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Village Pharmacy: Emphasis On Service

DALLAS -- Chanel and Calvin Klein are not the usual kind of neighbors you find on the shelves of a drug store.<BR><BR>Maybe that's why the Village Pharmacy at Highland Park Village shopping center here is able to do a brisk business: It stocks a...

DALLAS — Chanel and Calvin Klein are not the usual kind of neighbors you find on the shelves of a drug store.

Maybe that’s why the Village Pharmacy at Highland Park Village shopping center here is able to do a brisk business: It stocks a variety of prestige cosmetics brands and unusual beauty lines from Europe. In business now for two years, the store had beauty sales last year of $57,000, 30 percent over plan. Sales this year are planned to jump at least 20 percent to over $68,000, according to Wilhelmina Von Heflick, beauty buyer and consultant.

Beauty takes up about 15 percent — more than 800 square feet — of the space at the 5,500-square-foot store, which is owned by Willard and Fran Cox.

On a yearly basis, the beauty business breaks down to: Treatment, 30 percent of sales; color cosmetics, 25 percent; bath and body products, 20 percent; nail care, 15 percent, and fragrances, 10 percent.

“We’re seeing the most growth in the treatment, bath and nails categories,” said Von Heflick. “People want to take good care of themselves. And they’re making the bath like a spa, which is therapeutic, with stress levels running so high.”

The store’s best-selling treatment lines are Elizabeth Arden, Aida Grey, Almay and L’OrÄal, along with lesser-known European brands such as Soins Complice, La Via Lattea and Kalemata, which focuses on the eyes.

Hot bath lines include Elizabeth Arden Spa, Pact, Perlier, Kristal, Kneipp, Yardley and Vitabath.

Strong nail brands are Nailtiques and Barielle.

“Women want simplicity and products that work,” said Von Heflick.

Von Heflick is no stranger to making sales. The articulate blonde, a former house model for Elizabeth Arden in New York, is also the former manager of an Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutique here that has since closed.

A visit to the store will almost certainly find Von Heflick hovering near the long, winding glass beauty counter.

A customer who has just picked up a prescription from the pharmacy passes by and pauses in front of a well-stocked Nailtiques display. The customer explains to the gently inquisitive Von Heflick that her nails are nearly always too brittle.

Fifteen minutes after explaining the virtues of Nailtiques, including tips on which cuticle sticks to buy, a $67 sale is completed. The customer is bid goodby with an invitation to come back in two weeks so that Von Heflick can monitor progress.

“I’ll go to any length to get the best products for this store,” she said. “And I’m the store guinea pig. That’s why my customers trust me. No product is sold here unless I first gauge its efficacy.”

The Village does no advertising. Walk-in and word-of-mouth customers fuel new business.

“My mail order business is really taking off, too,” she noted. “I get calls from across the U.S. for several of my lines.”

The Village Pharmacy fragrance counters are somewhat of a special destination for the store’s customers, as several hard-to-find classics are stocked, including Halston Couture, Pierre Balmain’s Madame Jolie, 4711, a French fragrance made for Napoleon Bonaparte and Royall Bermuda Bay Rhum, among others.

Best-selling women’s fragrances include Arden’s Red Door and Sunflowers, and Krizia. Drakkar Noir, Jacomo and Pancaldi top the men’s list.

“Color is not as strong as in the past,” said Von Heflick. “People are spending more now on treatment and body products.”

Best-selling color cosmetics lines include Elizabeth Arden, Revlon, Aida Grey and L’OrÄal.

Hair care lines and accessories are given prominent space at The Village Pharmacy.

Rene Furterer, Klorane and Mane ‘n Tail & Body, a shampoo manufactured for horses, are best-selling hair-care vendors. Mason Pearson brushes and Eve Reid and Karina hair accessories also have followings.

Von Heflick perceives department and specialty stores as her chief competition, and prices are held in line with such venues.

The Village Pharmacy has tentative plans to increase space for beauty as well as add a major color and treatment line, which Von Heflick said is currently being negotiated.