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Pillow Talk

Yesterday Tuffy P told me, I washed your pillow and it exploded in the wash. Well, these things happen. She pointed out that our pillows were a wedding present so we’ve been enjoying them for 16 years. OK, I’ll pick up a new pillow in my travels.

During the last 16 years it turns out there have been some marketing developments in the pillow business. There used to be spongy ones and feathery ones, right? Now there are all kinds of swanky new materials, memory foam, temperature gel. I discovered this after stopping in to a major bed retailer this morning.

I walked into the store and it’s dead. There are half a dozen employees around including a couple of them who are pretending to work behind a terminal. A sales guy swoops out of nowhere.

Can I help you sir?

After 16 comfy years, my pillow exploded and I need to replace it.

I tell him sometimes I sleep on my back and sometimes I sleep on my side so I’m looking for just the right pillow to be comfy no matter what. He leads me over to the most expensive pillow in the store. He tells me all about the features and invites me to try it out. I intercepted and asked the price. Yikes.

I’m looking at spending about half that, and since I checked your website I know you should have a good selection in my price range.

He started showing me pillows. Imagine me there in my winter boots and parka and I’m laying down on there showroom beds trying out pillows. I must have been a sight for sore eyes. Then I tried out a particular pillow and I know right away. Yes, yes, yes, this is the pillow for me.

You’re in luck sir, we’re having a special promotion on this pillow. If you buy it, not only is it within your price range, we’ll throw in a second pillow exactly the same for free.

Great! Let’s do this thing.

Buddy scurries around for a while, then returns to tell me he only has one of these pillows in stock.

Why would you have a promotion on an item you don’t have? That’s bad business.

Here is what we can do. You buy the pillow and take the one I have in stock and you can come back in a week to pick up the other one.

I should say at this point that my retail patience is very low at the best of times and I had just run out of it. No I say. I don’t want to come back for another 16 years.

He leads me over to another pillow. This one half again more expensive than the one I liked. It has fancy-swanshy gel technology and feels very similar to the one I liked.

Buy this pillow and I’ll throw in the other one you were originally going to buy.

No, no, no. I just don’t go for upselling at the cash register. I think I’ll take a pass today and try again elsewhere when I get back from vacation.

I wished him a nice day, turned and headed for the door. I opened the door, stepped out. The door started closing behind me. I heard a different voice.

Sir, sir….wait

It’s the manager.

Sir, if you buy the pillow you were going to buy, I’ll throw in the more expensive one we showed you.

My first thought is that the mark-up on pillows must be astronomical. However, I was prepared to buy the first pillow and it seems pretty good to get another swankier one thrown in. OK.

Let’s do this thing.


  1. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Margins in the furniture business are spectacular. The issue is that furniture is not price elastic. If you need a new dining room set you are going to buy one. If you dont need one cutting the price in half isnt going to get you to buy what you dont need. So the stores sit with their prices cranked up to astronomical levels and play the waiting game. I think they are hurting a bit these days and it shouldnt take much effort to beat them down 25-30% just for sport. Or in your case just flat out get a nice deal.

  2. Ha ha ha I learned all my bedside manner from you! Loved this account. Keep on terrorizing the retail world…they are terrorizing us!

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