Edina Minnesota’s Restoration Hardware Mansion

Restoration Hardware Mansion in Edina | Image Credit: startribune.com
Restoration Hardware Mansion in Edina | Image Credit: startribune.com

A peek inside the opulent new three-story store and the concept behind it from the furnishings company.

What’s furniture castle?

Over the weekend, my adolescent and I went to the new RH shop in Edina as he had no choice but to go home and tidy his room. During the drive over, he lost himself in Snapchat and ignored my briefing of Restoration Hardware’s bold move to become a lifestyle brand and construct massive displays reminiscent of castles, while other well-known businesses are either closing their doors or going bankrupt. My kid, however, couldn’t help but glance up as we entered the three-level matte charcoal manse, with its enormous Grecian statues and white sofas so deep your feet won’t touch the floor. “Is this a store?”

RH CEO Gary Friedman at the new Edina store on opening day.
Image Credit: tcbmag.com

It is the shop that embodies visionary CEO Gary Friedman’s greatest hopes and convictions that modern retail must be a destination that wows customers. “We are transitioning from producing and marketing items to designing and marketing environments,” he stated to Forbes earlier in the year when the business, now known as RH, launched one of its megastores in the hip Meatpacking District of New York. They are called RH Galleries. RH Galleries may also be found in West Hollywood, West Palm Beach, Chicago, and Boston.

I would have personally asked Friedman about his approach, but I was not granted an interview. I was informed by a PR not to take it personally because Friedman was out of town and would not be conducting any interviews regarding the launch of his newest Edina shop.

Rooftop restaurant at RH in Edina.
Image Credit: tcbmag.com

This is in contrast to the Nordstrom brothers, who I remember interacting with visitors and meeting with media at the previous shop launch that prompted residents to dress in sequins, which was a few years ago for the inauguration of their Ridgedale Centre store. Friedman is the only RH employee that is permitted to communicate with the media, unlike other companies that are comparable in size and scope to RH and have marketing directors or directors of shops to take press calls.

Friedman did go to a glamorous opening night on Thursday, the kind of event that would make any local charity desire to host at their annual galas. As Friedman held court on a modular Italian linen sofa, attendees took pictures of him and trailed him about like a rock star. Which he kind of is in the tough world of today’s retail.

RH is a publicly listed business whose shares have increased by an astounding 28% so far this year. The firm has seen improvements over the last four quarters and is expected to generate $2.67 billion in sales this fiscal year. There are many who disagree with Friedman (see the previously referenced Forbes article) and believe that the speed and cost of developing superstores, or galleries, cannot continue. Some even go so far as to say that RH appears wealthier than it actually is because of intricate mathematical manipulation. People will turn out in large numbers for a big-name brand, judging by the queue that wrapped around the building for the opening celebration. Is it true that they will bring furniture home with them?

More than three times the size of the former Restoration Hardware shop across the street at the Galleria, the new RH Minneapolis is situated in the southwest corner of the Southdale Centre parking lot, spanning almost 60,000 square feet. RH provides its own valet parking, which costs $10 per car, even though it is bordered by surface parking spaces that are rarely full to the outside limits of the mall property these days.

The shop is large and laid out in a manner reminiscent of a mansion, with room after room of precisely matched living scenes. It can be difficult to distinguish between one enormous sofa and swivel chair and the next because of the severe absence of colour outside of grey, white, and metallics. The second story houses interior design consulting areas as well as the company’s more recent brand, RH Modern, which consists of comparable large-scale items with leaner forms and lower frames. (RH Teen is not offered at the Edina store; it is accessible online and in certain other areas.) The gem in the crown is the rooftop restaurant on the top level, which has a coffee bar, antique olive trees, centre fountains, glass walls and ceilings covered in crystal chandeliers, and outside lounging places. Entrees start at about $18 and go up to $30, with a $21 burger among them.

On a Sunday, even in the middle of a Vikings game, business at the restaurant and store was mild. Employees from RH appeared to be as numerous as patrons; they had a busy, important appearance, carrying iPads, wearing headgear, and whispering among themselves. A few people gave me tight grins and nods, but nobody inquired about my well-being or offered to help. I felt like I was being watched, that I had been labelled as someone who wasn’t interested in spending $16,000 on a sofa.

To be honest, compared to what one might anticipate from a regular furniture store, I witnessed more individuals taking pictures than measuring the depth of the sofa. However, isn’t that the main goal of developing an ideal lifestyle? Still, out of concern that I might be ejected, I swiftly slapped my son’s trainers off an ottoman. Just seconds after he got up to fluff the seat cushion, a RH colleague showed up.

I plan to return to RH, either for a sumptuous meal or some adult beverages on the rooftop deck, or even to draw attention from guests from outside the area, much as how tourists swarm RH in Chicago. Does that suffice? From its years at Galleria and on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, it is obvious that RH understands this market. Therefore, it must be certain that we will purchase enough $16,000 couches and $21 burgers to support this gigantic shop. And I really hope it is.

I worry about a day when leaving the house is limited to returning undesirable Amazon items to a locked vault. The deserted area in the heart of Southdale, the original home of the covered mall, saddens me. With RH, Smash Burger, a hotel, condos, and soon to open Life Time Resort with a fitness centre, spa, rooftop pool, and co-working space, the perimeter is now the new centre court. This gives hope that these priceless suburban real estate pieces won’t be abandoned or converted into dull office parks. So let’s applaud RH for developing an unforgettable location. It’s stunning if this is the way retail will go on.

By Allison Kaplan


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