How Big Lots Earned a Loyal Customer for Life

We love our Big Lots Mattresses

I had a wonderful customer service experience this week – and a great teachable moment for my children — which I just have to share with you guys.

Frankie and I have been shopping for mattresses for our guest room. We haven’t had a dedicated guest room in years, and we are really excited to have one in this house — especially since we’re hoping that friends and family from Kansas City will come visit often!

Our budget is pretty limited, since we’ve already spent a ton on moving and getting things fixed around our new house. In fact, I told Frankie that I didn’t want to spend more than $300.

As it turns out, that’s not very much at all when it comes to mattresses! Especially since we were looking to buy two twin mattress sets. We went to several different chain stores in the area, and couldn’t find anything for less than $200 per mattress set — and honestly, those were pretty thin (read: uncomfortable) mattresses.  I was starting to feel really bummed about our choices and thinking that we might have to wait on buying something altogether until we could save up a bit more.

A friend suggested we look at Big Lots, so we headed over there on Sunday for their Labor Day sale*. They had two twin Serta mattress sets on sale: One for $109 ($99 for the mattress and $10 for the box spring) and one for $179 (again $169 for the mattress and $10 for the box sprint).

I couldn’t believe it – even with buying the frame ($38 each), we could come in at my target price if we bought the $109 mattress sets.

But then I sat on them. And laid on them.

Yeah. Those $109 mattresses were pretty thin. Not horrible, and for a child, they’d be fine, but I could definitely feel the springs when I moved around.

Even though it wasn’t in our budget, we tried out the more expensive set – and, predictably, it was much more comfortable. We’re not talking memory-foam-comfortable, but really nice — and certainly not the kind of bed that would make a guest think, “I never want to sleep here again!”

Frankie was lobbying hard for the $179 mattresses — “Think of it as an investment in hachnasat orchim,” he told me.

Even though the $179 set was less than anything else we’d seen, I still kept worrying about the money that we’d be over our budget — and mentally crossing things off our big “house list” that we wouldn’t be able to afford as a result.

In the end, though, I agreed with my husband – for just $135 more than we’d budgeted, it wasn’t worth it to get significantly lower quality mattresses, since this was a long-term purchase. (I did the whole “If we own these for 10 years, that’s just $13.50 per year amortized over the life of the mattresses” rationalization! Plus, I figured, we’d just delay getting an area rug. Or fixing the chandelier in our dining room. Or… )

While we were deliberating (and our kids were trying out every single piece of furniture in their show room), the store manager George was incredible. He never tried to up-sell us or pressure us into making a decision. Having shopped in half a dozen mattress stores already at this point, I really appreciate his lower-key approach. (What is it with mattress salesmen, anyway?!)

Once we made our decision, George brought the mattresses out to our car and loaded them in (we have a minivan, so we were able to get both mattresses and box springs in by taking out a row of seats).

Another employee came up to the cash register to help enter in the codes from the mattresses. My five year had lost all patience at this point and was bouncing off the walls. (Why must there always be candy in those check-out lines? Precisely for five years who have lost all patience!) When the cashier gave me the total it sounded low – I asked her to double check the codes, but honestly, I was more focused on my daughter not inhaling a Reese’s than what was happening with our bill.

When we got home, the total was still nagging at me, so I looked more closely at the receipt. Aha! They had charged us for the $109 mattresses, not the $179 ones we bought!

I told my husband what had happened — and that I was going to call the store. My boys overheard this, and one of them asked why I had to call if “it was their mistake. Just think of it as a bonus, ima.”

“I’d love to, but it’s not a bonus we earned. This is a big difference,” I explained. “We’re talking about over $100. Even though it wasn’t intentional on our part, not making it right would be like stealing.”

I called the store and asked to speak to George. I explained what had happened and he very graciously thanked me for my call and asked if I could come back in the next day to straighten out the receipt. “To show my gratitude for your honesty, I’ll give you 20% off everything you bought.”

Wow – I couldn’t believe it! Just for doing the right thing, I’d be saving almost the entire difference between the two sets! My sons had heard the whole conversation and were very impressed. “Looks like it pays to do the right thing, Ima!”

Of course I reminded them that even when it doesn’t “pay”, you should always do the right thing… but yeah, it was nice to have that lesson so immediately reinforced for them.

The next day when I went back to Big Lots, George was so kind — “Most people wouldn’t have called and even fewer would actually come back in,” he told me. “To show my appreciation, let’s just leave the receipt the way it is. I’m sure you’ve had expenses galore” – I nodded! – “so you just go and enjoy your mattresses! Just do me a favor, and shop here again.”

Well you’d better believe I shopped there that very day, picking up snack foods for my kids’ lunches! And I’ll definitely be back in the future.

What a nice man! What a relief to have been able to get two really comfortable mattresses for my $300 budget! And what a great opportunity to teach my kids about the importance of “doing the right thing”!

P.S. If there are any Clevelanders reading this, go check out the Big Lots on Chagrin Blvd. by the Giant Eagle. And tell George I sent you.

*I just checked online and it looks like their mattress sale is still going on. If you need a great deal on a mattress, go check it out.


  1. Great Story…. by the way – how is the quality of the mattress?
    Welcome to town
    A Clevelander

    • I tried them out last night (two kids ended up in our bed, so I was more than happy to retreat to the guest room). They were great!

  2. I LOVE this story! You must have had a tremendous zechus to gave it happen to you…and that your kids were witness to it! I have never really shopped at big lots…but I think I’ll have to start.
    Thank you for sharing it with us!

  3. Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing

  4. So glad you had a great experience. My Big Lots is not so nice – LOL! I had twin sheets I bought when my little one was going into a big girl bed. At the last minute my grandmother had a full bed available so we decided to use that one. Because we were on vacation I went to return the twin ones when I came back… 1 day past the 30 day return policy. They would not let me return or exchange them for the bigger ones. Needless to say I am still not happy as those unopened princess sheets still sit on my shelf waiting for a cute little girl to need them.

  5. Mara – there are many good people in the world. I’ve had the same experience and often the same results, sometimes when it was my mistake! On a shopping trip to Costco, I was mortified when I realized I forgot to put something on the belt at checkout. I could not go back in as there was no time, so I called the store as soon as I could. The manager said no one ever called for that reason and that I should not worry about it, I could keep the item even though I hadn’t paid. I couldn’t thank him enough.

    And about honesty it really is the best policy. Strange as this sounds, two of my boys,at separate times, found money on the floor at the same Costco (one found $100 and one found $20). Each time, we took the money to the manager who told the kids that if no one claimed it after two weeks, they could keep the money. My friends said it would never happen. Both times, we called after two weeks, both times no one had claimed the money and the manager gave it to my kids. Happily, whenever something is found, the kids do their best to find the rightful owner and appreciate when the owner is located.

  6. did the beds get a lot of use? do they still feel comfortable? looking to by beds for when my parents come to visit

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