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East Hampton, N.Y.’s White’s Apothecary, formerly White’s Pharmacy, always catered to the well-heeled beauty consumer. But now the renovated landmark, which held a grand reopening on May 23, has the service and expanded product selection to match the clientele.
The event was attended by a number of beauty executives, including Nest Fragrances founder Laura Slatkin.
The timing couldn’t be better as the beauty industry searches for incubators to support up-and-coming brands, while offering expansion for established lines. “I’ve been telling brands for years we can nurture them,” said Diana Dolling-Ross, the marketing director for the drugstore’s new owner, Nyco Chemists, and the brainchild behind the overhauled beauty boutique. Nyco — which operates other upscale apothecaries, including City Chemist in Brooklyn Heights — acquired the 3,000-square-foot White’s store last August.
Dolling-Ross is no stranger to doggedly pursuing premium brands. She enticed La Mer to distribute to her first project, an upscale drugstore in Ridgewood, N.J., and she convinced numerous brands to give the City Chemist store a shot. When Nyco purchased White’s, Dolling-Ross took to the streets near the store to find out what the locals wanted. “When I first visited the store, there were cashiers, but no one was selling. I saw so many opportunities,” she said.
White’s already stocked Estée Lauder, Clinique, Clarins, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Yves Saint Laurent and Shiseido, but the products were obscured by antiquated fixtures. Dolling-Ross renovated the department to look like an elegant Hamptons home. She added brands including Smashbox, Santa Maria Novella, Molton Brown and Laura Mercier in response to shopper requests. For men, she expanded the selection to include Jack Black and The Art of Shaving. Sensing summer residents wanted items for homes, she enlarged the candle and diffuser selection. There’s a bigger emphasis on hair with space for a blow-dry bar and plans for educational events bringing in beauty experts. There’s a privacy area for services, too. She said that once the store was updated, shoppers noticed brands that had been there all along, but hidden on outdated fixtures. “People come in now and say, ‘Oh you carry Bobbi Brown,’” she said.
She also promotes the correlation between health and beauty by working with pharmacists to suggest sun care to patients using photosensitive drugs or skin care to those on medications that dry out skin.
Dolling-Ross is far from done. She has a wish list of brands topped by Tom Ford and Chanel. “We have the right customers and the closest mall competitor is over an hour away,” she noted. Plans are in place for events, ranging from makeup consultations to heath seminars, to keep sales buzzing year round. The store is staffed by at least six or seven trained beauty consultants at most times.
“What beauty customers want is selection, knowledgeable customer service and an occasional [gift with purchase],” Dolling-Ross quipped.