retail watch | Jun 6, 2024 |
RH targets the heart of Silicon Valley

Good news for all the Silicon Valley gazillionaires, suddenly rich techies and unicorn stakeholders who want to get their RH on: The upscale home furnishings retailer has opened a new store in Palo Alto.

The Gallery at Stanford opened last week, and it is quintessential RH: a three-story furnishings extravaganza that—as with all new locations for the company—includes a restaurant. It of course debuted with an exclusive party hosted by RH impresario and CEO Gary Friedman.

As such, it continues the company’s ongoing campaign to replace its old-format legacy stores (the longtime location on the nearby University Avenue closed with this opening), but The Gallery at Stanford differs from many of the brand’s recent openings in several ways. It is a ground-up build rather than a retrofit of a historical property, as new RH galleries in Europe and Indianapolis have been. And even though the Gallery is free-standing, it is colocated with the old-school Stanford Shopping Center—home to a Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and California Pizza Kitchen—rather than being entirely on its own, as many newer locations are. It’s the fourth RH in the greater Bay Area, which represents the largest concentration of the brand’s stores anywhere, fitting for a demographic that screams RH shopper (not to mention the fact all of these locations are a short Tesla drive away from corporate headquarters in Corte Madera).

The grand entrance and floating staircase at RH Palo Alto
The grand entrance and floating staircase at RH Palo Alto
Courtesy of RH

The Palo Alto store, at 60,000-square-feet—about typical for RH new builds—features 13-foot ceilings on its main floor, with a grand staircase flanked by “cascading water walls.” The first two floors feature selections from various RH collections, as well as an interior design studio with private workrooms. Also on display, RH said in a release, are “one-of-a-kind antiques and artifacts from Friedman’s world travels.”

From the second floor, the “grand champagne double floating staircase” leads to a 150-seat restaurant, now standard issue for RH locations, although in grandiose RH-speak, this one features “the most significant reimagination of the brand’s menu in over a decade.” If you’re hungry, you might want to try the whole grilled branzino, or they recommend “what we believe might be the best Fried Chicken Sandwich in America.”

RH isn’t the only brand unveiling statement stores these days. Arhaus, arguably its closest competitor, opened its latest outpost last month in the outdoor shopping mall The Grove in Los Angeles. At 18,000 square feet—and without waterfalls or branzino—it is significantly smaller than the new RH, but the location is high-profile. The month before, Arhaus opened in upscale Greenwich, Connecticut, and has also debuted five new stores in California this year, bringing its Golden State total to 11 as part of an “ongoing West Coast expansion.”

The retailer currently has 94 U.S. locations while RH has around 105 (about a third of which are outlets), plus about a half dozen in Europe, with further expansion into Asia and Australia expected in 2025. Another player in the upscale home furnishings world, Ethan Allen, has about 170 stores, some of which are franchised.

The entire home furnishings retail space, including the higher end of the market, continues to deal with the struggles of the slowdown in the overall housing sector, so this may seem like a strange time to go big on expansion. Some of these openings—RH’s Palo Alto palace in particular—were likely planned during fatter times, and it’d be misguided to read too much into the timing. However, neither RH nor Arhaus shows any signs of backing off on growing their overall footprint. Both are likely figuring that when the market turns around, with more stores they’ll be better positioned to capture a surge in demand. In the meantime? Fried chicken will have to do.

Correction: June 18, 2024
An earlier version of this story mistakenly described Palo Alto as “the biggest city in Silicon Valley.”


Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.

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