Merrill Furniture & Mattress Outlet opens on Second St.
BY TINA L. SCOTT
A new furniture and mattress outlet opened in Merrill on Saturday, July 15, 2023.
Merrill Furniture & Mattress Outlet, at 730 E. Second St. in Merrill, opened as a showroom for an economical line of furnishings and will follow a new business model.
“We will focus a lot on mattresses as well as a range of recliners, lift chairs, stationary and reclining sofas and sectionals, and power reclining furniture,” said business owner Grace Weaver.
“There is a market demand for economy furniture in Merrill,” she said. “While the other stores [in town] may offer some economy options, the economy market is not their primary market; they appear to focus a bit more on name brand furniture, so I saw the opportunity to offer some quality furniture at discount prices. I am especially focusing on mattresses, offering great prices on a quality range of all American-made mattresses.”
Weaver isn’t new to the furniture market. Together with her husband, Tom Cimino, they operate a furniture and gun store in Tomahawk, but the Merrill store is Weaver’s personal endeavor and will operate differently than most traditional furniture stores.
“I have always had an appetite for business,” Weaver said. And “I have been formulating a mental plan for a while for a furniture store that would allow customers to shop without the assistance of a sales person if they wished … More of an internet shopping experience with a try-before-you-buy option.” She is excited to see her dream coming to fruition.
Customers can purchase mattresses and furnishings directly from the store’s website [merrillfurnitureoutlet.com] but, as many online shoppers know, it can be frustrating to order furniture they haven’t had an opportunity to see, touch, and try out in person. That’s where Weaver’s showroom comes in.
Customers can come to the store’s showroom to view, touch, and sit in the furnishings available on the website. The actual furnishings in the store are not for sale but are samples of what customers can order online.
“All items in the store will have QR codes that link to the web listings, and customers can purchase entirely online and schedule delivery or pickup all online,” Weaver said. They can do all that while sitting right there in the store trying out the very item they want to purchase, for comfort, size, and fit, or when they get back home after they’ve pondered their purchase for a while. Pricing and other color options will be clearly posted.
“There will be wifi at the store and customers will be able to connect their devices to it if they are unable to use cell service,” she said. “I am also investigating options to place a kiosk where customers can place their orders,”
A visit to the Merrill store/showroom will be a largely self-guided experience. Weaver said her experience working in the furniture business suggests customers like to browse and try out furniture without a salesperson hovering too closely, so they don’t feel pressured. Her new showroom allows customers to browse at their leisure, try out and look at all the options, and complete their purchase according to their own timeframe.
“We have discovered in our business in Tomahawk that a large portion of our customers do enjoy shopping without the assistance of a sales person,” Weaver said. “I have also connected with people at the furniture conventions I attend every year who have successfully implemented this type of concept. Some of my reps actually find increased business at stores implementing this concept due to the unstressed shopping experience where the customer does not feel pressured to make a decision, as they might when dealing with a sales person.”
“I am attempting to offer the online shopping experience that is popular among many of us younger people, as well as a traditional shopping experience during staffed hours that certain populations prefer,” she said.
Initially, Weaver or her store manager, Amelia Cimino, will be on-site at the store to help customers and to get a better feel for the Merrill market. “The plan for this store is to have open hours 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, in order to allow adequate shopping time for all consumers,” Weaver said. “It will be fully staffed for the first week at least ‘til we determine when it would be best to stay staffed.”
After the first couple of weeks, the store may be unstaffed at times, but customers can still come into the showroom to shop at their leisure. Cameras will provide security surveillance.
Weaver said she will “have the store staffed over some of the more popular, busy times and also staffed over pickup days so that I can still offer the traditional sales person assistance.”
“The store will be staffed over peak times,” she said. “The unstaffed portion will simply be to give customers a longer shopping time for those whose schedule prohibits shopping over normal hours of operations such as 9-5. We plan to experiment a bit and will probably be staffed full-time until we determine peak hours.”
“Anyone can receive traditional customer service during staffed hours, and there will be customer service available via phone or Facetime anytime the store is open,” she said. “Even during times when this location may be unstaffed, customer service will always be available via phone call or video and even, if needed, in person, since my store manager lives nearby.”
“Cash or checks will be accepted during staffed hours, and if someone purchases online, we can collect cash or check payment at time of pickup or delivery,” she said. “We are also able to process orders over the phone and accept card, cash, or check payments.”
“I am very excited to share this store with the people in Merrill and provide a very affordable and flexible furniture and mattress shopping experience,” Weaver said.
The Merrill Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the new store on July 14.