To Sell More Sheets, Look to Sheetz

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Fast-growing gas/coffee/food/convenience chain points way for mattress retailers to focus on sleep solutions.

To understand why mattress stores should carry sheets, let’s take a look at Sheetz.

For those of you not familiar with Sheetz, it is a fast-growing chain with stores in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Sheetz is winning these days with a mix of good gas prices, gourmet coffees, plenty of fresh food choices and an energetic vibe.

Sheetz forces shoppers to confront a basic question: What kind of store is it, exactly?

The company admits that’s not an easy question to answer. “Sheetz means many things to many people,” the company says on its website. “To some, it’s a place to get great food 24/7. To others, it’s a coffee shop in the morning. Some think of us as a gas station. Some consider us a convenience store. We like to think we’re there in any way a customer might need us.”

I think of Sheetz as both a restaurant and a gas station. I’ve had several tasty meals served up from the made-to-order menu. Touch-screen menus in the stores let me customize my food choices. I order my two-pack of Sliderz with lettuce, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup — and a side of Totz. (Sheetz, run by members of the Sheetz family, adds that final “z” to several food items in a fun touch.)

Now let’s talk about sheets.

According to consumer research conducted this year for the Better Sleep Council, sheets were the most-purchased sleep accessory in the past year. The survey found that 83% of the consumers who purchased a sleep accessory in the past year bought sheets for themselves or for someone in their household. Pillows were next on the list, purchased by 76% of consumers in the past year who bought an accessory.

And the survey found that consumers enjoyed shopping for sheets more than any other sleep accessory; 79% of consumers who bought an accessory in the past year said they enjoyed shopping for sheets “a little” or “a lot.”

That’s the good news about sheets. The bad news, the survey found, is that most consumers aren’t buying sheets at mattress stores. Instead, the consumers said they are buying sheets at big discount stores, department stores, and home merchandise stores. They are also buying sheets online.

This presents an opportunity for mattress retailers. Just as Sheetz sells much more than gas, mattress retailers should be selling much more than mattresses. Sleep accessories add comfort to sleep and are almost as vital as the mattress itself. No one, after all, sleeps on a naked mattress with no pillows.

And it’s imperative, in this challenging sales climate, for mattress retailers to build their sales tickets. Sleep accessories like sheets, pillows, mattress pads/protectors and toppers — the four categories addressed in the recent BSC consumer survey — are obvious places to start. Every mattress retailer should offer all those sleep accessories, and probably several more, too. Retailers could sell sleep masks, sleep supplements, aromatherapy sprays and books on better sleep, to name just some of the possibilities.

The key here is for you to think beyond the mattress. You are really selling sleep, not simply selling mattresses. Consumers who visit your stores are looking for sleep solutions. Sheets and pillows are obvious products to introduce during the sales process. And remember, sheets were the most-purchased sleep accessory in the past year, the BSC study found. Many consumers are looking for sheets.

It makes no sense to me that sleep retailers would tell those shoppers to look for sheets elsewhere. Sheetz doesn’t send hungry shoppers to a restaurant down the road. It goes after those hungry shoppers with as much energy as it devotes to selling gas.

Take a close look at the Sheetz sign in front of its stores. Guess what’s at the top of the sign? “Fresh food.” That’s a smart move for a retailer who wants to sell a lot more than gas.