questionsfirst time mattress shopping... any pointers…

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If you look at the b&m route, my best advice is that you aren't negotiating hard enough with a salesman unless they have to call their boss to clear the supposedly outrageous deal they are trying to give you. Sticker prices are the starting point...

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The one thing I do know for sure, mattresses with a lifetime guarantee are good for only about 10 years which is what the lifetime usually is! There are many articles and questions here and comments regarding sleep number, tempurpedic and the like. Also, various consumer agencies are good for a lot of information. You need to try several out - meaning go to a store and really lie down and even take a nap! You really need to get the feel for them. It is hard to comparison shop also, because manufacturers change the coverings and names and thus, the pale beige "slumber whatever" in store XYZ can and will have a different name and covering. Exact same mattreee, but tough to compare unless you know what you are looking for/at. Sorry to be vague, but I am not happy with the last two I purchased in the past ten years, and I paid a lot for them.

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I agree with laying on them to get a feel for what kind you may like.
The place I ended up buying from did an excellent job asking questions concerning our sleep habits and many other questions, then allowed us to see them put together the one we wanted with the features we needed. This was 12 yrs ago and the mattress still feels good. Here is the link: http://www.originalmattress.com/

I hope you find the right one for you

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indeed i appreciate the feedback!
Yea I've heard to really make sure to get a good salesman that knows what he's talking about, just about with anything BUT this is obviously more important than just anything.

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stay away from the one with the nails sticking up

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Try out every matress. Lay on it. Roll around on it. Kneel on it. Everything you might do in the 10 years you are going to own it.

Why?...

Laying and rolling around on it is obvious. While you aren't going to kneel on a bed all the time, there are times you will (like cleaning the ceiling fan and dusting the middle of the headboard). If the depression of your knees stays for awhile, that would be uncomfortable... When I had small kids, I always took them shopping with me and let them play on it for a bit. This tells you more about furniture than most salesman want you to know. If it can hold up to my kids with no sign of wear in 15-30 min., it is well made.

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Just went through this myself. Went to every mattress store in the area, then brought the mister in with me and we did roll around on a ton of mattresses. It's good if you have some type of idea what you want before you go in as far as softness level goes.
And the difference between just a mattress and a mattress and box spring set seemed to be about $100. Even on the king size.