Our first year in Atlanta, we were expecting holiday guests in our new home but didn’t have enough beds. We walked into a couple of mattress stores and thought we had walked into a car dealership by accident: not only by the sticker shock, but by the sales strategies as well. Car dealers always try to get the customer in the car, and mattress dealers are the same with getting the customer in the bed.
These were the kinds of places that rent out large stores in busy areas, and sometimes have a guy out front dressed as a mattress to bring in customers. You always wonder how they stay in business—I mean how many mattresses can they possibly sell? And being inside, you get the same feeling. The two places we visited were so empty and quiet, I almost fell to sleep on one of the beds we tried out. Unfortunately (for the salesman) we weren’t taking one home with us—no matter how hard he tried to tell us, and sell us on a sale that he said was only good until the end of that day. I just couldn’t see spending thousands of dollars on a guest bed, especially when we had more than one guest room to fill.
Alex is the consummate hostess and her guestrooms are generally as cush, if not more, than our own room. She didn’t seem to believe her uncle who always quoted the old adage that guests, like fish, go bad after a few days.
I suggested we try Craig’s List for a slightly used bed, which she thought was revolting…until she checked it out for herself. There were some beds listed as never used, or only used in a guestroom, that were a tenth of the price of the large mattress dealers.
Now we used Craig’s List to sell stuff before we left LA and had some good experiences. People would come over and generally pay what you were asking, no hassles. In Atlanta we were on the buying end and it was, shall I say “interesting.”
The first mattress we found was in Doraville. The guy on the phone had a very southern accent and we thought he said the mattress was new. I was excited to show Alex a little more of the Atlanta area, and I remembered Doraville being in an old Atlanta Rhythm Section song called, appropriately, “Doraville.” The lyrics went, “a touch of country in the city.” Quaint, right?
Well, we pulled off of 285 right before Spaghetti Junction (the giant tangled interchange) and there we were—Doraville. “Not the best part I’m sure” I said to Alex. “I don’t think it can get worse. Let’s hope the mattress comes from the good part of town,” she shot back.
We pulled into a neighborhood not far from there and we were greeted by a big good-ole-boy and his two Dobermans. He led us to a back room where the mattress was, and while we entered the room he got distracted by a phone call. Alex looked at me like “we are going to die, let’s get out of here,” but we had driven almost an hour, so I was bound and determined to check out this mattress. Unfortunately, it looked like the mattress was new to humans, but used by dogs. There was a pee stain on the underside. We made our way out of there as fast as an Atlanta Rhythm Section guitar riff.
I had one more card up my sleeve to redeem Atlanta in the eyes of Alex, my California by way of Florida girl: Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, right next to Doraville. I know, by the name it sounds like another good-ole-boy situation, but it is quite the opposite.
Alex is such a great cook that people always tell her she should have her own restaurant. The Buford Highway Farmer’s Market is one of a couple places in Atlanta that chefs shop. This place seems to have as much square footage as an Ikea, but unlike Ikea, they don’t just have Swedish meatballs, they have a whole Swedish food aisle, and a Jamaican food aisle, and a Ukrainian food aisle. You name the ethnicity or geographic area, and this place has an aisle for it. This place is so diverse, Donald Trump would shut it down if he could.
So Alex and I were in heaven. I mean, the world’s foods under one roof, and an as seemingly well-represented group of shoppers. We heard more foreign tongues than English. There was a giant fish tank that you could pick fresh fish from and a fishmonger area that rivaled Pike Market in Seattle. They didn’t throw fish at you like up there, but they had as wide, if not wider of a selection.
Redeemed, and with a car full of groceries and bellies full of food samples, we headed home. Perhaps we would have to shop elsewhere for mattresses, but we knew we could always come back to the shadow of Doraville for any culinary treat we could imagine.