If you can navigate the winding streets of Kansas City, survive the traffic of the Plaza, and figure out the confusing intersections of Westport, then hopefully you can find Temple Slug Futon, the oldest waterbed store in the world. Founded on April Fool's Day in 1970, this store is not only a roadside attraction but a haven for all the hippies of Kansas City.
After a few wrong turns in Westport and getting stuck in the holiday traffic of the Plaza, I finally found Temple Slug Futon on the corner of Jefferson and 43rd. With a hanging sign out front announcing its status as the world's older waterbed store, it looks like any other little shop lost in the old and new developments of that neighborhood of Kansas City. But, ever curious, I parked in front of the new apartment complex across the street and wandered in to explore.
I was immediately greeted by the smell of incense and a very kind saleswoman who asked if I was looking for a futon. I politely declined her help and told her I was just browsing. And was there every a collection of things to browse! In addition to the futons and other furniture, there was a wide variety of incense, crystals, candles, oils, and soaps filling the shelves of the store. From the East, there was an eclectic collection of items covered with Chinese symbols, yin-yangs, and Buddhas. For the modern druid, there other items covered with Celtic symbols and pentagrams. As I wandered through the store, I was amazed by the sheer variety of items all celebrating unique philosophies often neglected in the mainstream American culture.
It's weird and wonderful and colorful, even if it does tend to overwhelm the senses. I wandered through the store in a bit of a daze, trying to look at everything but realizing I could examine the shelves for an hour and still not see everything trinket they had to offer. I thought about making a small purchase, just to commemorate the experience, but honestly couldn't decide on anything to get. There were simply too many wonderful and interesting things.
The sales staff there were incredibly nice. They were always there to offer to help me but also let me wander in my happy daze as I browsed the shelves. If you're visiting Kansas City or even just passing through, it may be tempting to just stop by Temple Slug Futon to take a picture of the sign and then drive on. But then you will be missing half the fun. Stop and enjoy, browse and explore. That is why this place has been around for 40 years to earn the title of the world's oldest waterbed store. Because it is just that much fun to look around inside.
Total Travel Time: 1 hour
Total Travel Distance: 60 miles
Soundtrack: "Dookie" Green Day