Restoration Hardware Goes Big …Really Big

For one specialty retailer, bigger is definitely better when it comes to their catalog. Forget slim jims and other micro catalog trends; for Restoration Hardware, they are going big when it comes to your home.

“Weighing in at a whopping 12 pounds each, UPS packages containing Restoration Hardware’s annual catalogs have landed with a thud on doorsteps around the country over the last several weeks,” writes CNBC’s John Jannarone.

“The 3,300 pages of the so-called source books feature everything from ‘salvaged wood’ dining tables to reproductions of 19th-century Italian gas streetlights,” Jannarone continues.

At a time when many companies are scaling back on their mailings — either in size of the book or in mailing volume or both — Restoration Hardware believes that their customers benefit by being able to grasp the vastness of the company’s product selection in print.

“Our source books … cannot yet be replaced by the Internet,” CEO Gary Friedman said on an investor call earlier this week, the CNBC article notes.

The company sent its first catalog just 13 years ago, a modest 84-pager. Since then, they have steadily increased the size of their print offering. And for them, it’s the smart thing to do.

“Restoration Hardware has unique characteristics that help explain its unusual strategy,” explains Jannarone.

“The company has thousands of products available, but most of the time they can’t be picked up in stores. Instead, it has adopted a showroom model where it occupies large spaces and displays as many pieces as possible without keeping any inventory for sale. Similarly, a chunky catalog gives customers a way to browse the vast majority of Restoration Hardware’s products and then buy at their leisure.”

(And to those critics who may be crying foul from an environmental perspective, the company has a proven track record of supporting sustainability in the paper industry.)

So does their “big book” strategy work?

“Restoration Hardware is one the few retail stocks to perform well in 2014. The stock has risen 20 percent so far this year, far outpacing the broader market,” Jannarone notes.

Who are we to argue with success like that?