Restoration Hardware draws fire for mailing 17-pound catalog bundles to consumers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Luxury retailer Restoration Hardware has been drawing fire for mailing a 17-pound bundle of catalogs to millions of people who never asked for it. Critics call it a colossal waste of natural resources. The company is betting it will get consumers' attention.

Mountain View resident Cynthia Marshall thought the surprise UPS delivered to her door was a gift -- it wasn't. It was one of the famously huge home furnishing catalogs.

Marshall calls it a waste of paper, fuel, and water, echoing critics across social media.

Nobody seems to want the 3,300-page, 13-book catalogs that Restoration Hardware has been dropping on doorsteps across the country.

Marshall threw hers in the trash. Others have brought them back to the store, including one group that returned 100 bundles to the Restoration Hardware store in Palo Alto.

Friday Apaliski of San Francisco's Department of Environment works to stop unwanted mailings. She says catalogs pose a problem for our recycling system.

Ironically, she received two of the bundles herself. "Cause of all people, I received it. Course, then I had to explain that I received it twice," she said.

At the Recology Recycling Center, the catalogs are flowing in -- so heavy they need a special conveyor.

When asked if the hefty catalogs will help sales, consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says that, good or bad, it's created extraordinary buzz.

"It certainly makes people stop and pay attention, and that's really what they wanted," Yarrow said. "That people are talking about a catalog is big."

Restoration Hardware did not provide a statement, pointing instead to CEO Gary Friedman's quarterly report to investors.

"No one has an offering that is remotely comparable," Friedman said in the report. "Our Source Books are an important part of our multi-channel, go-to-market strategy and cannot be replaced by the Internet, where the smallest retailer in the world can look as dominant as the largest retailer, and it would require a customer to click 10,000 times to understand the difference."

The stack of catalogs the company delivered includes a notice saying that it is committed to preserving the planet. Many have mocked this claim, but the retailer said it ships the catalogs just once a year to save fuel, uses paper from sustainable forests, and buys carbon offsets through UPS.
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