What is most amazing about Room & Board and Design Within Reach is not that they offer unique modern furnishings for your home, it’s that they’re based on a business model from the early 1900s. They’re catalog stores, plain and simple. You go in, check out the comfy sofas and interesting tables and you order stuff, exactly as you would at home using the web, only you’re dictating your address to someone in the store using a computer.
For all that seems fresh and modern about these businesses, trying to buy something on the spot that you could walk out holding reminded me of the past. I guess in the age of the internet, we still need to try things on, sit on them, and see if that orange paint is too orangey, but it seems like weird to base a business on such an old school idea. I guess what they offer is such a niche kind of product they can’t be undercut by a million websites offering copies.