How to guarantee NO SALE!

If you're an Okie, then the picture above is probably synonimous with one thing immediately - ridiculously pushy salesmen! If you're not I am still certain you will know a furniture store just like this one where you live.

The first time we went furniture shopping, which was within a month of me immigrating, I soon found out why I will never buy anything from Mathis Brothers. As you walk through the doors the salesmen are hovering in groups ready to pounce. The first to reach you and hand you their card, then apparently takes temporary ownership of your person and wallet until you escape!

Despite the fact that you tell them you are "just browsing" and "will call" if you need help, they will then stalk your every step from a discreet but still annoyingly visible distance and will 'wander over' with an encouraging comment if you stop to look at anything for more than 20 seconds! And these are not small stores we are talking about, they are usually on 2 floors and about the size of 4 football fields. So being hunted around something that big, when they have no guarantee you'll even buy, is pretty desperate. I quite enjoy splitting up and trying to 'lose them' for a bit of sport ;-)

It really is quite unbelievable how pushy these 'commission only' salesmen are and for me it's one way to guarantee I won't buy, even if I really like something there (which is rare in that store!).

When I left the UK I had not experienced being stalked around a furniture store to quite this extent, but there were a few stores known for being a bit pushy there too. But it's a whole different ball game over here and extremely offputting for a Brit' who likes to be left alone to decide.

Being a blunt Brit' and finding it quite easy to be rude if necessary, I got to the point where as they locked on to us I would just tell them "If you stalk us I will not buy a thing in here, give me your card and if I find something I will ask for your help, now go away"....and it works! In other stores I would tell them "I hate Mathis Bros because of the stalking, so if you want me to buy anything you'd better leave me alone".....that also works as the other stores know how bad the reputation of MB is for doing this to customers.

In the end though we bought nearly all our furniture from smaller family owned stores, where there was minimal pressure and a good discount for buying a few things there.

I just find it hard to believe that they can't see themselves how offputting this is for the average customer. I mean personally a salesman's opinion is never going to make the difference as to whether I will buy a piece of furniture or not! That comes down to what I need and what I like, so all the sales chat in the world won't make something right if it's not.

Give me IKEA anyday of the week, at least there they leave you to it and you find a salesman when you're ready, and you don't end up feel like punching someone (risking arrest) or telling them to 'bog off' in no uncertain terms!

I know Americans are just as capable of making their own minds up as us Europeans? So why does everyone put up with this and not complain. Generally I find Americans much more polite than the Brit's, but sometimes Y'ALL are far too polite :-)


Teresa said...

First of all, thanks for the heads up about Mathis Brothers. I won't go there when I got to Oklahoma. We have store here that does that exact same,
"...takes temporary ownership of your person and wallet until you escape!" thing. I really dislike that. I want to be left alone to make my own decisions, and as you say all of the coercing will not make wrong, right.

Secondly, yep sometimes you can be too polite. I usually am assertive and when I feel the need to be agressive (which make no mistake about it, I can be just that and do it very quickly and effectively), I just leave and don't go back. I like the way you handled it though.

A Novelist said...

Oh yes, some salespersons have been so pushy towards me that I had walked right out of the store. It makes me feel highly uncomfortable!

I love your blog! :)

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Unfortunately, we have one of those here, a gigantic family-owned place that dominates in the furniture business. The salespeople are just as you described. We don't like going there for that reason, and because the place is so darn big. It's hard to figure out what you want in there, because there's so many choices. I just looked up their place online, and it's over 120,000 square feet. Too big. We prefer much smaller stores :)

Karla said...

Yep - we've had the same experience with MB. We now shop at Galleria Furniture across the highway. They are cheaper, friendlier, have less junk to search through, aren't as crowded, have good customer service and leave you alone until you're ready to deal with them. Plus, they have an awesome clearance area upstairs.

BritGal' Sarah said...

Teresa - try Galleria Furniture as Karla suggested, we like them too

A Novelist - the respect for blogs is entirely mutual :-) You have a new reader here

Stacey - MB's dominates here too, in fact they own alot of other stores with different names as well!

Karla - The Galleria is the one I told don't do an MB to me or I won't buy and they don't. We like them too, very accomodating and yes a fab discount area

Chellie said...

What a perfect itme for me to post! I felt this way at Mathis Brothers but was actually completely creeped out at Bob Mills. They called me so much after I left that I will never go back there! I ended up buying my mattress from Galleria!!!!!

pamokc said...


But we Okies do love our Mattress Brothers to a point (a radio station used to call them that) ... I can remember when it was their dad/uncle (the real Mathis Brothers) selling furniture on South Western and, believe it or not, they actually had their own Country/Western television variety show on a local tv channel. Now that truly is scary. Even scarier is that Jude 'N Jody was a spin-off of Mathis Brothers (store AND c/w tv show). But their store wasn't (and isn't) nearly as good.

But I digress. I heard a BRILLIANT trick on how to handle Mathis Brothers pushy sales-types from my relatives at the After-Easter dinner we had a few weeks ago. Get your OWN business card out of your pocket and carry it around so only the back (plain side) of it shows ... then tell the salesmen that you have already been helped and wave the card around!!!

I think their theme song used to be .... "get your fire blazin' prices at Mathis Brothers fur-ni-ture...."

Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this!

As far as good furniture stores, we have had great luck at Hoffman's in Moore. Try them sometime! (But of course, we haven't been there in ages so things might have changed!)

pamokc said...

Also, now that I have read the other responses I will add another one to the mix ... we didn't like Galleria much ourselves ... but do sometimes shop Factory Direct, which is there on Furniture Row around Reno and Portland. I think they are Mathis-related but a much more manageable store.