Friday, June 06, 2014

Hey, Restoration Hardware, CEASE AND DESIST already

For years, I was driven mad – mad, I say – by the regular appearance on the doorstep of our building of mounds of White Pages and Yellow Pages that nobody in our building seemed to want, even for use as doorstops or emergency toilet paper, in case there’s ever a shortage.

So, for years, when the shrink wrapped stacks of White and Yellow pages tomes would appear on our doorstep, I would lug them into the foyer, leave them there for a week or so, then set them out for recycle.

If nothing else, it was good exercise, even though I did consider hiring a backhoe or dump truck a couple of times, to assist me in hauling the waste from front stoop to out back, where the trash pickup happens.

The White Pages and Yellow Pages glut, while it hasn’t disappeared, has somewhat abated over the years. The books have shrunk in size, and Verizon doesn’t seem so hell bent on so widely distributing them, either. (Seriously, when was the last time anyone you know looked up a number in the White Pages? Or let their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages?)

But now there’s another organization that’s picking up the Verizon mantle, delivering landfills worth of catalogs. And that would be Restoration Hardware, or RH, as they’re now known, having decided to pare down their name while pumping up the volume on the materials they send out.

I am, blessedly, not on the RH hit list, but others who have, at one point of another, lived in this building, sure are.

Thus, a couple of weeks ago, two 17 pound, shrink-wrapped collections of catalogs showed up on our doorstep. (With an array of catalogs that weighs as much as a small anvil, it’s nice to know that RH is still keeping the hardware in their “H.”)

One of the collections that arrived was addressed to Lars, who moved out nine years ago; the other to Megan, who’s been gone a lot longer than that.

I will admit that I unshrink-wrapped the Lars delivery and extracted – from the dozen or so sub-catalogs contained within – the Small Spaces, Bath, Interior, and Lighting editions. While, taken as a whole, I find RH overwhelmingly monotonous, pretentious, and just plain silly, at the micro level I like some of their stuff. And as I’m looking to do some home improvements around my personal Small Spaces, Bath, Interior, and Lighting, I was sort of interested in what they have on offer. Of course, this was a month ago, and I haven’t cracked the spine on any of these catalogs yet, but there’s always tomorrow. And my Small Space, Bath, Interior, and Lighting restoration needs aren’t going anywhere. (Much as I would like for someone to come in, take charge, fix everything that needs fixing, improve everything that needs improving, restore everything that needs restoring, and wake me when it’s over…)

What I didn’t set aside were Outdoor, Upholstery, Leather, Furniture, Rugs, Linen, and Objects of Curiosity.

Since a couple more of these collections showed up the other day, I did pull out Objects of Curiosity from Sarah’s (gone at least five years). I thought it might make for good Small Space, Bath reading, but, on first glance, I don’t think I’ll be the market for an 1890s Stag Head ($345) or a Vintage Wallpaper Factory Bar Cart ($1,895). I have enough Objects of Curiosity of my own, already. Thanks  just the same…

The real Object of Curiosity is who buys this stuff? Me, I liked RH better when they sold stocking stuffers.

Business Week – among others – picked up on this latest catalogue initiative on RH’s part. BW reported that RH considers the catalogs “source books” that us wannabe designers will hang onto as a “design library”.

RH declined to share the number of catalogs it mailed. The company did want to remind us that we used to receive its catalogs much more frequently. Its 2013 annual report states that RH’s advertising costs were $83 million, much of that spent on its catalogs. RH’s capitalized catalog costs were $49.3 million. (Source: Business Week)

I’d like to know how many of those catalogs actually reach the intended. If my building is an indication, not many…

One of the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the environmental impact of sending out 17 pounds worth of unwanted “wish books.” Not to worry. RH likes to think of itself as a sustainable kind of luxury retailer.

All the paper is “forest certified,” according to RH, which means that it comes from sustainable sources. Rest assured that the retailer is part of something called the Verso Forest Certification Grant Program. And guess what? All of the shipping is carbon neutral, thanks to a special UPS program that purchases certified carbon offsets on behalf of the company.


Sure makes me feel better. How about you?

Meanwhile, of the four RH shipments that have arrived chez moi – “There are pieces that furnish a home. And those that define it.” – only one has been addressed to someone who actually lives here.

That would be Taylor.

Taylor just had her third birthday, and next time I see her I’ll be asking whether there’s anything in the Objects of Curiosity that she has her eye on.

Maybe that collection of German carnival noses (“skillfully reproduced from turn of the century German carnival molds”) – a steal at $295.

No comments: