‘Retail Theater’ a Winning Idea for Mattress Retailers


Bedgear’s Eugene Alletto says compelling displays make in-store experiences special.

Eugene Alletto, chief executive officer of Bedgear, has some refreshing thoughts on the state of retail these days. And he brings his ideas to life with compelling presentations in his High Point and Las Vegas showrooms. 

My latest visit with Alletto at the High Point Market last fall did not disappoint. “Retail theater” was Bedgear’s theme at market, one that the Farmingdale, New York-based sleep accessories and mattress producer executed with striking displays. We’re talking about walls that talk, pillows that reach to the ceiling, and airflow displays that are a breath of fresh air. 

“Bedgear is always looking for ways to breathe new life into all our products, including our retail displays that are theatrical because they draw the attention of the in-store shopper,” Alletto says.

Yes, markets are about new products. But they are also about effective ways to display those products, a point that Bedgear makes with its strong showroom displays.

Alletto admits he’s a “big movie buff,” and he watches more than just what happens on the silver screen. He’s seen how movie theaters have reinvented themselves to counter competition from online and in-home screens. The theaters have upgraded their seats, switched to reserved seating, and brought in gourmet foods. Dinner and a movie can go hand in hand.

Just as theaters have upped their game to provide better customer experiences, mattress retailers need to make their stores must-visit destinations that can hold their own against online competition.

“Furniture and bedding stores think of themselves as specialty retailers,” Alletto observes. “But if they are not offering something special, they are not specialty retailers.”

As I walked through Bedgear’s High Point showroom in Plaza Suites, I admired the ways that Bedgear aims to put the “special” into furniture and mattress specialty stores.

The talking walls immediately caught my attention. “Let’s Talk Sheet” was the provocative message on one wall that featured displays of Bedgear’s sheets. “Hi, I’m Hybrid,” said the bold lettering on another wall, calling attention to a hybrid mattress that combines support layers and an independent suspension unit.

A third wall called out the various technologies in Bedgear’s mattress protectors, using bold colors to highlight the different lines.

In another part of the showroom, I found a pillow gallery that stretched out on both sides of a video screen, with slots for the pillows. And I saw a display that demonstrated that enough air could flow through Bedgear pillows to spin a pinwheel.

Too many retailers treat sleep accessories as afterthoughts, which is a big mistake. In a retail climate in which traffic is down, it’s imperative that retailers boost their tickets by adding sleep accessories to mattress sales. The accessories add comfort for consumers, which is always a good thing, and they can add fun, too.

Now that a new year is upon us, this is a great time for mattress retailers to make a fresh start by putting more theater into their stores. Thanks, Eugene, for sharing that message with me.