Retailing Deathmatch: Restoration Hardware vs. Rejuvenation

RH Modern: Jonathan Browning Chandelier $3,695 cribbed from Browning trade-only model at ~$15,000.

RH Modern: Jonathan Browning Chandelier $3,695 cribbed from Browning trade-only model at ~$15,000.

Expo and the Great Indoors whetted our appetites for cool kitchen and bathroom showrooms we mightn’t have been able to afford, but could crib ideas from.  Their bankruptcies left a hole in our collective Sunday afternoons. Even at a fraction of their size, Capital Distributing and Perch sate our inner renovation voyeur.

In the meantime we also saw Restoration Hardware, always more tease than happy ending given that much of the “good stuff” isn’t in stores but ordered blindly via their catalog. Then last summer came RH Modern, a new line moving away from their chipped-paint-chic and weathered, splinter-friendly wood comfort zone and into the realm of reinterpreted midcentury modern and “reclaimed” vs. “antique” wood.  RH Modern seems to compete with Mitchell Gold, Bob Williams. Of course the tease continues with just one free-standing RH Modern store in Los Angeles, (natch) and some dedicated space in NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Tampa and Austin that parcel out a teensy weensy portion of the 300-page, mailbox-bending catalog.

Admission: I don’t think I’ve ever spent a dime at a full-priced Restoration Hardware.  But I’ve spent thousands at the outlet stores for bathroom mirrors, lighting and accessories … the things only seen online or in the catalog.

Enter Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation Miss Kitty 1

Rejuvenation is one of those businesses that started because one guy needed something he couldn’t find.  Jim Kelly bought a dilapidated saloon in Portland, Oregon in 1975 for $1,000 (making him a millionaire today on its own) and found that period lighting and hardware were impossible to find.  Being enterprising, he opened a salvage store for people to buy architectural salvage he scouted the city for.  Demand outstripped supply so Kelly decided to begin manufacturing reproductions.  After decades of expansion, in 2011, Williams-Sonoma bought Kelly out and added Rejuvenation to its stable of brands that includes Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Mark & Graham.

Unlike most of the retail world today where everything “one of a kind” is stacked 10-stories high on a container ship from China, Rejuvenation has an 87,000-square-foot factory and offices in Portland. I’m not saying everything is manufactured there, but most lighting does.

Everyone has an Eames chair, but who has an original Eames leg splint from WWII? $960

Everyone has an Eames chair, but who has an original Eames leg splint from WWII? $960

Given the retail model of Williams-Sonoma, expansion beyond Portland was a given.  Today, in addition to Portland, there are stores in Atlanta, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Seattle.  A 6,000-square-foot location will open in Chicago this autumn.  Now that they’ve crossed the Rocky Mountains, can Texas be far off?

Rejuvenation Swanky 1

Rejuvenation’s designs, like Restoration Hardware, cover the eras between the Revolutionary War to mid-century modern.

Unlike Restoration Hardware, Rejuvenation has a vintage section that traces the company’s salvage roots with items scoured from antique dealers and architectural salvage yards across the country.

Hook this 1930s “knife switch” for the electric chair look. $35.

Hook this 1930s “knife switch” for the electric chair look. $35.

Dallas would be a ripe market for Rejuvenation.  Since many who would move have nowhere to go, improving the home you have is taking center stage.  Also, increased home values give owners more comfort spending money on home improvement (the flip-side of increased property taxes).

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University forecast that remodeling spending is set to increase 8.6 percent from 2015 and hit $310 billion nationwide in 2016; perhaps reaching $325 billion in 2017.

Let’s see how long it takes for Dallas to be Rejuvenated … in the meantime, we can pass our time and dollars online.

Winner Slug v1

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.