By  on May 17, 2013

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Southern California specialty retailer Beauty Collection has added to its collection of stores with its first Orange County location in Newport Beach, Calif.

Although Beauty Collection customers have been asking from Day One 15 years ago for the retailer to have a presence in the county, Beauty Collection owner Shawn Tavakoli didn’t want to rush into a subpar location. It took three years of vetting sites before he settled upon the Corona del Mar Plaza shopping center, where Beauty Collection’s store, its fourth overall, is 1,500 square feet.

“We feel that this center fits the demographic of our customer base, which is educated women 30 to 55, professionals and stay-at-home moms,” said Tavakoli. “The stores here are mostly independent stores. They are not chain stores, which is great for us because we don’t want to be in a chain store environment.”

Despite competition from online players as well as Sephora and Ulta, Beauty Collection has been registering double-digit sales increases annually in each of the last three years, according to Tavakoli. Skin care is the top category in its stores, with hair care in second place. Natura Bissé, Epicuren, Malin+Goetz, Bumble and bumble and Frédéric Fekkai are a few of Beauty Collection’s bestselling brands.

“The economy is turning around, and our ticket size is growing. Our customer base is growing. We are clicking on all cylinders, and we want to scale,” said Tavakoli.

At the Corona del Mar store, he anticipates the average annual sales per square foot will be $600 to start, a figure he indicated has been reached by most of the retailers at the shopping center. Beauty Collection’s top-performing store is in West Hollywood, and it generates $800 in yearly sales per square foot.

Certainly, beauty retailing is not without challenges, and Tavakoli pointed out a significant one is customers flocking to the Web to find deep discounts. Beauty Collection’s approach to that issue is providing a reason for customers to visit its stores by stepping up it the education and training of its staff and focusing on service. Its service motto is the acronym GEARS, which stands for greet, engage, ask questions, recommend and services or sampling.

“The Beauty Collection experience is about having a trusted advisor, and coming and getting the solution that you need without being sold anything,” explained Tavakoli. “We don’t want customers to grab and go. We want to interact with them.”

The Corona del Mar store won’t be the end of Beauty Collection’s expansion, but the retailer isn’t looking to blanket the landscape overnight. Tavakoli is scouting locations for a fifth store and said the South Bay area could be a possibility. More stores in Orange County are also on Tavakoli’s to-do list. He would like to reach a total of six or seven locations over the next two to three years.

“We are not opening three or four locations a year. We are much more selective,” said Tavakoli. “We want to hit a home run every time.”

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