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Hammock Sales Are Hotter Than Ever

A hammock is much more than a comfortable place to unwind and relax: It’s a state of mind. When you close your eyes, the tranquil sway of a hammock makes it easy to dream of being on a tropical island or at a favorite vacation spot. Today, as people spend more time in their outdoor-living areas, the popularity of hammocks as focal points for rest and relaxation is experiencing a renewed boost.

The first rope hammock without uncomfortable knots in the hammock body was introduced in the United States in 1889, in the resort town of Pawleys Island, S.C. Riverboat pilot Joshua Ward was looking for a way to stay cool and comfortable when sleeping on his boat during the hot Southern summers. After several failed attempts at refashioning the basic hammock design, Ward hit upon using wooden spreader bars to latch weave the strands of rope continuously, and a tradition was born.

Hammocks really surged in popularity in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, and have since been the subject of renewed interest with the advent of the outdoor room. Jay Branch, president of The HammockSource, based in Greenville, N.C., explains that advances in textiles have made hammocks more comfortable, durable and stylish than ever before.

The HammockSource, the leading manufacturer of hammocks in the United States, offers the two most respected and recognized consumer brands: The Original Pawleys Island® rope hammock and Hatteras Hammocks®, both of which are sold by thousands of retailers, both in stores and online, across the nation.

The HammockSource is an unrivaled innovator in hammock construction and style. The company uses the finest materials available to make its hammock ropes, fabrics, rope-spreader bars, hammock stands and hanging hardware. In 2003, The HammockSource developed a synthetic performance yarn called DuraCord® that combines superior durability and colorfastness with the softness of cotton.

The feel of DuraCord is so similar to that of cotton, in fact, that even textile experts have difficulty distinguishing between the two. The HammockSource uses DuraCord in many of its hammock ropes and custom-woven fabrics, as well as in its higher-end outdoor-furniture line, Hatteras Outdoors®, and its higher-end outdoor-rug line, Sawgrass Mills®.

One of the company’s other innovations (many of which are patented) is CapeShield®, a weather-resistant powder coating applied to metal components to prevent rust and to protect them from sun, rain and other harsh outdoor elements.

As consumers pursue adding more style to their outdoor spaces, The HammockSource’s design team is constantly creating fresh, one-of-a-kind fabrics and improvements to hammock design that work visually and functionally on any porch or deck, or in any backyard. “People want durability, function and style, and our hammocks have it all,” Branch says.

Not all hammocks are created equal, he emphasizes. The HammockSource targets specific customers with its two mainstay hammock brands. The Original Pawleys Island rope hammocks are manufactured for and sold to the mass market, while Hatteras Hammocks are sold exclusively by specialty retailers.

The design and details of a Hatteras Hammock appeal to consumers who want something unique and are willing to pay a little extra. “For example, we use exotic, teak-like cumaru wood in Hatteras spreaders and stands; all the fabrics and ropes are made with DuraCord; and we offer over 16 fabric choices, so people can customize their hammocks,” Branch says. He stresses that all of The HammockSource’s products meet the company’s standards for high quality.

Branch admits that it can be intimidating for retailers to choose hammocks that will meet their customers’ needs, and he encourages sellers to consider specific criteria when deciding which brands to carry.

Safety: This is something that many retailers forget to consider. Reputable manufacturers will test and certify their hammocks for safety, but retailers shouldn’t assume that all hammocks have been safety tested; they should ask. It’s also good practice to examine the physical details of a hammock: Are the ropes thick and dense? Is the fabric’s weave tight and sturdy? Are the hardware components (hooks and chains) made from high-grade metal? Retailers should do their homework so their customers won’t have to do it.

Comfort: People say that comfort is the primary reason that they buy hammocks. There are a number of hammock styles, each with a different kind of comfort: the traditional rope hammock, which can be woven of cotton, polyester or DuraCord; the quilted hammock, made of soft, cushioned fabric; the Textilene® hammock, which is made of a single piece of vinyl-coated–polyester mesh fabric; and the single-layer fabric hammock, constructed of one heavy piece of fabric.

Durability: People expect hammocks to last. A hammock should be made of materials that can withstand the elements without fading, staining or tearing. The hardware and components should also be strong enough not to shorten the life of the hammock.

Design: Consumers today want hammocks that will coordinate with their outdoor decor and are unwilling to settle for just one color choice or style. Go with a manufacturer that offers the hottest selections in colors, patterns and designs.

Even though the economy right now is challenging, Branch says that he foresees good times and growth for the hammock industry. He is actually looking forward to the next few years. “Whenever the economy has a hiccup, our business skyrockets,” he says. “People may not go on a vacation or buy a new car, but they will buy a new hammock because it represents good times and says something positive about their lifestyles.”


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