- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
May 23, 2019
A growing mattress store that offers brand-name products at discount prices has moved into a more visible retail space at 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue.
Dan Darkow and Gaylene Stocco started Dreamers Outlet three years ago at 51st Street and Grange Avenue. Since then, they’ve expanded in that building, leased a warehouse on the north side of the city and bought a 53-foot semi-trailer to store merchandise on site.
Now in their new home in Plaza 41 next to Tuesday Morning, they have more than doubled their space, eliminating the need for the warehouse and trailer.
“When you walk into the door, you’re going to be treated like family. You’re going to hear bad jokes and get some ribbing,” Stocco said, rolling her eyes at Darkow.
Before starting Dreamers Outlet, they managed stores for other retailers and said they are happy to be free of limitations on how they work with customers.
“We don’t ask for the sale,” Darkow said. “We give people space to decide what they like.”
After customers take 10-minute test runs lying on different mattresses, they’ll offer advice on making a decision: “Don’t’ focus on a price, focus on the comfort. If you don’t feel the difference, don’t pay the extra price,” Stocco said. A more expensive bed might not be the most comfortable one depending on the person.
The couple work to build trust with their customers, even going so far as telling people they can buy metal bed frames for about $20 less at Menards, Costco or Sam’s Club.
Dreamers Outlet is affiliated with BoxDrop Mattress & Furniture, which started with 20 locations in the U.S. in 2013 and has grown to more than 300 sites, Stocco said. That gives the business access to mattress brands such as Simmons, Royal Heritage, Serta, Lane and Sapphire, and it also carries private label beds. And by keeping expenses down, they can offer prices that are 40 percent to 80 percent off retail, she said.
“Here’s how we can offer those prices: simple economics and lack of greed,” Stocco said.
They both come from large families so they know about living on a budget and how purchasing a quality bed or even enough beds for a family can seem to be a hard-to-reach goal, she said.
“It’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow” to have a decent bed, she said. “They’ll think they can’t afford a bed because they’ve been everywhere else.”
With the larger space, they’ve expanded into furniture and offer a wider variety of mattresses. They have sets ranging as cheap as $150 and up to thousands of dollars. Dreamers Outlet offers layaway with no interest and no storage fee. Customers pay 25 percent down and make three monthly payments after that.
Personal touches make Dreamers Outlet unique. Stocco and Darkow have created a play area for kids with books, toys and coloring. They have nicknames for the beds, some of which are tied to the colorful pillowcases on them with characters such as Elsa from “Frozen” and Batman. There’s an area for customers to display their business cards to help with networking.
Stocco is working to find local artists to display their work on the walls. So far, seven have agreed to provide artwork. Dreamers Outlet will sell the pieces for them without a commission fee. ”We just want to be able to pay it forward,” she said.
That charity carries over into donating beds to The Furniture Mission and the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House.
Darkow and Stocco own another mattress store at Okoboji that’s called Dreamers at the Lakes. It opened in March 2018 and is managed by Stocco’s brother. They’re looking at other locations and plan to expand again. They’re also ready to hire staff to help them at the new store. Stocco said the perfect hire would be a bilingual military veteran to help with sales, and they need a couple of delivery people too.
Ron Nelson of Nelson Commercial Real Estate found the new location for Dreamers Outlet and expects that they’ll continue to grow.
“It brings significantly more traffic and eyeballs,” he said of Plaza 41. “They were doing good business before in a challenging location, and that says it’s a good business. And now it’s so much easier for people to do business with them.”
The store is open from 1 to 6 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and by appointment. That later start to the day gives Darkow and Stocco the “wiggle room” to schedule time to meet with people who might work until 8 at night, she said. They’re also flexible with delivery times. Darkow delivered a bed at night to a customer who worked until 11 p.m. The bedspring wouldn’t fix through the man’s door, so he went back to the store, got a split box spring and finished the job. He didn’t get home until after 1 a.m.
“It’s not just work,” Darkow said. “We truly enjoy doing this.”
Locally owned Dreamers Outlet, which offers brand-name mattresses at discount prices, has moved into a more visible retail space at 41st Street and Kiwanis Avenue.