Commentary

Saunders: Waylaid bed steals Fuquay-Varina woman's sleep

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJuly 6, 2014 

If you want to do something good for yourself, listen to Isaac Hayes’ interpretation of Jimmy Webb’s classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Carve out enough time, though, because Ike’s version lasts 19 minutes. It’s worth every one of them.

Now, for the reason we’re here: In the song, Hayes, who is driving down the highway after leaving his two-timing woman, sings that by the time he hits Albuquerque, “She’ll probably stop at lunch just to give her sweet, good thing a call. Oh, she’ll hear the phone keep right on ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing off the wall. That’s all.”

That’s all Almetta Herring heard when she called The Mattress Capital store on Glenwood Avenue last week to pick up the bed she was purchasing for her son and to make another payment on the special one she was buying for herself.

That’s all I heard, too, when I tried to contact the store owner at that number and at another left on the door of the now vacant store. The phone just kept right on ringing and ringing and ringing ...

“I was very, very upset,” Herring told me, sounding very, very upset still, two weeks after finding out the $200 she’d paid had vanished with the store owner. “I’m a single mother working a temp job, and I work too hard for my money for someone to just come and take it.”

That might not seem like a lot of dough to lose to you, but to some people on tight budgets it’s two weeks’ groceries or a light-bill payment.

It’s a loss of more than just money, though: It’s a loss of trust. President Calvin Coolidge said, “The business of America is business,” and if we get to the point where we can’t trust businesses with our layaways – a practice, dating from the Great Depression, which it’s comforting to know still exists – then we’re doomed.

Herring is also upset that the store’s absconded owner has all of her vital personal information.

Herring, 48, of Fuquay-Varina said that because she has bad circulation in her legs, she was splurging and buying one of those expensive, electric “sleep number” beds for herself. She doesn’t make a lot of money, she said, so the salesman allowed her to put the beds on layaway. She said she’d been making payments bi-weekly, but went by the store to pick up the one for her 6-year-old son.

That’s when she discovered the store and her money were both gone. I went by there Saturday, and the glass front door was stained by handprints and noseprints presumably of people peering inside for some sign of life, some sign of a still-functioning business. All they saw, though, were mismatched mattresses and box springs scattered about the floor.

“I had my heart set on it,” she said of her fancy mattress. “I was paying on it like I was supposed to. They just up and left. I pray this man get what’s coming to him. ... All I could do was cry. I want this person stopped.”

You know who else wants him stopped?

The owners of two other The Mattress Capital stores that are not affiliated with the one that left Herring and possibly others with no beds or explanations.

If the sudden shuttering of the Glenwood Avenue mattress store is causing angry, restless, tear-filled nights for Herring, it’s causing headaches and potentially lost business for Matt Boomsma and Kirk Englebright.

Boomsma, owner of the same-named store in Wake Forest, said “I’m glad they’re gone. My reputation means a whole lot to me,” and sharing the same name with a company that leaves customers bed-less threatens that reputation he’s built over nine years.

Kirk Englebright, who owns The Mattress Capital stores in Wilmington and Southport, said the same thing, that his business could be thought guilty by association. “I tell everybody who calls here (looking for their money back) that we’re not affiliated” with that store. “I tell them to call their credit card company and try to stop the payment.”

Efforts to reach the owner of the store or the building were unsuccessful.

Herring shouldn’t give up on all mattress stores because she may have gotten ripped off by one. Boomsma, owner of the Wake Forest store, has offered to sell her one “for cost,” for what he said he paid for it.

Upon learning of her distress, Herring said, salesmen from a Mattress Firm store across the avenue on Glenwood have apparently set in motion plans to get her a bed for free or reduced cost.

Perhaps, then, this story will have a happy ending, and by the time the dude who appears to have run off with Herring’s money gets to Phoenix or wherever he’s going, she’ll be rising – from her new bed.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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