RH delivers a 17-pound catalog

Formerly known as Restoration Hardware, the company now wants to become a luxury brand and calls its hulking tomes 'source books.'

By MSN Money Partner Jun 3, 2014 12:47PM
Credit: © Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Caption: Restoration Hardware storefrontBy Susan Berfield, Businessweek

If you received an unexpected package from RH (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 (UPS) 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 (TWTR) after receiving a special delivery:

More from Businessweek

Jun 3, 2014 1:24PM
I used to love to shop there, but now it has become so expensive and a lot of the furniture is semi weird, that I no longer even go into the store. I guess they are trying to reach the 1% only market.
Jun 3, 2014 2:10PM
It looks like they are trying to divert business away from professional designers by selling 'packages' to the public.

I have received this 'source book' and it went immediately into recycling.

Jun 3, 2014 4:28PM
It was a much better company when they sold replacement knobs and handles, plus some reasonable furniture selections with nice leather or fabric, neat lighting solutions, and wall acoutrements.  Then they were sold to some hipster entrepreneur who replaced this with a lot more boutique and one-of-a-kind finds, and hardly anything to me looks accessible or is affordable.  I used to save their catalogs, now I can't imagine what would fill up a catalog with all that bulk.
Jun 3, 2014 7:15PM
bought some carbon off sets to minimize the methane being produced by the cows, which produce fertilizer for the corn, which is used to create ethanol, to save on petroleum consumption, which China buys for its ever growing petroleum fuel demand, which stimulates the need for electric cars, which use Lithium-ion batteries, that end up in landfills oozing lead acid into the water supply, which gets turned into an EPA superfund clean up sight that requires lots of diesel fuel powered machines, which require the creation of some carbon offsets, so the power company builds wind turbines, which kill all the birds in their area but create carbon offsets for the cows which will probably turn into a nice RH sofa and ottoman chair.
Jun 3, 2014 6:14PM
This 'sustainable' term is crap.  All forests are sustainable.  You cut down  big trees, and then you replant new seedling trees.  Then they grow into big trees.  And then you cut down the big tree....etc, etc, etc./
Jun 3, 2014 5:27PM
I'll be happy to sell you some "certified" carbon offsets along with some magic beans.
Jun 3, 2014 1:26PM
"Forest Certified" What a Crock !  Just wait until obama's EPA hears of this ! You people are doomed !
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