2008-11-21 / Business

Rest assured, shop makes customers top priority

By Daniel Wolowicz camarillo@theacorn.com

DANIEL WOLOWICZ/Acorn Newspapers SLEEP WELL—Debbie Wickman, owner of Camarillo Mattress Warehouse on Pickwick Drive, is celebrating the store's 10-year anniversary with a sale. Wickman, a longtime Camarillo resident and mother of three, started the shop in 1998. She says she prides herself on friendly customer service. DANIEL WOLOWICZ/Acorn Newspapers SLEEP WELL—Debbie Wickman, owner of Camarillo Mattress Warehouse on Pickwick Drive, is celebrating the store's 10-year anniversary with a sale. Wickman, a longtime Camarillo resident and mother of three, started the shop in 1998. She says she prides herself on friendly customer service. Debbie Wickman's approach to business is pretty simple.

Wickman, owner of Camarillo Mattress Warehouse, said she's focused on two basic principles— quality customer service and competitive prices.

The formula has worked for the entrepreneurial mother of three who opened her 3,000square-foot store on Pickwick Drive in 1998 with money she borrowed from her grandmother and inventory from her brother's mattress store.

It didn't take long before she paid both back and was on her way to becoming a successful businesswoman.

Although Wickman said she was "petrified" about starting the business on her own, she didn't give herself much time for second thoughts.

Realizing her money was running low after a divorce two years earlier, Wickman said she woke on a Wednesday in mid-October of 1998 and decided she wanted to open a mattress store. By the following Monday, Wickman welcomed her first customer and hasn't looked back since.

"I just jumped in with both feet," Wickman said. "I love it. It's fun."

In addition to a wide range of mattresses, the store also sells beds, headboards, footboards and futons.

Nov. 1 marked the shop's official 10-year anniversary. It's been a decade, Wickman said, spent taking care of customers to help ensure a return visit.

"I love the people," Wickman said. "People love us. Some are on their fourth, fifth and sixth bed already."

A Camarillo resident for the past 20 years, Wickman said she's had customers at Leisure Village who were unable to drive to her shop, so she came to their house to bring them to and from the store.

"I'll do just about anything for the customers," she said.

Like most small business owners, Wickman said she's always willing to keep the store open later for a customer.

"She'll sell two or three mattresses even after the store's supposed to be closed and she's forgotten to flip the sign," said Dusty Mulhall, her boyfriend's son and a part-time employee at the store.

The business is definitely a family affair. Wickman said all three of her siblings—a brother and two sisters—own mattress shops in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Wickman's mom, Barbara Simcik, works at the mattress store, as does Suzanne Mulhall, the mother of Wickman's boyfriend.

Wickman said no one in the store works on commission, and she strives to keep overhead down in order to pass the savings on to her customers.

"I don't work like normal stores on commission, so I don't have to bump (prices) up," Wickman said. "We keep overhead low."

Wickman said despite the tough economy, her shop is doing well, especially at this time of year when customers are looking for guest beds for holiday visitors. She said August, with the return of students to California State University Channel Islands, is also a busy month.

In addition, the store does custom work on trailers, recreational vehicles and boats.

Wickman, whose children are grown, was a longtime coach for the Camarillo Girls Softball Association. She said she continues to sponsor softball and other local youth sports teams.

Camarillo Mattress Warehouse, 2177 Pickwick Drive, is open Mondays and Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.

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