DEKALB – Mike Kisluk cannot believe it has been almost a decade since he first opened the doors of his business.
“It feels like a miracle,” Kisluk said. “It seems like it was just yesterday.”
Kisluk opened Mattress Warehouse in DeKalb in August 2000. The store offers various brands of mattresses as well as headboards, bunk beds, children’s furniture, futons and water bed supplies. Kisluk said he works closely with customers to make sure they are purchasing a quality product at a reasonable price.
“We’ve always tried to work towards the discounted side of things, so when times got tougher, we were already in that market,” Kisluk said. “It has helped us in a lot of ways to attract customers that might not have come here in the past.”
Mattress Warehouse also offers products that residents may use to help renovate their van or recreational vehicle.
“We can order raw foam for people who are doing custom conversions of vans or special things with RVs,” Kisluk said. “We can order custom-size mattresses, water bed sheets, three-quarter size sheets, kind of oddities that are a little tricky to find without ordering online.”
Kisluk said the business has received many regular customers during the past 10 years. He said some residents have made it a family tradition to shop at Mattress Warehouse.
“There might be a young couple with young kids, and they will say, ‘My parents came here to get bunk beds for us when I was a kid,’ and now they’re here with their kid,” Kisluk said.
Mattress Warehouse has received several recognitions, including the “Dealer of the Year” award from the Englander Mattress company in 2009. The business received a special recognition award from the company in 2010.
Before operating the business, Kisluk worked for the Blackhawk Moving and Storage Company. He said he stored equipment and supplies in a garage where Mattress Warehouse is currently located.
“Once in awhile, I would have a garage sale back here. I found out people could find this alley, and I found out people were willing to come and spend money in this alley,” Kisluk said. “I always had, in the back of my mind, that if I had some kind of product, maybe I could sell it from back here.”
Kisluk said he became interested in the mattress industry while shopping for a bed.
“I was in a mattress store lying on a bed, and I was watching the mattress salesman, and it dawned on me that it was the kind of job where the person was in the store all day, and they’re interacting with people,” Kisluk said. “I talked to the guy who I bought the bed from, and he was telling me that it was a great job, and you get to call the shots. When I got out of moving household goods, I experimented working at a furniture store in the suburbs, and I sought out a manufacturer to buy mattresses from.”
Kisluk said he has enjoyed operating the business, even though it has presented some challenges at times.
“There’s a lot of pluses. There’s really no boss except the consumer, so I can do things how I perceive are best,” Kisluk said. “That also entails being willing to put in a lot of hours, because when you have your own business, there’s no guarantee that someone is going to come and buy your product or even come and walk through the door. There’s a huge leap of faith.”
Kisluk started out operating the business with his wife, but now he mostly operates the store by himself. He has two subcontractors who help him deliver products to customers.
“I use local people who have all the insurances to do the deliveries. There’s a local farmer and a guy who teaches at DeKalb High School who has a delivery service,” Kisluk said. “They have been a blessing, so to speak, because whoever delivers is vital to any store, because that’s the last person anybody ever sees from the store. These guys have really helped me build the place.”
Kisluk said he appreciates the support that his business has received during the past 10 years.
“I’m grateful that people are willing to give us a chance to promote what we have,” Kisluk said. “I’m really grateful that people purchase enough of the products to maintain the store and keep my household running.”