January 09, 2003

Hardware of the Rich and

Hardware of the Rich and Famous

My girlfriend works at a St. Paul Restoration Hardware outlet. Now, normally, the term "hardware" conjures images of handheld drills and circular saws and bins upon bins of nails, screws, nuts and bolts. Not so at Restoration Hardware. When I first followed my girlfriend into her place of work, I was taken aback by the staggering amounts of non-hardware crap for sale. Could I interest you in a Lomo Russian Camera?

I'm not bashing my girlfriend's line of work. Not at all. I'm mostly perturbed at the class distinction inherent in places like Restoration Hardware. It's the hardware store for people who are too good for Home Depot or Menards. Granted, Restoration does keep paint in stock and there are other items that could, theoretically, be considered hardware items. Perhaps a Digital Recording Tape Measure? Let's be honest, if you're enough of a yuppy to need a digital recording of your voice to note measurements, instead of a trusty pencil and paper, you probably have no business trying your hand at home improvement. Thankfully, Restoration also offers a German Tape Measure, for no apparent reason except to offer a German Tape Measure. Use it to see how low or heil your pictures should be hung. To be on the safe side, if you find yourself using either of these tape measures, you should also have Restoration's Pocket Medic First-Aid Kit on hand.

Ordinary Joes like me must rely on Ace Hardware for all our tool needs. But, if you're in a higher tax bracket, you can peruse Restoration Hardware for anything from furniture to Dog Bookends or Brooklyn Bridge Bookends. Sheesh, say that fast 10 times.

I'm somewhat kidding, of course. I realize that Restoration Hardware doesn't promote itself as a genuine hardware store. It openly embraces those with kitschy tastes. After all, only the Cleavers could truly find a use for The Family Band. If I remember my childhood correctly, and my particularly hyperactive self, I'm fairly certain The Family Band would find itself hopelessly scattered througout the house, and The Family Dog would have chewed the maracas into splinters within hours.

I really can't poke too much fun here, primarily because one of the nicest Christmas gifts I received this year came from Restoration Hardware. Okay, truth be told, virtually every gift from the girlfriend came from Restoration Hardware, due primarily to her 40 percent employee discount. Still, The Ultimate Game Box is probably the best chess board I've ever owned, even though you could probably find a much cheaper version at any number of less pretentious game shops.

Melissa has a sense of humor about Restoration Hardware, which is a good thing because I always make fun of it. But even she doesn't really fit in there. As a visual display designer, or whatever the hell her title is, she doesn't have to deal with customers, which she admittedly detests doing. That task is left to her co-workers, an impossibly coifed lot of women who probably spend eight hours in front of the mirror preparing for their work day. This is in major contrast to Melissa, who doesn't wear make-up and shows up 20 minutes late every day because she, like me, likes to sleep until the very last possible minute.

Still, I encourage everyone to visit the Restoration Hardware Web site and peruse their offerings, if for no other reason but to get a really good laugh.

Posted by Ryan at January 9, 2003 11:04 AM
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