By  on April 22, 1994

DALLAS -- Texas women are turning to drugstores for their beauty products more and more as an alternative to shopping at department stores, area drugstore merchants claim.

With little or no advertising, drugstores have been able to rack up sales gains of 5 to 30 percent in the cosmetics category.

The retailers pointed to competitive pricing, convenience, offbeat brands unavailable elsewhere and personal touches such as free delivery as the factors giving them a sharper edge.

The drugstores also noted that they are increasingly staffing their stores with full-time beauty advisers.

Body and bath products and the sun, nail, hair and skin care categories are proving most alluring to consumers, retailers said, with the color and fragrance businesses trailing the pack.

Cosmetics sales are up 30 percent year to date at Dougherty's Airway Pharmacy, a drugstore at Preston Royal strip shopping center here, said Kelly Cowman, beauty buyer.

She attributed the gains to the store's product mix and customer service, which includes free delivery and cash-on-delivery service. Except for vendor promotions and clearance tables, Dougherty's does not discount products.

"We attend seminars offered by vendors to stay current on the latest in the industry," said Cowman. "We want to be competitive."

Treatment is the leading beauty category at Dougherty's, with products containing alpha-hydroxy and other acids and minerals most popular.

Best-selling lines include Korfs, a treatment brand from Italy formulated with vitamin A derivatives; MD Formulation, an acid-based line; Roc, a German line geared for both dry and oily skin; Ahava, an Israeli line containing minerals from the Dead Sea; Alpha Hydrox from Neoteric Cosmetics; L'Oreal's Plenitude, and skin care offerings from Elizabeth Arden, Ultima II and Revlon.

A remodeling at Dougherty's about two years ago added additional counter space for body and bath products, which Cowman said are perennially popular.

Hot vendors are Perlier, Ben Rickert, Vitabath, Klorane and Upper Canada, which also makes aromatherapy products stocked by Dougherty's.

Top color lines at the store include Elizabeth Arden, Ultima II, Revlon, L'Oreal, Allercreme, DuBerry, Covermark and Dermablend.

At the Village Pharmacy, a drugstore in the upscale Highland Park Village strip shopping center here, beauty sales are trending up 30 percent over last year, said Wilhelmina Von Heflick, cosmetics manager.

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