, Stearns & Foster, and Tempurpedic. We carry smaller brands like Tuft & Needle, and Ashley as well as high-end European brands like ViSpring and Hastens.
We market our products to all customers because we offer mattresses at all price points. Customers choose our stores or website for many reasons; low prices, great helpful information on our website, or real, helpful expert assistance. For example, we rate every mattress on a firmness scale of 1 to 10 to help people narrow down the bed that’s right for them.
Our business continues to generate over $2 million in sales every month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
In the past couple of years, we initiated a major pivot in our focus to brick-and-mortar stores and opened 25 mattress stores in metro Detroit. We decided to make this shift because we felt there was more opportunity for growth in stores rather than online. Most online DTC mattress brands moved into retail stores in recent years. The majority of consumers still want to touch and feel a mattress before buying it, so the online market is limited to about 25%.
We were able to incorporate our online business model into our stores and create a different and unique experience in our stores vs other retailers. For example, we rate every mattress on our website from 1 to 10 based on comfort. In our stores, we display a representative bed for each rating so the customer can quickly determine what Comfort Scale number they prefer. Then that quickly narrows down the selection process to other factors like price and features. The consumer can choose between what we have in our stores and what we offer on our website using large monitors in our stores.
This has been important to our business because it helped our overall business grow while our online sales softened. In combination, our monthly revenues continue to be well above $2 million.
We also opened a specialty mattress store called Hastens of Birmingham. This store features the global brand Hastens, which is the leading high-end mattress company in the world. These beds range from about $7,000 to $500,000+. The most popular beds are $60,000. This is a very distinct niche market that is growing and we hope to enjoy long-term success with Hastens.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Post-pandemic consumer shifts have taken people’s interests away from purchasing home goods and back to services. This is impacted our online business as well as our stores, but the online pullback has been more significant. Also, recent inflation and stock market declines have dampened consumer confidence and further impacted sales.
It is hard to go backward but sometimes it is unavoidable.
This has forced us to cut back our expenses to keep our costs in line with sales. It is hard to go backward but sometimes it is unavoidable.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Business in home goods boomed during the Covid lockdown since people were spending so much time at home. We knew this would not last, but we did not plan for the pullback. So now we’re reacting to the pullback rather than being ahead of things. It would have been smarter to be proactive and manage things more diligently at the time.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our immediate plan is to adjust our business to the recent pullback. And the longer term we look forward to growing our retail stores which have proven to be successful. We’ve established a strong foothold in our local metro Detroit market, which we did very quickly. We’re excited by what we’ve accomplished in the past few years in retail and we’re confident in the future growth.
With our robust national website, we also have the opportunity to expand into other markets by leveraging our web presence.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I like to keep up with industry and business news, so I read industry trade publications and the Wall Street Journal for general business news. It helps me understand what is going on in my industry and the general business climate as well. I find this useful because it gives me perspective on how to assess our business (are we trending like other businesses, or are we demonstrating something different).
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
It never ends…. The rollercoaster of business ups and downs never ends. The things that cause the ups and downs change, but the ups and downs continue. So enjoy the highs and expect the lows to follow. Then persevere and react as necessary when the lows come because those will be followed by business upturns eventually.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
With our focus on retail stores, we’re looking to add people to our sales team. We look for people who have good people skills, like helping others and bringing positive energy to our organization.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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