Rants

I LOVE my customers. 

I just had a customer named Danielle call me.  Danielle had been in a couple of weeks ago and we started talking about getting the perfect chaise sectional.  She wanted a very specific configuration that would allow her to sit both ways and have her back supported.  I said I could do it and she said she’d come back after figuring out exactly what she wanted.  She didn’t come back and I didn’t really think about it.  But then today she called me and said to please forgive her for not coming in but she had a death in the family which has occupied her and she’ll be in next week.  How amazing that even in BAD times someone thinks of giving an update to  a shopkeeper so they wouldn’t think you’d disappeared.  Mind you, I’m not encouraging customers feel obliged to keep me in the loop during bad times, but it’s just nice to think there’s people out there nice enough to be that ridiculously considerate.  Hurrah!

Restoration Hardware is shifting production of it’s fabric and leather collections to China. 

 They’re making easily 170% margins on furniture with Mitchell Gold building their stuff in NC.  But shifting production to China should mean margins go to something like 350%.  Till quality falls to pieces just like it did with the once venerable “Natuzzi” line you’ll find on deep discount at Macy’s and the  Kasala outlet.  I just don’t get how they can sacrifice the brand like that.  They can sing and dance all day about how the quality is just the same, but I just don’t think people will spend $4,500 on a leather sofa from the Xianpeng 3rd Industrial zone, no matter how stringent the quality control is.  Good move from a beancounting perspective.  But a truly unfathomable one from a marketing perspective.  Or an American perspective really.  It’ s not like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn haven’t thought of this idea.  I like to think that someone, somewhere, in those companies said you know what, no, let’s keep a few hundred jobs with people actually making something over here in the good ol’ USA.  Another one bites the dust… 

 

http://consumerist.com/5035693/restoration-hardware-shifting-nearly-all-of-its-furniture-production-to-china

 

On June 18, 2008 Restoration Hardware was de-listed from the NASDAQ and ceased to be a publicly traded company. They were bought by Catterton Partners, a private equity firm specializing in “middle market consumer companies.” They also own:

Outback Steakhouse
Archway
Breyers
Van’s

among many others.

Their “realized investments” (which I take to mean companies they bought, squeezed every drop of potential profitability from, then sold) include:

Build-A-Bear
PF Chang’s
Odwalla
Case Logic
Frederic Fekkai
Wellness Pet Foods

among others.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve been trying to find out where my two Brocade Home vases are — after having been lied to twice by customer service who claimed my vases were on the way. One of them even gave me a tracking number! (Brocade Home is a division of Restoration Hardware.)

Now the web site is completely gone and the customer service number merely plays a message saying they’re “in transition” and to call again another time.

It seems Catterton Partners are moving quickly to get their latest purchase on the “realized” list. These new owners do not care about the product or the customer experience. All they care about is maximizing profit for their private investors. Cutting Brocade Home off at the neck and moving all RESTO manufacturing to China is merely part of the plan, I’m sure.

 

Coors light rant

Have you guys been hearing those ads for the new Coors can with the vent.  The guys all tell their unlike-lily good looking girlfriends that they need to go vent and then off they go to drink “frost brewed” Coors.  I like it!  Building a national marketing strategy around the frat boy institution of shotgunning a beercan.  Coors, It’ll get you crunked!!  That’s innovation right there.  On a related note, does anyone have any ideas on what Gilette’s new flagship innovation will be?  I think they’re up to like four blades now.  And they vibrate!  Schick actually sued’em and won for their claim that the vibrations raised the hairs.  They don’t and they had to stop saying it.  I really don’t know where there is to go?  Five blades?  Ultrasonical hair killing rays?

 

So easy when it’s not my house!

So I just got a SCREAMING deal on a loft in Pioneer Square.  I signed the lease on sight and as I was sitting down with the landlord he got a call and a girl started crying/screaming when he told her it wasn’t on the market anymore.  16 foot ceilings– exposed brick EVERYWHERE– this is my dream place.  This is like the loft that studly dude in “Unfaithful” lived in.  It’s amazing.  And now I have to decide what I put in there.  I give people advice on the couch they need all the time.  It’s easy really.  I show people a bunch of pictures of couches and I can always tell which one they got the most excited about- even if they’re not sure themselves.  But now I have to build a couch for me and build a whole look around it.  It’s terrifying.  Do I do the cool,sleek, and masculine Italian look with a Ligne Roset Malhoun replica and a thick cream flokati shag rug.  Or do I go with a classic English roll arm and get a burgundy persian rug.  Is there a way to mix both styles.  It looks good in Domino magazine when they do the mis-match thing, but those guys are world class designers and I’m just a couchguy who’s seen a couple episodes of “Design Star” on HGTV.  The Ligne Roset Malhoun style looks better in a sectional which is nice for lounging in the corner of, and is hardly an eyesore  But I LOOOVE the feminine lines of the English roll arm and it would make for a really mature look.  The moral of the story here: Don’t get a nice space because your Ikea Malm bed and the couch your college buddy gave you when he left town will look so very out of place.  The other  moral: don’t listen to Couchguy.  Couchguy knows nothing!

UPDATE:  When I went to meet the Sears guys to have the washer/dryer installed in the loft I realized it smelled horribly of urine.  I wanted the urban charm of Pioneer Sq. But this was a little too charming and urban for me.  I pulled out of the lease and lost a months rent but feel I made the right decision for sure.

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