Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The HammockSource - The Comfort Compromise

I just received the September issue of Casual Living Magazine, "the voice of the leisure marketplace."

On page 36 begins the article by Cinde W. Ingram:

"The HammockSource transforms backyards around the world."

The HammockSource has indeed altered the way hammocks are sold in America and around the world. However . . .

Here are some misleading factoids from the article:

"South Carolina riverboat captain Josh Ward essentially reinvent(ed) the hammock, crafting a more stable and comfortable lattice-like woven hammock design and adding a wooden spreader bar where none had been before."

Let's break down this absurdly false sentence:

1. "Josh Ward essentially reinvented the hammock..." - FALSE. Cap'n Josh made a lazy sketch of a hammock with a rope cargo net from his boat, and he wasn't the first to do it.

2. "...creating a more stable and (more) comfortable lattice-like woven hammock design..."
FALSE. Anyone who has a basic understanding of physics knows that the bars create tension along a central line that makes the hammock "tippy," or UNSTABLE. Authentic hammocks, without wood spreaders, are supremely stable, as any reasonably educated hammock user knows.

The gaping weave in Josh Ward's rope hammock is not more comfortable than anything that pre-dated his "creation." The "lattice-like woven hammock design" is certainly not attributable to Josh Ward. Superbly comfortable, authentic Mayan hammocks predated Cap'n Josh by at least 900 years!

3. "...and adding a wooden spreader where none had been before."
FALSE as evidenced below:

This engraving (available on Wikipedia), from 1630,
predates Josh Ward by 259 years:

Theodor_Galle_after_Johannes_Stradanus.PNG‎ (744 × 551 pixels, file size: 543 KB, MIME type: image/png)

Here you see that "hammocks," with wood spreaders and lattice like weaving were "created" centuries before Josh Ward came along.

Josh Ward may have inspired the Pawleys Island Hammock Company, but he was an imitator not an innovator.

Captain Josh Ward was not even the first lazy rigger to install wood bars in his "hammock." He merely copied a bad copy.

Weaving comfort into a hammock is an art form. The art of comfort takes time, and a great deal of skill and patience that Captain Josh Ward wasn't willing to apply 120 years ago.

Josh Ward's "contribution" to the hammock world is a romanticized bit of fiction - authored by The HammockSource, a company built on propaganda.

"A sign inside the company's 280,000 sq.-ft. plant in Greenville, N.C., speaks to its underlying philosophy: Quality is when our customers come back and our products don't"

The high number of disappointed HammockSource customers coming to us as a result of this "philosophy," underscores their compromise between durability and comfort.

Our philosophy: Transcendent Comfort defines a hammock.

The primary function of a hammock is to provide COMFORT - religious, transcendent, COMFORT.

If you lay in a hammock and say - "
Oh my God, this is HEAVENLY ...ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!" you are definitely not in a hammock from The HammockSource.

The HammockSource builds hammocks that can be made quickly, for a great profit, subtracting the time and effort required to build comfort into their designs. Making hammocks from materials that are impervious to weather is a fine concept, but it is not feasible beyond a certain point without compromising comfort.

The HammockSource sells us a ride without transporting us.

There are half a dozen photos on page 36 of the article - showing hammocks in various stages of production at their plant in Greenville, N.C., and yet no mention of the fact that the majority of The HammockSource product is made in China(and has been for the last decade).

This is the very reason we are now weathering the worst flood of sub-standard goods in the history of the hammock.

The main character of the real shammock saga is Mr. Perkins. It's obvious that he worked hard to build his business, is a businessman, and he is respected for that accomplishment.

However, the premise that he has done something positive for the world of comfort and leisure is wholly false.

According to the Casual Living article, Mr. Perkins began his career selling cigarettes, a product well-known as a leading cause of death and discomfort around the world.

He moved up to selling another popular product that conveys the image of comfort without providing any, the Rope Hammock.

The marketing skill and business savvy required to pull this off with a straight face is somewhat beyond my imagination, but nonetheless impressive and extremely lucrative.

The article ends with a statement from CEO Walter Perkins III

"It's hard to argue with success."

That it is, Walter... however,

We define success in terms of values like truth and comfort, not dollars.

I disagree with the premise of your article, and with the misleading self promotion that has caused so many people to suffer lost comfort, even loss of life, for the sake of your profits.

History will show the "success" of The HammockSource as trendsetters in a near obliteration of the comfort standard in the hammock market, and a temporary whitewashing of The Comfort Compromise.

Casual Living, once again spotlights a loyal advertiser with an in-depth "Company Report" masqueraded as journalism. Bravo.

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