The retail store operated from 1983 to 2006 and sold everything from newspaper caddies to stylish de-cluttering books to small furniture to nicer office supplies.
I use their very well-made clear acrylic magazine files on my own desk-- which I love. While sitting at my desk one day recently and looking at those files, I wondered where they came from and where they went. As a professional organizer in Los Angeles, I am not only fascinated with consumerism, but with how businesses function. This is what I came up with.
Originally a mail order catalogue, Hold Everything merchandise was such a success they opened a brick-and-mortar in 1985. The first store was opened in Corte Madera, a quiet, upscale suburb north of San Francisco.
Origins of Hold Everything:
There is some conflicting information of how Hold Everything originated. The Los Angeles Times has one side of the story:
"During frequent trips to Europe, Charles E. Williams, the 73-year-old founder of kitchen outfitter Williams-Sonoma, would see clever household storage and organization items that he simply couldn't squeeze into his company's catalogue for cooks. So he started another mail order brochure, called Hold Everything, filled with items designed to bring order to chaos-ranging from personal diaries to hat boxes to umbrella stands to wine racks to custom-cut cabinets."
The official Williams Sonoma corporate timeline has another:
"It was decided that [Williams Sonoma, Inc.] should create a new catalog concept. The inspiration behind Hold Everything came from a visit Chuck Williams made to a Dallas warehouse store that specialized in storage containers, shelving and organizational products.
"We had been thinking of starting a new catalog when a new employee from Dallas recommended that I stop by this big store that had recently opened there. They sold plastic boxes, corrugated cartons to pack things in, canning jars and all that kind of stuff. It was an interesting idea and we all agreed that it would make a good mail-order business." - Chuck Williams
Hold Everything sold stylish organizing boxes and furniture. When the chain closed, products were absorbed into other Williams Sonoma, Inc. brands like West Elm. You may notice these familiar pieces.
A brief timeline:
Chuck Williams visits an un-named Dallas-based organizing "warehouse" store and decides the concept would make a great Williams Sonoma mail-order company. The first catalogue is mailed.
The first Hold Everything opened in Corte Madera, California.
12 stores across the country were opened including their first Manhattan location, designed by Glendale, California architect Angelo Maini.
24 locations were open. Mostly in California.
38 locations open.
HoldEverything.com website opens.
William Sonoma announces in January that Hold Everything has not met with sales expectations; announces 11 remaining stores will be closing including three in the San Francisco Bay Area. New York City Upper East Sides shuts down in March.
The Hold Everything catalogue and stores were absorbed into other Williams-Sonoma, Inc. brands.
Hold Everything shuttered their Manhattan Upper East Side location, March 2006.
It's true Hold Everything stores went away. And while it took a few years for the merchandise to find a home, you can still shop for their products at Pottery Barn and West Elm. Check out this post from an event we attended in 2008 given by West Elm's Paulo Kos, Director of Design.
With the explosion of home organization stores like The Container Store, Organize.com (formerly Organize Everything), Stack and Stacks, Storables and Organized Living, you'd think consumers would have conquered their challenges with clutter by now. We guess not.
Survival of the fittest?
Experts speculate that Hold Everything was thin on ideas, bad service and uncreative merchandise. Did the store that first inspired Hold Everything blow them away? Were their locations too deep inside shopping malls? Could the concept of been saved if they had introduced their website earlier?
Why not submit a comment?
What stories do you have from Hold Everything? What were your favorite products? Did your city have a location? Let us know what you think here in the comment section or you can tweet us @johntrosko on Twitter. You can also check us out on Instagram (@johntrosko).
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