We used to shop at a store called Restoration Hardware. Contrary to its name, it is not a hardware store in the customary sense of the term. For those of you in the United States, you will remember when it was fun to poke around that store, with its fun little gadgets and toys. Restoration Hardware also had beautiful furniture and lamps. In fact, we still have quite a few lamps we purchased from them. Though most of the couches were too deep for our small frames, we used to drool over their bedroom sets with their gorgeous dressers whose drawers were lined with fragrant cedar. We could see those sets in our bedroom and thought one day we might try to save up for one, pricey as they were.
Then last year or the year before, Restoration Hardware made a drastic change in their merchandise. Gone were those cute little gadgets and toys, except during Christmas. The furniture no longer was something we envisioned in our home. The pieces were massive and seemed more appropriate for a scene in Indiana Jones or a stop on the Orient Express. The bright and cheery interior had been whisked away, and something dark and cave-like had replaced it. We stopped going there, and other people we talked to who used to frequent that store stopped going as well, for the same reasons. A few months ago, the only Restoration Hardware store in south Hampton Roads closed.
Friday, when I went to get the mail, I found two Restoration Hardware catalogues crammed into our mailbox. They were huge and slick. How many trees, we wondered, had been destroyed in the making? As costly and as impressive as those catalogues are, they would never induce me to even visit Restoration again. If anything, they remind me of why I stopped going in the first place. They no longer sell anything I would ever want to buy or could afford. They stopped catering to the ordinary middle class customer.
On the other hand, I went to Stein Mart Saturday and bought a pair of pantyhose and a leather travel case for my medications.
When I got home and reached into my shopping bag, I found a note from Jay Stein himself, thanking me for shopping in his store.
Big fancy catalogues and massive furniture don’t impress me. It’s the little things that count, like remembering who your customers are. Thank you, Jay Stein.