By  on July 31, 2009

Sephora is seeing double in Times Square.

The beauty retailer today will open its second store in the area, at 5 Times Square. Instead of cloning its nearby store at 1500 Broadway, the new space aims to serve as an incubator for new ideas, as well as products exclusive to Sephora.

“This was a recession-related opportunity that gave us the opportunity to shake things up a bit,” David Suliteanu, president and chief executive officer of Sephora, said during a Wednesday walkthrough of the space.

“There’s plenty of business in Times Square for two stores, and we made a conscious decision to take our most current thinking and concepts and test them here,” he said. “It’s a blend of our DNA and the part show, part spectacle of Times Square itself.”

Successful concepts will be adapted for existing Sephora doors. “We think there are three very strong messages here,” said Suliteanu. “First, that we’re editors of brands, giving consumers what is best. Second, that we’re beauty experts in everything we sell, and third, that we have exclusive brands and products that in many cases you can’t find elsewhere.”

Located on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, adjacent to a subway entrance, the 9,359-square-foot space with soaring ceilings is smaller than the Sephora at 1500 Broadway, which is about 14,000 square feet. (The average Sephora door is about 7,500 square feet.)

“We had no footprint like this, so our design team started from scratch,” said Suliteanu of the tall, yet relatively narrow, space. Led by Paul Loux, the company’s vice president of design, the space is fronted with a 50-foot, lighted black-and-white Sephora sign. Immediately inside the front doors, a Sephora Beauty Studio — designed to allow consumers to learn to do a smoky eye or a perfect pout in 10 minutes or less, and leave with the kit to re-create the look at home — is to the left, while a new gondola design featuring Sephora’s eponymous color cosmetics collection commands significant floor space to the right.

“Amping up our consultation services is a big priority in this store,” said Sharon Rothstein, senior vice president of marketing, noting that an additional Sephora Beauty Studio outpost is at the back of the store and focuses on skin care. Nearby, a travel beauty bar sells Sephora-branded, TSA size-approved clear pouches, along with pint-sized moisturizers, Evian spritzers and cosmetics which are within carry-on liquid limits.

Sephora’s natural offerings — notably, Ole Henriksen, Boscia and Caudalie — have been gathered into an upscale boutique area along the left wall of the store, with LED-lighted fixtures, sustainable wood floors and display units and recycled fixture components. “We want to reinforce the concept that natural and glamour can go together,” said Suliteanu.

Along the right wall, oversize, colorful signage — “We’re using a lot more color here than we have in other stores,” noted Suliteanu — shows off the Sephora by OPI nail color collection, which includes a $9 shade called 212-SEPHORA that is only available at 5 Times Square; Sephora’s complete brush line (complete with detailed instructions and uses on a large wall display) and a fragrance wall which groups scents by designer, rather than gender. A circular, lighted fragrance tester unit, which changes hues continually, offers a chance to give said scents a whirl.

In the center front, a display unit touts “Irresistible Values” on one side; the other teases Early Access, a part of VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider), the newest wrinkle to Beauty Insider, the chain’s loyalty program. VIB, which will comprise the highest-spending Beauty Insider participants, is rolling out now; its members will get previews, promotions and freebies not available to other customers.

“We’re also looking at giving our VIB customers lab samples of upcoming products to get their opinions on them,” said Allison Slater, vice president of retail marketing. “We know these customers are passionate about beauty — we want to know what they think.” The chain also plans a private holiday shopping event for these consumers.

Close by, brands exclusive to the 5 Times Square store — including home airbrushing brand Temptu (see related story, page 8), color cosmetics brands By Lauren Luke and Illamasqua and curly hair line Ouidad — are highlighted, as is another 5 Times Square exclusive: Make Up For Ever’s Gotham lashes, black crystal-encrusted false eyelashes, which will retail for $15 per set. A tool bar, complete with electricity, allows customers to test everything from hairdryers to electric skin brushes. Some best-selling brands, such as Philosophy, have been given generous — or, as Suliteanu puts it, a “distorted” ­— brand presence, where large fixtured units hold the line’s soup-to-nuts offering.

More than 13,000 products from more than 200 brands are featured in the new space. And good news for night owls: the store will be open until midnight seven days a week.

Even the chain’s brands appear to be going ape over the store: today, Bliss plans to have employees in gorilla suits (“our version of guerrilla marketing,” joked the brand’s spokeswoman) handing out information on the brand’s waxing products in front of the store.

As for sales the new space will generate, Suliteanu said only, “a lot.” Industry sources estimated the average Sephora store generates at least $1,200 a square foot yearly.

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