Tuesday, June 10

Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks

There are only a few things in life that I look forward to getting in the mailbox, the snail-mailbox that is.

Back in the day, it was People Magazine.  Couldn't wait to get it, couldn't put it down until I leafed through all the pages.

My how my tastes have changed, because it's no longer a magazine that captures my undivided attention but a catalog.

The Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks to be exact.  It some ways it's the modern-day J. C. Penney catalog, on steroids.

This year's "collection" is 13 books in total, each with its own reason for being whether to feature furniture, accessories, lighting, bedding, etc.  They are fabulous.  So much more impactful then browsing online and honestly even better than the retail experience because of the vast inventory featured.

But I have to say ... the books are big and they are heavy!  And they're printed on paper.  And they're snail-mailed.  Which is making a lot of people crazy.  For me, I want them and use them so it makes sense.  Not so much for others who are more casual shoppers of the brand.

At first blush, I actually grimaced a little bit myself at the thought of printing and mailing all of that heavy paper.  Having worked in the sustainability space for awhile now, it feels a little counter culture.  Maybe more than a little.  Social media took it on with a storm of protests and photographs, and I can see why.

Then I received an email from Restoration Hardware explaining why they mailed them in bulk all at once (carbon neutral shipping), and how they used responsibly-sourced paper.  This helps, but is it enough.

I think they get it.  And they anticipated my reaction and jumped ahead of what they knew people would say.  Smart move.  And because I'm a regular customer, they knew I'd buy something, which I eventually will!  For others, this may not have been enough.

The truth is that I could look at all of these items online, and in fact I often do when I see an item that I am truly interested in.  But when it comes to home decor, there simply isn't anything better than a catalog with big printed photography to help you dream through your own home environment.  The digital space just has not eclipsed that paper experience, not in home decor anyway.  At least not for me.

So is there a place for printed catalogs?  I believe so, when it's done right and when it's only sent to people like me who really want them and use them.  These particular Sourcebooks will be in my home where I will use them repeatedly as reference books until the new ones come out again next year.  They may not belong in every home, and those folks shouldn't receive them.

The key is not to print and send them to people who won't put them to use.

Back to the catalog ....

What's your experience?  JIM.

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