News and Information
Waterbed Salesman Reflects on Long Career, Dec 12, 2019
The Oconee Enterprise
"For almost 45 years, Oconee resident and Southern Waterbeds and Futons owner Lynn Hardman has witnessed the evolution of waterbeds.
Hardman started selling waterbeds at the Athens flear market in the late 1970s, after he had already setup a booth there selling other products to what he called the "counterculture youth market."
"I got into it because I finally took one [bed] home and set it up for myself," Hardman said. "It was just a natural progression into the waterbed business after that."
Hardman gave credence to Charlie Hall of San Francisco, the man who invented the waterbed.
"He understood about making a product that would have to conform to your body as opposed to your body having to conform to the bed," Hardman said. "When he invented the bed, that the first innovation in bedding since the box spring..."
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Key Account Executive visits Southern Waterbeds & Futons, April 19, 2019
I had the pleasure of a visit from an old friend today. I first met Steve decades ago at a waterbed show when he was a Vice President at Strobel Technologies. Strobel was a real pioneer in the waterbed industry and later they were the first company to introduce memory foam to the US market! Steve had his own waterbed stores back in the day outside of Chicago, too.
Now an independent Key Account Executive, Steve has recently suggested several new products for the store that we are very excited to have. The most exciting of which he is sitting on, they call it the Perfections Frame Free Bed. It's really different and I have never had anything like it in the store before. The Perfections is hard to describe but in general terms it's a 9 inch, deep fill, softside waterbed that's designed for individuals that want a softside that feels more like the original hardside waterbed except without the wood frame. If this intrigues you, the best thing to do is come in the store and take a long "Test Rest"and see how it feels to you.
Steve has also reintroduced me to Digital Waterbed Heaters. We now carry a 300 full watt model for hardside waterbeds and a 120 low watt model for softside waterbeds. The controls are easy to set and very easy to read even with the lights out. Another great product Steve made me aware of was the Versaleg Bedlegs. These leg kits are self supporting and allow us to easily install a softside waterbed inside a client's existing headboard, footboard and side rails without any weight being placed on the frame. We stock the Versaleg sets in three different heights; 5", 7" and 10".
It was very nice to see Steve again and to know I have a man of his experience on my team. I look forward to many more years of doing business with him.
The History of Waterbeds, CBS News, November 25, 2018
Can't see the video below? Click here to see on YouTube.
To hear Hall tell it, it was the first substantial reimagining of a mattress in at least a hundred years.
"Beds long ago were, like, indentations in the floor of the cave," he said. "You put straw in there, you put leaves in there. And if you're a good hunter you put in a skin or a pelt. And then in the Middle Ages they moved up into something off the floor, wood rack frame around and ropes underneath tying it together. But that's the way the bedding business was until, like, 1800s. Coil springs came around, and that was a big innovation. Coil springs were big, until waterbeds came along."
Despite this, it actually took awhile to convince the wider public to sleep on a bag of water – and it took even longer to convince the mattress industry.
For someone who never been on a waterbed, what they're missing out on, beside a good night's sleep, is "just fun. It's almost like being a little kid again. I think there would be a lot happier couples, a whole lot less aches and pains. It's a religious experience!"
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Waterbed promoters trying to revive industry with new focus on comfort, The Associated Press, September 24, 2018
TAMARAC, Fla. (AP) — Waterbeds still elicit a wink, wink, nudge, nudge whenever they come up in conversation — but two pioneers of the industry in the United States are hoping to generate a new wave of popularity for the old furniture concept by using a wholesome new pitch.
Talking about temperature-control innovations and health-conscious consumers, inventor Charles Hall and City Furniture CEO Keith Koenig don’t sound like wild and crazy guys. They aren’t the ones who joke that millennials claiming to have never seen a waterbed likely were conceived in one.
They just sound enviably well-rested.
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Lynn Hardman quoted in HowStuffWorks, June 15, 2018
Almost as quickly as the waterbed revolution began, though, it crashed. The novelty wore off. The revolution died. The summers of love ended. The era faded away.
These days, sales statistics for waterbeds are hard to come by. But it's clear that things aren't like they were back in the swinging '70s and '80s and even into the '90s. The competition (mainly things like air mattresses and memory foam) has grown. The number of waterbed manufacturers and sellers has shrunk.
Do you even know anyone who still owns a waterbed?
Lynn Hardman does. He still sleeps on one every night. He's also sold thousands of them over the past few decades to countless satisfied customers.
Hardman owns Southern Waterbeds & Futons in Athens, Georgia, and say that business isn't like what it was in the '70s, a time when mattress stores didn't dot every strip mall in every suburb, and mom-and-pop shops didn't have to compete with the internet. But there's still business out there. The waterbed is still hanging on.
"It's like night and day," says Hardman, who has operated his store for 43 years, almost as long as waterbeds have been around. "The waterbed has really followed that baby boom generation from the counterculture of the late '50s to where we are today. The early customers [back then] were younger and, today, it's almost the entire opposite. The baby boomers are older — much wiser — and in some cases buying that final bed."
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Interview with Charlie Hall, inventor of the waterbed, The Seattle Times, January 27, 2018
Millennials, the inventor of the waterbed has a message for you. Especially those of you living right here in the Pacific Northwest, like he does.
You need a waterbed.
Charlie Hall is 71 and a millionaire because of waterbeds and some of the other 40 patents he holds. (You know the Sun Shower, with the solar-heated bags that let you bathe when camping? That’s his.)
He’s planning on the waterbed making a comeback this spring.
“I don’t think a millennial has ever seen one,” says Charlie, as everyone calls him, about the invention he debuted 50 years ago at a “Happy Happening” art show in San Francisco.
“But I have this theory that it’s a Northwest kind of thing. I feel like a lot of us spawned in a waterbed.”
And so those younger types, “Maybe they want to visit the spawning ground.”
That first waterbed was called “The Pleasure Pit” because, as the oft-repeated sales pitch went in that groovy era, “Two things are better on a waterbed, and one of them is sleeping.”
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Manufacturer visits Southern Waterbeds & Futons, February 18, 2017
This is my old waterbed buddy, Jeff, in our Woodframe Waterbed Gallery where we display five "Hardside Waterbeds" with Drawers and Padded Rails. I'm proud to say that Jeff's company builds all of the wood products shown in this room and not only are all of these products MADE IN AMERICA, they are made by my friend Jeff. He's been in business since 1977 and is a very "hands on" manufacturer. He gets it and, unlike other manufacturing company presidents I have known, he can even install a waterbed all by himself! He makes all of our pine waterbed frames, headboards, drawers and matching furniture from solid Ponderosa Pine and they are the best pine products that I have ever sold. He also builds our padded rails, basic waterbed pedestals and cuts our decking. We were very pleased to have him drop by and visit.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, Feb 13, 2011
Hardman attends furniture market
Lynn Hardman, owner/ operator of Southern Waterbeds & Futons, attended the winter Las Vegas Market held this January at the World Market Center in Las Vegas.
Hardman is a longtime member of The Specialty Sleep Association and has owned and operated his business in Athens for 36 years.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, Nov 7, 2010
Waterbed, futon shop passes 35-year mark
Southern Waterbeds & Futons owner/operator Lynn Hardman recently marked the 35th anniversary of his retail business.
Hardman started the business in 1975 in a booth at the former Athens Flea Market, where the Classic Center now stands. The original booth sold a variety of products including parts and accessories for waterbeds. That venture grew and expanded to become Athens' first waterbed store and now the oldest waterbed store in the state.
The business was moved to a strip center on Atlanta Highway near Georgia Square Mall when the mall opened in 1981. The store moved again in 1987 to its present location across from the mall when Hardman had the opportunity to purchase that property. Futons were then added to the product mix and incorporated into the business name.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, April 4, 2010
Business Whirl: Hardman attends collegiate trade show
Lynn Hardman recently attended the Campus Market Expo 2010 trade show held March 13-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The trade show was geared toward collegiate retailing industry professionals from all across the country.
Hardman has owned the local specialty sleep shop Southern Waterbeds & Futons for 35 years. The shop has a speciality niche in University of Georgia room decor, and the business recently added a new Web page titled UGA Home Decor at www.southernwaterbeds.com.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, March 7, 2010
Business Whirl: Hardman attends major furniture show
Southern Waterbeds & Futons Inc. owner Lynn Hardman recently attended the winter furniture market at the World Market Center in Las Vegas. The event caters to all aspects of the furniture industry, and this year it had a special focus on bedding. Also, the Specialty Sleep Association showroom featured a product mix of bedding, showing a wider variety of sleep systems mainly for specialty sleep retailers. Hardman also attended a WMC presentation providing an overview of essential Web marketing techniques.
Hardman is the president of Southern Waterbeds & Futons and has owned and operated the business in Athens for 35 years. He is an original member of The Specialty Sleep Association.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, April 26, 2009
Lynn Hardman, owner/operator of Southern Waterbeds & Futons, recently attended the World Market Center Las Vegas, an international home furnishings showcase that has grown to feature more than 5 million square feet of state-of-the-art showrooms and exhibits.
The Specialty Sleep Association, the successor organization for the waterbed industry, introduced its first-ever permanent showroom in the new building C of the World Market Center.
Hardman visited individual manufacturer showrooms and attended six seminars devoted to Web site development and marketing. Just prior to the market, Hardman hired local firm AthensGuy.com to host and further develop Southern Waterbeds’ current Web site, southernwaterbeds.com. Hardman is celebrating 34 years in business this year.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, March 23, 2008
Lynn Hardman of Southern Waterbeds and Futons visits the Specialty Sleep Association booth at the Las Vegas Market in January, 2008. He has been a member of this valuable organization since its beginning in 1995.
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, February 25, 2007
Athens Banner-Herald on Sunday, August 28, 2005
Lynn Hardman at the Grand Opening of The World Market Center, July 2005: