Feeling Nostalgic? Try Restoration Hardware!
Written: Dec 27, 2002 (Updated Nov 8, 2004)
Feeling nostalgic? Then try Restoration Hardware. They have lots of vintage reproductions that will take you back to your youth - whether that occurred in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s.
The merchandise line is similar to Pottery Barn but not as broad. They carry furniture, bedding, towels, lots of accessories, house cleaning supplies, gardening and outdoor items, lighting, rugs and curtains.
True to their name, they also carry hardware such as knobs, hinges, mailboxes, house numbers, hammers and other implements of destruction. This is not a true hardware store however, and most of these items are decorative rather than functional.
A lot of the merchandise carried by Restoration Hardware are reproductions based on models used years ago. For example, there is a record player based on a 50s design for $150 and a vintage-style radio (that also plays cds) for $150. They may be the only source for 45s (five rock and roll platters for $16). They also have a black phone with cord based on a 40s model for $99.
The furniture and lighting are also mostly based on mid-century designs. There are a lot of mission style furnishings.
The quality of the merchandise varies with the vendor. I have been happy with everything that I have purchased from either the store or the online site. The furniture is not terribly sturdy or well-made. In my opinion, it is overpriced for the quality so I have never purchased any furniture. I did buy a rug on sale and was very pleased. I have also bought several small accessories and have enjoyed all of those items. They have lots of great small gifts and stocking stuffers for under $20.
Some of their merchandise is only available through the catalog or web site. Other merchandise seems to only be available in the store.
HOW TO GET YOUR HANDS ON THE MERCHANDISE
This company has 3 options. There are brick and mortar stores. They have a catalog and you can call their toll-free line (sign up for a free catalog on the web site). You can also shop directly on the web site at www.restorationhardware.com.
WEB SITE OPERATION
The web site works well and is well organized. It loads quickly. Finding merchandise is intuitive. My only gripe is that they only show a few items per page. I wish there was a "view all" section.
If you have items in your cart and are not signed in as a member, the items will disappear from your cart if you leave the site or sign off or, in my case, AOL crashes and you lose your connection. It can be frustrating to have to go back and reshop.
EASE OF ORDERING
I was disappointed with my experience. I ordered through an option where you did not have to sign in or "register." I know I have an account set up with them because I get an occasional e-mail, however I can't remember the password I had to think of 18 months ago when I last signed in. There was an option to have the company e-mail my password, but I was afraid that if I left the site, the items in my shopping cart would disappear, so I just forged ahead without signing in.
The registration process required me to provide my address. Then, at the next screen I had to select a shipping address. They did not have an address on file and it did not forward from the previous screen, so I had to retype the exact same information.
The rest of the ordering process went smoothly. However, I did not get a confirming e-mail that most e-tailers send after you order. I also did not get one that said the merchandise was shipped.
They are not very free with this information and I had to dig around the site to find it. It would be much more convenient to have it on the page where your shipping is determined. The shipping costs are high.
Delivery Charges per address for orders totaling:
Up to $15.00 $4.95
$15.01 to $25.00 $6.00
$25.01 to $45.00 $8.00
$45.01 to $65.00 $11.00
$65.01 to $90.00 $14.00
$90.01 to $125.00 $17.00
$125.01 to $200.00 $21.00
$200.01 and over 10% of merchandise total
Canadian orders 30% of merchandise total
These shipping charges are for ground shipping. This means you could wait almost 2 weeks for your items. A lot of the big items, including all of the furniture, are shipped directly from the manufacturer. The web site says that these items can take 6-8 weeks to be delivered.
In my experience, small items that the stores carry arrive in less than two weeks. However, the items shipped from the manufacturer take up to three weeks. I have never waited more than four weeks.
All items that I have received have been well-packed. There is a lot of padding and the box is well-secured. There is a receipt with clear information on returns. I have never had to return anything.
STEALS AND DEALS
You can sign up on the web site for e-mails from the company. I just got once recently that offered a 20% discount the week before Christmas, although discount e-mails are rare.
Restoration Hardware has lots of fun merchandise. There is a lot to buy for under $20 as well as much more expensive furnishings.
You need to give up some privacy and sign in to this site. If you don't sign in, they don't save your shopping cart, send you a confirmation of your order or preserve any of your information. I don't really agree with that approach, but it is the only way to have a good online experience with Restoration Hardware.
DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP ON THE INTERNET? HERE ARE SOME MORE REVIEWS OF WEB STORES:
Clothing and Accessories: Talbots; The Gap; CWD Kids; Hanna Andersson; J. Jill; Tote Le Monde ; Blu Pyxie ; Miniboden; One Hanes Place; Nordstrom; Gymboree; Simple Shoes; Sierra Blue; Ebags.
Clothing and Home Goods: Lands End; Bluefly; Soft Surroundings; Garnet Hill; Sundance; L.L. Bean.
Home and Garden: Smith & Noble; Gardeners Supply Company; Unicahome; Homeclick; FaucetDirect; Gardens Alive; West Elm; Crate & Barrel; MyKnobs; CB2.
Books and Magazines: Amazon.com; ValueMags; Magazine Values; Dover Publications.
Office Supplies, Furniture and Services: Staples; Officemax; Topdeq; Efax.
Electronics: HP Shopping; Buy.com.
Travel: Amtrak; Hotwire; Orbitz; Hotels.com.
Discount: Overstock.com; Target.
Photo Developing: Shutterfly; Snapfish.
Baby Stuff: Babystyle; Babys Here Birth Announcements; Baby Universe; SoZo.
Miscellaneous: 1-800 contacts; Movie Tickets.com; Drugstore.com.
Rebate Sites: Upromise; Ebates.