That Thud on Your Doorstep? RH's 17-Pound Catalogby
If you received an unexpected package from RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, be sure to remember to lift with your legs, not your back. The 17-pound delivery includes 13 different catalogs totaling about 3,300 pages. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask a United Parcel Service driver—they had to deliver these monsters to your neighbors.)
Worried about the environmental impact of shipping millions of pounds of paper to unsuspecting customers? Rest assured that sending out reams of paper that outweigh a bowling ball is all in keeping with the company’s sustainability initiative. 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.
Gary Friedman, the chairman, chief executive, creator, and curator of RH, has an ambitious plan to turn the company into a luxury brand. He wants to build 60 or 70 enormous stores with wine bars and restaurants, performance spaces, courtyards, and rooftop gardens. Friedman calls them “design galleries.”
And he has a new term for these massive catalogs: “source books.” Friedman sees them as an important part of the company’s marketing efforts, released once each year and meant to serve as a design library until the next weighty batch arrives.
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.
That’s not likely to inspire confidence in the Los Angeles resident who took to Twitter after receiving a special delivery: