What’s Happening With Restoration Hardware’s Plans for Aspen?

Can an exclusive destination become more exclusive?

Challenging days are ahead for Aspen.
Joshua Sukoff/Unsplash

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to describe the company then known as Restoration Hardware, you could accurately do so in a few words, pointing to the housewares and home décor on sale in the company’s stores. Doing that today with the company now known as RH is a bit trickier. A 2022 letter from CEO Gary Friedman touts everything from the company’s charter yacht to lodgings available to book.

While RH’s scope is increasingly global, an article by Emilia Petrarca for Air Mail points to Aspen as the site for some of the company’s most ambitious plans. That “ambitious” is for multiple reasons — both for the number of RH ventures that the company plans to get up and running in Aspen and for their relatively close proximity.

Petrarca points to a 2021 shareholder letter by Friedman in which he suggested that the role of Aspen in this was by design. Or, as he dubbed it, “exposing the world of RH to the world’s most affluent and discerning customers in a single, walkable market.”

That said, none of the RH projects has been completed. Petrarca writes that “RH’s eco-system is still in the early stages of its construction” — and that a number of locals are feeling increasingly frustrated by the escalating luxuriousness of the region. Neither RH nor the company’s developer of choice opted to speak with Air Mail, prompting further questions.

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Reading this article, it’s not hard to look at how development has accelerated an economic shift — even in Aspen, which has been a destination for the well-off for years. There are some parallels here with Nantucket’s 2006 decision to ban chain stores from its downtown, along with the role of the High Line in turning New York’s Meatpacking District into an exclusive destination. And wouldn’t you know it — RH has a footprint there as well.

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