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Rockaway Corp in Randolph, NJ, offers beds by Telephone and provides them in under four hours. The company service contains a 30-day comfort guarantee, setup, elimination of the old mattress and a free best futon mattress. Rockaway, which has saturated the marketplace in New Jersey and lower New York, is expanding into Pennsylvania and hopes to become a national operation. The company asserts that its sales for the Try-A-Bed program rose by 82.

Takes Try-A-Bed on the road, first stop Pennsylvania

Rockaway Bedding is growingas The custom Harley Tony LiCastro pushes in his spare time.

The sleeping chain had humble Beginnings: LiCastro went into business for himself by promoting mattresses in a flea market. Today, he manages a 42-unit operation with estimated earnings of $40 million final year (for 31 shops).

Since opening his first store in 1982, The chain of LiCastro has grown to include 13 stores in Pennsylvania, all of which opened with the calendar year, 21 stores in New Jersey and eight in New York.

LiCastro hopes to grow even now That he has expanded the company's Try-A-Bed telemarketing solutions . Styled after Dial-A-Mattress, the business began the division in warehouse and its company headquarters here , instead to opening stores in the New York and New Jersey area.

Steve Brockmann, vice president of this Division, stated, "We've sealed up New Jersey and lower New York state, so we've expanded into Pennsylvania. We are wanting to move to a few different states within the next year, and we're looking to go nationwide"

Even though Brockmann declined to Provide the Try-A-Bed was made by by percent of Rockaway's sales, he said earnings in the next year were up 50 percent over 1990 and second year sales were up 82 percent. Brockmann, who claimed a final ratio in excess of 30 percent for that operation, noted, "it was a new venture, but it has repaid."

While Brockmann predicted that Rockaway will Be two in bedding sales by the end of 94, it remains to be seen if the retailer can climb past Sleepy's JC Penney, Levitz, Montgomery Ward Co., and Mattress Discounters, all of that are ahead of Rockaway in sales according to a recent HFD survey (Sears is number one).

The company is projecting an increase of at Least 7% in store sales for 1993. Brockmann predicted that overall earnings will probably be up by 27 percent by year's end as a consequence of the expansion.

The merchant has come a long way in a short time. According to Brockmann, the chain has gained strength through its ability to outservice furniture and department stores and futon mattress reviews.

"The sleep shop industry did not exist 13 Years ago," Brockmann said. "The department stores weren't offering much support. They billed for shipping. They charged for a frame and installation. They did not do removal [of a classic mattress]. The market was there waiting to be taken."

Rockaway seized the opportunity--offering Delivery, a bed frame that is free, free setup of a mattress and free removal of the mattress, and a 30-day comfort guarantee. The Try-A-Bed branch also offers four-hour delivery (Brockmann noted that the positioning of its Randolph, N.J. warehouse keeps it from providing the exact same two-hour delivery as Dial-A-Mattress).

Suppliers praised the surgery. Said one, "They are very consumer oriented in terms of making the shipping when promised. Everybody there is worried about getting out the order."

The chain's aggressive commercials Prominently mention the freebies and cover price points which range from a twin foam mattress to ultra premium flagship sets, are important to its success.

Even Joe Vicens, VP of advertising of For helping to expand the market and increase customer acceptance of mattresses by telephone Dial-A-Mattress, praised his competitor. Vicens stated, "They are helping the consumer take an 800 number for ordering a mattress. It is healthy competition. As long as we compete on the support side and do not get in the price issue, I don't think it's going to be an issue."

Brockmann said Rockaway is currently expecting to improve They were brought by by maintaining records of buyers, including information ranging from their sex its advertising at the shop. He's learned, for instance, that 95 percent of customers react to ads and that 99% of Rockaway clients were prompted to stop by the shops.

While the beds clients bought used to Drop in the $699 to $799 range the bulk of the business is done at the price points. Brockmann noted, "It has been static in the $499 to $799 range and I don't see that changing within the following year." He added that he's considering replacing some of the beds on his floor with versions.

While Rockaway was praised by one manufacturer for Growing its bedding assortment to add more high end flagship beds and advertisements a broad assortment of price points, he noticed, however, "their prices begin too low. Being as big as they are, they ought to set an example and begin greater."

Rockaway's average assortment that is 29-bed includes Sealy, Serta, Somma, Spring Air, and Orthoposture beds, a promotional private label. The lineup ranges from a $199 private label bed promoted at $149 to a $1,599 Sealy bed advertised at $1,299.

To improve the look of the floor Will be shown over the next two months with metal beds. The merchant is shifting its assortment from one which is mainly brass and brassplate to a which is going to be dominated by iron beds in verdi, sandstone, rust and other specialty finishes.

Rockaway's mix currently includes 70 percent Brass or brass plate and 30% iron beds--ranging from a $259 brass plate mattress to some $2,199 genuine brass bed, either from Fashion Bed Group. Within two months, it will comprise 40% brass or brass plate and 60% iron beds. The new combination will include a broader choice of iron beds.

"The exotic endings are what's Happening," conceding that Rockaway's brass-heavy assortment has lagged behind the department shops.

While Rockaway tries to enhance and expand, The road hasn't been without some bumps. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection fined the merchant $10,000 to settle allegations that it used sales strategies. Brockmann declined to comment on the fine.

Manufacturers were more vocal. "They [Rockaway] are growing like a weed, but a part of what they're doing gives the bedding business a bad name," said one.

Still, however, stated the fine may be a Result of the need to catch up with its growth of the retailer. "Due to their rapid growth, the sales folks in some of the new stores might not be as knowledgeable as they should be," he noticed.

For the most part, however, manufacturers were Optimistic about Rockaway's outlook. Said one, "It's a very positive account. Their bills are paid by them among the best in the industry, far better than The department shops. They are currently making profits and pouring every dime Back in their best futon mattress queen."

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