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For people who crave customization in their beauty regimen, Bath Junkie is the store for them.
This story first appeared in the February 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The do-it-yourself bath product store, which loosely follows the “add this, don’t add that” concept of ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery, opened late last month on 227 Mulberry Street in SoHo.
The outlet, the country’s 68th location, grabs curious passersby with its to-the-point name, which for bath lovers brings to mind images of thick gels, coarse salts, exfoliating scrubbers and an endless option of scents.
But unlike other bath emporiums, Bath Junkie allows customers to customize their products by scent and color. Clear packaging allows for formulas to be seen and ultimately displayed in one’s bathroom or vanity without the heavy hand of branding, save for a small nod to the company’s name on products.
First, a customer chooses what kind of product they want to create, whether it be a Walnut Scrub for the face or body, or a Hair and Body shampoo. Then, the customer is steered toward the fragrance bar, where there are more than 200 oils to mix and match. After selecting a scent, she heads to the mixing bar, where the virgin formula is poured into a large steel mixing bowl, and the selected oils are added. Natural-based food coloring is blended in to the customer’s desired shade, products are then scooped up and poured into containers, then packaged with matching tissue paper and bows.
Founded by a mother-and-daughter team, Judy Zimmer and Jocelyn Murray, respectively, the first store opened as Soap Opera in 1996 in Fayetteville, Ark., where the two hail from and continue to call home.
A name change ensued as expansion and franchise opportunities came into play and stores now can be found in Texas, Louisiana, Washington, New York, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi along with Puerto Rico. About 64 are franchised locations; the rest are corporate stores. Franchises cost about $110,000 to $210,000 to buy, depending on location and include fixturing, lights, merchandise, signage and the like. Stores average about $180,000 in sales per year.
Most locations are in malls and high-end shopping destination areas, such as Park Meadows Center in Lone Tree, Co. Strip centers tend to be avoided.
“We want a high-end shopping place, like the Hamptons, or high-traffic tourist venues,” said Zimmer. The New York store is owned and operated by Judy Zimmer and sister-in-law, Betty Zimmer, and measures about 900-square feet. Stores average about 1,200 square feet.
Customers, said Murray, tend to be loyal.
“Once they use our products it’s where they go to get them again. People don’t come here for the packaging.”
Formulas are free of parabens, alcohol and mineral oil, as well as sulfates, said Murray, who designed the line because of her own highly sensitive skin. They source their products from various U.S. suppliers who specialize in natural manufacturing in the U.S., and use a chemist, who wound up buying a franchise, to make sure all formulas are safe.
Bath Junkie also stocks makeup by The Balm, cut slices of soap by Nikki’s Naturals, home cleaning products line Domania, as well as branded products for men. Murray, a former member of the California-based comedy troupe the Groundhogs, had earlier dreams of landing comedienne and acting gigs.
Now, in her retail and manufacturer life, she gets her creative juices flowing by writing the breezy copy on Bath Junkie’s containers.