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February 26, 2009

Anniversaries and such.

It seems hard for me to believe, but we are in our tenth year. It certainly has been an interesting journey. When we launched our little company in 1999, it was a catalog with a website, and while we believed it should work, who really knows until you push the small tyke out of the nest. In fact, we had a bit of a scare after we mailed our first book and the phone hadn’t started to ring. Perhaps junior wasn’t the budding genius we thought he would be. But then our CEO at the time noticed that no one had turned off the phone night service, so all the calls were going to voicemail. As soon as we switched it over, the calls started pouring in and we began to feel better about our little venture.

Over the next 10 years we lived through the dotcom bubble (which helped get us going – thank you Steve and Bill) and the bursting of said bubble, which was far less pleasant. But as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The next few years were relatively uneventful and we enjoyed rather nice growth (thank you DWR customers and design enthusiasts). Then we were all shocked by the events of September 11, 2001. We were rocked to our very core and the job of selling chairs suddenly seemed far less significant. But before long we did what all people do. We mourned, we contemplated the meaning of it all and we got back to living.

Today we are working our way through an economic situation that is unprecedented in the recent history of our nation. Many people have lost their jobs and many more are concerned about the future. Our little company has certainly not gone untouched by these events. We have reduced our workforce by 30%, and our overall expenses by even more. For the last six months, our products have been on sale constantly in order to generate revenue and reduce inventories. All of this has been trying, but it has positioned us well to have a very good chance of celebrating our 20th anniversary too.

So, when our team was trying to decide how to best celebrate this milestone, it was suggested (and widely agreed upon) that we provide the people who helped us get here (that would be you folks) an opportunity to enhance their surroundings. Starting tomorrow, we will be offering you a never-seen-before (and perhaps not repeated for another decade) offer. We’ve never offered this kind of discount on our entire assortment, and you get free shipping to boot.

Over the next few weeks, you will be hearing more about what we have been up to during the last few months and what you can continue to expect in the future. For certain, it includes honesty in all we do and it does not include continuing with deep discounts. Because deep discounts indicate one of two things: Either the company that is doing the discounting is liquidating – as in “bye bye” – or their prices are artificially inflated to allow this deep discounting, which we consider less than honest.

So, we would like to get a dialogue going with all of you about pricing, quality, what you need and what we can do to bring it all together, within a framework that is DWR. What does that mean? Well, simply put, it is about the value of smart design. Staying true to the fundamental tenets of modernism, we will expand upon our ability to satisfy your need for lasting value, with products that satisfy our standards of quality and design.

So stay tuned – and let us know what you think. In the meantime, preshop our Anniversary Sale (it starts at midnight).


Ray Brunner


Love DWR, it was a pioneer in the design world when nobody knew who Eames was. Just getting inside one of the stores is a great design experience. Almost museum curated.
Now, during these hard times, customers are expecting more for less. Keep your prices competitives, offer free shipping, great customer service and you not only survive... you will grow.
Happy anniversary!

p.s. the image link on my blog is not a paid ad by DWR. I did it for free because I love them...!

Honesty? Your post plays heavy on honesty.

So when you say, "never-seen-before (and perhaps not repeated for another decade) offer. We’ve never offered this kind of discount on our entire assortment" ... I guess you think since you italicize the word entire, it lets you off the hook for NOT including the Stark Bubble Club Collection in the sale?

My wife and I have been waiting to purchase parts of the Stark Bubble Club Collection this spring. We received a catalog last week that talked of a 15% off sale starting March 5th. We were disappointed to find the Stark Bubble Club Collection was not apart of it.

When I read the newsletter about your Anniversary Sale, I thought I was in for truly something special. Instead, it looks like cheap sales talk and an excuse to move the 15% off Sale that was going to start March 5th up to February 27th.

It is of course double talk like this that will give me pause when I do eventually purchase my Bubble Club Chairs... and consider if DWR will be apart of that purchase.


Mark – I hear exactly what you’re saying we would love to be able to discount everything, as that would truly be the sale of the decade for our clients. Unfortunately, because we sell licensed product that’s connected to certain designers, the manufacturer’s control the pricing, as well as any company’s ability to discount their products. In this case, the Bubble Club by Philippe Starck is made by Kartell and is only marked down when they plan a sale. We plan our marketing far in advance and cannot align all of our licensed manufacturer’s promotions with ours. We do make every effort to get our manufacturing partners to join us during the sale, which is why licensed product from Cassina and Fritz Hansen are included.

Your concerns are the exact reason that we’ve included Free Standard Shipping throughout the entire Anniversary Sale on all product. I know this is of little consolation, but please believe me when I say that anything we are able to promote in this event is on sale. I really appreciate hearing how we look from the client’s perspective and I hope that when the Bubble Club is on sale you will still consider purchasing from Design Within Reach.

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