NEW YORK — Even with the buzz about self-serve frozen yogurt and on-site sushi chefs, the beauty department at the renovated Duane Reade on Broadway and 52nd Street here stands out on its own.
Located in the basement of the newly expanded 20,000-square-foot store (it was formerly an express unit of only 3,100 square feet), the Look Boutique captures consumer interest immediately. Although it doesn’t have the jaw-dropping impact of the nail bar or hair services debuted at the flagship at 40 Wall Street this summer, it does exhibit how Duane Reade is becoming an incubator for independent brands.
In the spirit of Sephora, which has helped launch many hot new brands, Duane Reade offers up space to product lines that its executives feel stand out.
A case in point is Denmark’s Gosh, which is a Duane Reade exclusive and is the first brand seen in the department. Marcia Gaynor, general merchandise manager of beauty and Look Boutique, said Gosh has been a big hit with consumers for its bright and on-trend products. “It has also been popular with tourists familiar with the brand,” said Gaynor on a tour at the grand opening of the store last week.
Two newcomers are getting the royal treatment at Duane Reade. One is a sister brand of L’Occitane called Le Couvent Des Minimes that also features Provence-inspired packaging.
The other is a product called Minus 417 that when demonstrated really captures shoppers’ attention. According to the company, the skin care line is based on natural active components and minerals from the lowest place in the world, the Dead Sea. Known throughout Europe, Minus 417 is expanding in the U.S. with a wide range of products including face, body, sun, hair and men’s care and antiaging items. Gaynor demonstrated one of the stockkeeping units, called Recovery Mud Mask, which features a magnet that is used to remove the mask, resulting in buttery-soft skin.
Several of the new product lines have been discovered at buying shows across the world.
To help promote colors of the season as well as new trends, Duane Reade continues to place its Best of the Best display at the store’s entrance. There’s also huge wall of nail color featuring Essie and OPI shades. These displays will change with launches and new seasonal hues.
This store also demonstrates how Duane Reade and its parent, Walgreen Co., are taking elements of what works in certain stores and then spinning them out to others. First seen at Duane Reade in Herald Square here, a Ramy eyebrow bar is prominent at this store and is available for appointments. There’s also a large Demeter fragrance library, but not the 40-scent fragrance sampler at 40 Wall Street. Brands such as Vera Moore, Joey New York, Pop and skin care from Avene and Vichy have all earned their footage allocations and are prominent on the sales floor.
Two full-time beauty consultants are on hand at all times, ready to perform skin analysis or even to recommend mass market items within the large assortment that includes Cover Girl, Wet ‘n’ Wild, L’Oréal, Revlon, Physicians Formula, Milani, NYC and Rimmel — among numerous others.
The department is elegant, with a fake marble floor and illuminated fixtures across premium and mass brands. “Stores like Ulta and Duane Reade will continue to get more premium brands,” confirmed industry consultant Allan Mottus. “That’s where the business is.”
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