By Gary Friedman
Chairman & CEO
There is a growing belief in our industry that physical stores have become a liability, and the growth of online is killing traditional retail. It’s spawned a widespread movement to downsize, rightsize, and optimize retail footprints. Leading many to declare “The Death of Retail.”
While the web has shined a bright light on the dull and decaying stones that are dying from old age and a lack of innovation, we believe history will demonstrate that the physical manifestation of a brand will prove to be the most compelling and cost effective way to engage and inspire customers in a physical world.
Many who report on retail’s imminent death are overlooking the obvious. We are physical and social creatures. It’s why we still go to theaters to watch movies, concerts to listen to music, ballparks to see a game, casinos to place a bet and restaurants to grab a bite. We don’t believe “bucket lists” of the future will be filled with lonely online activities, with or without AI, AR or VR. We look forward to experiencing new restaurants and resorts, plazas and parks, markets and malls, stadiums and yes, stores.
The ideas of the future don’t exist in the past, and neither do the stores of the future. I believe we are witnessing the lost decade of retail. Where the vast majority of capital in our industry has been allocated to online initiatives, while stores are left to rot. The truth is, most retail stores are archaic, windowless boxes that lack any sense of humanity. There’s no fresh air or natural light, plants die in a department store, and I’m sure it’s not the best environment for humans either.
That’s why we don’t build retail stores. We create inspiring spaces that blur the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors. Spaces that are more home than store. Spaces are filled with fresh air and natural light, with garden courtyards, rooftop parks, restaurants, wine vaults and barista bars. Spaces that are an integration of food, wine, art and design. Spaces that activate all of the senses that cannot be replicated online.
With a contemporary steel-and-glass structure rising up five floors through the original historic brick façade, RH New York, The Gallery in the Historic Meatpacking District, featured on the cover of this source book, is an example of our most recent efforts to revolutionize physical retailing. Designed by Jim Gillam of the award-winning architectural firm Backen, Gillam & Kroeger and located on what is becoming one of the most iconic corners in the city, the 90,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space is connected by a soaring central atrium with stacked cast iron columns. A glass elevator transports you up to a rooftop restaurant with retractable walls and pleached London Plane trees with sculpted Japanese boxwood that seamlessly flow out to the rooftop ark with views of downtown and Freedom Tower. The grand staircase houses the immersive art installation “New York Night” by Los Angeles-based artist and designer Alison Berger. The Gallery also features a Barista Bar & Outdoor Wine Terrace, full floors of RH Interiors, Modern, Outdoor, Baby & Child and Teen, plus our first RH Interior Design Firm embedded into one of our Galleries.
We spent the better part of five years trying to create the most innovative retail experience in the world, in the most important city in the world.
Come see for yourself, why we believe, The Death of Retail is Overrated.