Two years ago, Restoration Hardware got some media attention for putting out a 5.5 pound, almost 1000-page-long “Source Book,” which is effectively a catalog. Maybe they want even more attention this year, which is why they’ve dispatched UPS to dump 17 pounds of catalogs on customers’ doorsteps.
Reader Colby was the first to report the existence of this massive conglomeration of catalogs. “They’ve outdone themselves. This is an environmental crime,” he wrote. “They should be ashamed.”
Gabriela received the catalog pack, too. “I could barely pick it up,” she said. She says that she e-mailed us from a couch purchased at Restoration Hardware, but was very unhappy with this mass mailing. On Facebook, she rallied others to deliver their catalog stacks at local stores to demonstrate their displeasure. “I realize some companies will continue advertising through print,” she writes, “but at least you can stomach a few pages in your mailbox.” 17 pounds sent by UPS? That makes phone books look eco-friendly by comparison.
When you visit Restoration Hardware’s website, they go to some significant trouble to explain how their catalog-blasting initiative is totally not an environmental crime. The paper used comes from sustainable forests, they explain, and they’ve purchased carbon offsets to make up for the number of miles driven to deliver these catalogs to customers’ recycling bins.
The more important question is this: why is Restoration Hardware mailing massive stacks of catalogs to anyone? Their site explains:
OUR COLLECTION OF SOURCE BOOKS IS MAILED ONCE A YEAR.
OUR 13 SOURCE BOOKS ARE PUBLISHED JUST ONCE A YEAR AND SHIPPED IN A SINGLE PACKAGE. THESE BOOKS SERVE AS A DESIGN LIBRARY FOR CUSTOMERS TO REFERENCE FOR INSPIRATION THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
Look, Restoration Hardware, we don’t need you to mail us a “design library.” Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?
Restoration Hardware is sort of like Pottery Barn for the 1%, and these catalogs seem to be part of their current effort to reach even more, wealthier customers. Racked reports that the company is also building ever-larger and fancier storefronts that will feel more like museums than home goods stores. The one in Boston is a 40,000-foot space in a former museum of natural history.
Of course, none of this explains why they can’t make the massive catalog piles opt-in. We contacted Restoration Hardware to ask what on earth they were thinking, and whether they’ve considered maybe making these catalogs opt-in.