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Rest & Revive Float Center

Rest & Revive Float Center is up for sale, will end family's 60+ years in business in Batavia

By Virginia Kropf

Photo of business partners Brandon Buckel, left, and Gary VanValkenburg.

Gary VanValkenburg’s family has been in business in Batavia since 1960, during which time they have made numerous changes to adapt to economic conditions and times.

Now, however, VanValkenburg says it’s time to retire.

The business his father started as Central TV in 1960 is now known as Rest & Revive Float Center, which the 70-year-old VanValkenburg runs with a business partner, Brandon Buckel.

Several factors have contributed to VanValkenburg’s decision to put the business up for sale at this time.

'Plans of Retirement on Horizon'

First is the coronavirus pandemic, which forced them to shut down for 85 days, and secondly is the fact VanValkenburg’s wife is seriously ill and he is her primary  caregiver.

“I just can’t do both any more,” he said. “It is with mixed emotions we have decided to put our family property and business on the market, with plans of retirement on the horizon.” 

Back in 1960, Gary’s parents, Russell and Rose VanValkenburg, opened a television sales/service business in the basement of Mancuso Furniture on Main Street in Batavia.

In 1963, they tore down the front porch of their house and built a store in the front to sell televisions and stereos. In the early 1970s, Twin Fair opened up down the road from their house and were selling the same products for the prices VanValkenburgs paid at wholesale.

Once a Haven for Waterbeds

“My parents knew they had to go in a different direction,” Van Valkenburg said. “At that time, they were sleeping on a waterbed and it was their idea to open a waterbed store.”

That resulted in opening The Waterbed Store in 1974 at 596 E. Main St., where they sold all types of waterbeds. 

Gary grew up in his parents business, delivering mattresses with his father from the time he was 10. Gary became a plumber in Batavia, until giving it up to join his parents when they purchased a Waterbed World franchise out of Rochester in 1978, enabling them to sell all types of waterbeds, including name-brand furniture and accessories.

A year later, they opened a second Waterbed World franchise in Summit Park Mall in Niagara Falls. They had 45 complete flotation bedroom suites on display there.

The decision was made in 1986 to terminate the Waterbed World franchise and change the name to Waterbed Professionals.

In 1995 they began offering all types of sleeping surfaces, including name-brand mattresses, memory foam, latex, and adjustable air beds, along with waterbeds.

In 1996 they changed the store name to The Bed Room, as they were offering more than just waterbeds.

“We were the first retail outlet in Genesee County to offer Tempur-Pedic products,” VanValkenburg said.

By 2015, the mattress industry had begun to veer in a different direction, and it wasn’t positive, he said.

Looking for a 'Different Niche'

“We had to look for a new and different niche,” VanValkenburg said. “In 2016 I was having some health issues and my doctor suggested floating. I had no idea what he was talking about. I found a float center in Rochester and made an appointment. After my first floating experience, I felt great. I had no pain and no stress. I came back and told my partner that I think I had found our new niche.”

VanValkenburg and Buckel began to investigate the flotation industry and monitored the progress for a full year. It was on the upswing, as float centers were popping up all over the country and in Europe, VanValkenburg said.

In 2018, they closed The Bed Room and began construction of their new Float Center.

They opened for business in May 2019, and had been in business less than a year when COVID-19 shuttered the enterprise. Business is slowly returning, and they are booked into May, VanValkenburg noted.

“Over the last six decades our family has had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and make long lasting friendships,” VanValkenburg said. 

His father died 10 years ago and his mother a year ago.

Until a buyer comes along, VanValkenburg said they will be open for business as usual. In spite of the changes made to comply with restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, business is good, he said.

Previously: Video: Ribbon cutting, Rest & Revive Float Center, Batavia, NY

Photo by Howard Owens.

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Video: Ribbon cutting, Rest & Revive Float Center, Batavia, NY

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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One of Batavia's newest businesses held a ribbon cutting on Thursday with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce -- the  Rest & Revive Float Center at 596 E. Main St.

Partners Gary VanValkenburg and Brandon Buckle converted the former location of The Bed Room, where they sold beds, into a place where people can come and float in water field with epsom salts to help them relax and deal with any number of different health issues.

To find out more, watch the video.

BDC grants $30K loan to Rest & Revive Float Center partners

By Mike Pettinella


The Batavia Development Corporation has decided to “float” a loan to a longtime Batavia businessman who believes he has tapped into the next big thing in healthy relaxation methods.

At its meeting this morning at the City Centre, BDC board members voted unanimously to extend a $30,000 loan to Gary VanValkenburg and his partner, Brandon Buckle, (left to right in photo above), toward the opening of Rest & Revive Float Center at 596 E. Main St.

The site of the new business, which VanValkenburg said he expects to open around Dec. 1, was most recently known as The Bed Room.

In fact, VanValkenburg has been in the bedding business – waterbeds and conventional mattresses – for close to 45 years, following an 11-year stint selling television sets.

He told the BDC board that the bedding business is difficult these days – “everybody is selling mattresses,” he said – and that he realized it was time to find his “niche.”

After being introduced to the “float tank” concept by a visiting professional violinist about three years ago, VanValkenburg said he did some research and is confident in the product’s strength.

“I found a niche. It is on the up curve,” he said. “Over the last three years, (sales) are up by 25 percent. More and more float centers are popping up all over the place.”

VanValkenburg said his center will feature three float tanks – a 4-foot by 8-foot tank, another in a float room and a float pod. He said they are filled with about 10 to 12 inches of water and 800 pounds of Epsom salt.

“You can’t sink,” he said. “It’s more dense than the Dead Sea.”

He explained that users take a shower (a shower is next to each tank) before entering the tank for (usually) 90 minutes and afterward. The tank can be used with the lid open or closed, in a dark room or lit room and with or without music.

“I have arthritis and I tried it, and there was no pain (afterward),” he said. “And it lasted for four, five, six days. It is therapeutic and because there is no gravity, it’s like you’re up on a cloud. It totally relaxes you.”

VanValkenburg said the therapy can help alleviate arthritis, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches and other conditions, and could even benefit those with autism.

Buckle said the tanks are sanitary.

“The amount of salt in the tanks makes it a hostile environment for pathogens,” he said. “As far as bacteria, you don’t have to worry about that.”

He said that the tanks are cleaned for 30 minutes after each use, and are on a regular schedule for deep cleaning and maintenance. Each unit has its own ozone generator, he added.

Buckle said there will be a retail component to the business as well in the form of float beds and other health-related products.

The business partners also have secured a $225,000 loan from Tompkins Bank of Castile and a $100,000 loan from Genesee County Economic Development Center to cover the total cost of the project, VanValkenburg said. The BDC loan is for five years with a 4-percent interest rate.

VanValkenburg said the center will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He said the fee to use a tank is $65 but discounts will be available for Rest & Revive members.

In other developments, the BDC board:

-- Reluctantly accepted the resignation of Treasurer Mary Valle, who will be stepping down immediately due to a “conflict of interest.”

Valle said that she, as owner of Valle Jewelers on Jackson Street, and her children, who own the building at the west corner of Ellicott Street and Liberty Streets, plan to apply for some of the available Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds to expand their business ventures.

-- Voted to change the corporation’s designation from 501(c)(4) to 501(c)(3) to make it easier to accept charitable contributions, especially land donations.

-- Authorized President Pier Cipollone and Director Rachael Tabelski as authorized signers to expedite proceedings relating to the Ellicott Station project.

Tabelski said the BDC is communicating with Savarino Companies of Buffalo on a regular basis, but would not say when ground would be broken on the development.

“Every day we gain momentum as each piece is finalized,” she said.

-- Voted to reformat and expand the Building Improvement Handbook for the DRI Building Improvement Fund at a cost of no more than $3,300. Tabelski said the cost is reimbursable through the DRI.

-- Expects the City of Batavia’s commitment of $15,000 to fund Phase II environmental work at the Creek Park site (behind Falleti Ice Arena) to be transferred soon.

The goal, Cipollone said, is to consolidate three existing parcels – one owned by the City, one owned by Genesee County, and one owned by the Town of Batavia – into one property that can be offered to potential developers.

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