Restoration Hardware fails to get memo on massive catalog

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Remember when luxury retailer Restoration Hardware mailed out 17-pound catalogs to millions of people who didn't want them? It caused quite a backlash. Surely they won't do the same thing again, or would they? 7 On Your Side takes a look at what the company is up to now.

It was a bundle as big as a cinder block and some joked it could be used as furniture. Others said it was a colossal waste of natural resources. So you would think the company would pull back, but instead there is talk about putting out yet another giant catalog.

The bundle was delivered by UPS to doorsteps across the country and it contained 13 books with 3,300 glossy photos of luxury furniture at Restoration Hardware.

"They are going in the recycling toter," said Mountain View resident Cynthia Marshall.

"Paper is too precious. Trees are too precious for this kind of junk mailing," Woodside resident Nancy Reyering said.

When Reyering and her neighbors all got catalogs, they gathered them at her house. She said, "I had a literal ton of magazines on my front door step."

They piled them into trucks and wheeled them back to the store. Reyering hopes the retailer got the message.

7 On Your Side asked Restoration Hardware about all of the backlash against the giant catalogs. It did not respond.

However, in his latest address to investors, CEO Gary Friedman wasn't ruling out an even bigger catalog next year. He said, "We're questioning how much bigger the book can be, how much bigger the drop can be."

The retailer is expanding product lines and that could mean expanding the catalog. However, Friedman did acknowledge some folks didn't like all that marketing material. He said on the shareholders' call, "While the book being this big is a positive, that there is nothing like it and it breaks through and it's dominant, and so on and so forth, there is also a bit of an intimidation factor about the customers that didn't want it."

In fact, Friedman admitted even he got one on his doorstep and he hasn't read it either. "Listen, I run the company and my big set of books came and I was telling the team last night. I said, 'Look, it's sitting in my counter, in my kitchen, and I haven't even sat down and went through all the books yet because, you know, it's a lot."

Friedman said it took a huge effort to produce all those books. The printer built three extra machines just for this mailer.

He didn't mention the returned catalogs, the jokes about using them as stepstools, or all the folks who dumped them in the recycle bin, only how to do it better next year.

"I'm stupefied. I don't think he's in touch with reality," Reyering said.

Friedman did say he may try to condense the books and the company will try not to mail them to folks who say they don't want them.

Reyering says she's ready to organize another mass return if they do get them next year.
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