One of the most interesting things about mattress retail is the people who take it up. Many times, it’s someone who started out in a different profession and took the leap, like Tim Odland, owner of the two-store retailer The Mattress Store in Port Orchard, Washington.
Living in Maui and working in Lahaina, Hawaii, in the 1990s, Odland sold jewelry until a unique problem befell the state when 9/11 happened. Suddenly, no one was flying and tourism numbers dropped by 50%-60%, which meant Odland’s business was in trouble.
Moving back to the mainland, he started working for a mattress retailer and quickly became interested in the business. With his extensive business knowledge, he knew he could open a mattress shop of his own, and in 2019 opened the first location in Port Orchard.
While Covid didn’t help with getting his business set up, Odland says the store continued to improve every year, almost month over month. That hard work led to a second, larger location — which includes warehouse space in addition to a showroom — opening up in Bremerton, Washington, in 2021.
One of the things that he says has helped with his success is not racing to the bottom and trying to focus on the fact that sleep is important to a person’s overall health and wellness.
“I love that we’re spreading the word about how sleep affects everything,” he says. “It’s starting to become better known that sleep is just one of the key ingredients to better health and wellness and performance and everything. At the University of Washington, the athletes have places they can go and take naps.”
For that reason, he has invested in brands that he believes hit the right price point and offer the right sleep systems for his customers. These include BeautyRest, Serta, Englander, Sutherland, Bed Tech and Bedgear — a new addition Odland is excited to see results from.
However, he says marketing can be challenging, especially because of things changing so quickly with new technologies like AI. In addition, his location presents a challenge because they are across the water from the largest city in their vicinity, Seattle.
“TV commercials or radio commercials are not going to show over in Seattle, and part of our issue is that because we’re across the water and we did buy in Seattle, people from there don’t want to jump on a boat over to us when there are 30 stores right near them.”
Despite this, Odland looks on the bright side and takes advantage of the opportunities the location offers, like the crowds of people the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard near the store brings in.
“That causes a massive influx of people who are usually going to be here for a short period, so we have to provide things that are a little more middle end. But then there are beautiful homes on the water around us with a lot of people who can afford and enjoy the higher-end mattresses. There’s a mix that we cater to”
And like any savvy businessman, Odland knows that customer service is the golden ticket.
“We do whatever we can to make the customer happy,” he says, “And I’m not saying they’re always right, but we will do whatever we can to make things right if there’s an issue. But the important thing is to set your expectations correctly when it comes to customers. You want to plan for if an order could be behind so the customer doesn’t get upset. And if it comes in early, that’s all the better. I think we set expectations well.”
He adds that he would love to open another store, but right now he wants to focus on making the current two locations the best they can be before opening the next.
“With everything that happened with the roller-coaster ride that was Covid I think it’s probably best to maintain this for a couple more years,” he says. “We’ll likely look to expand in two to three years, but you never know, sometimes a place opens up and it’s just too hard to pass up!”