Where Are Today's Mattress-Sales Visionaries?

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Vol 40 Issue 51

Son Loved More Than Football, Less Than Playoff Football

ALLENTOWN, PA—Diehard Eagles fan Bill Ferris said Monday that he loves his 12-year-old son Rex more than football, excepting the thrilling playoff games, of course. "When I tell you I love my son more than football, you better believe I'm saying something important," said Ferris, a 38-year-old accountant. "I wouldn't think of missing Rex playing a shepherd in the church nativity scene this Sunday. That's because the Eagles clinched the NFC East, and probably home-field advantage, too." Ferris said he has yet to form a plan for next month, when a playoff game overlaps with his son's band concert.

Actor Receives $25 Million For Everyman Role

HOLLYWOOD—Tom Hanks will reunite with director Steven Spielberg in Dreamworks' Payne's Pride, in which he will play the part of everyman John Hamilton Payne and receive $25 million for his efforts. "Tom is a man of the people," Spielberg said. "America loves him because he seems so approachable, and that's exactly what I told him last weekend over some Merlot from his vineyards." Spielberg added that Hanks is always a joy to work with because "he can really nail 'down to earth.'"

Secretary Cracks Under Administration Of Third Raspberry Margarita

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL—Wintrust Financial secretary Kerry Jorgenson finally succumbed to coworker Charlotte Franze's interrogation after the administration of a third raspberry margarita at Champ's Dugout Monday. "No, Helen wasn't really sick last week—she and her husband are in counseling," a tipsy Jorgenson told Franze after slurping up the last few drops of her Razzmatazz. "And Jeffrey in tech support? Queer as a $3 bill. He and his 'roommate' are taking a trip to Florence together." Coworkers announced plans to re-administer margaritas at some point in the future, to coax Jorgenson into confirming their suspicions that their supervisor Jack Doogan gets Botox injections.

Recently Mugged Friend A Racist All Of A Sudden

CHICAGO—Ever since being mugged by a black man, 28-year-old Caucasian Mark Weisner has become a racist, friends reported Monday. "I used to be more trusting, but I learned my lesson the hard way in October," Weisner said, alluding to the mugging. "Now I'm a lot more cautious around certain types, if you know what I mean." Weisner added that he has "no problem with Asian Americans."

Recalled Holiday Toys

The U.S Consumer Product Safety Comission recently released its annual list of recalled toys. Which items should parents avoid buying?

Jury: Peterson Deserves Death

Last week, jurors recommended that Scott Peterson be sentenced to death for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci. What do you think?

Privacy Advocates Refuse To Release New Report

WASHINGTON, DC—Privacy-rights advocates from the American Privacy Rights Center refused to release a heavily researched report on the new Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 Monday.
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Where Are Today's Mattress-Sales Visionaries?

After many nights spent tossing and turning, I broke down and bought a new mattress. Is it just me—pardon the pun—or has bedding sales lost its spring? Seriously, though, where have all the mattress-sales visionaries gone?

Time was, mattress salesmen were touched by the holy fire. Loony Lenny the Mattress Czar, Crazy Mattress Benny, Wacky Willy the Spring King: These were the top men in the sleep game, and they neared the ineffable. Mad Dog Mike would get so deranged before a year-end closeout, he'd foam at the mouth. Back then, shoppers knew the mental shortcomings of the man on top meant big, big savings on Sealy, Simmons, Serta, and Stearns & Foster.

Just try to get a modern mattress salesman to scream at you. With these guys, it's all courtesy, predictable prices, and an organized showroom. Where's the pizzazz? Where's the push? Their idea of the hard sell is following you around the store or handing you a pamphlet. The whole time I was shopping, I didn't have one salesman threaten to set himself on fire if I didn't buy a mattress from him in the next five seconds. Sure, in the '80s, you walked out of the store with a queen-size mattress when you wanted a twin, but you knew you had been in the presence of an artist. Not one of these jokers has the guts to make a crown out of bedsprings and dub himself the King of the Snooze.

The old timers were masters of the two M's: mattresses and the media. Commercials today focus on things like "wide selection" and "same-day delivery in many areas." Oh, how very responsible. Pardon me while I sip my latte and peruse the newspaper. Man, pros like Loony Lenny would stand in front of a blue screen and make you truly believe they'd be mauled by giant apes if they didn't sell every mattress in the store. When they got into a lab coat and commanded Pricezilla to crush that high mark-up, Pricezilla did as he was told.

Mattress sellers today may pay lip service to big holidays like President's Day, but what do they actually do? Give me Psycho Rick the Bedding Guru's Twelve Days of Mattress. Give me Institutionalized Wally's Box-Spring Rebellion Sale-A-Bration. Those guys didn't need the post office to close to put on the Uncle Sam suit. They did it for the thrill.

Remember Voice-Hearing Harry? The prices at his Mattress Barn were so low, it's a miracle he wasn't locked up. Now, that was a mattress store. So what if the mattress frames were recycled? You got what you paid for: an amazing experience. Sure, it wasn't pleasant when you got hit with a rubber chicken or pushed into a kiddy pool, but the brass band and the helium balloons made up for it.

Listen to me! Am I foolish to think there's still room for showmanship? Am I a throwback to a bygone era of a psychotic parachuting into a MattressLand parking lot wearing nothing but a wooden barrel and a smile? When people can just go online and buy a mattress with one click, why would they drive in heavy traffic to do business with a man in googly eyeglasses?

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I believe mattress salespeople should make giant spectacles of themselves on local TV, and when someone buys a king-size Serta mattress from them, they should toss in a box of steaks as a bonus. Unless a new generation comes in to fill the shoes of their forefathers, the art of mattress-selling is dead.

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