NEW YORK — Mother’s Day is two months away and independent and specialty retailers have started generating ideas to ensure success at point-of-sale. Many will use themed merchandise displays, gift certificates and added-value purchase incentives to ensure a good holiday.

The exterior of the store is used to spark interest for Scarlett Messina, owner of Scarlett in Philadelphia. Messina displays the store’s special beauty purchase of the day outside on a chalkboard. The store’s windows also support daily purchase specials and once inside, customers will find highlighted merchandise on several tables. "We’re known to have the hard-to-find products. We call our customers and tell them what’s in," noted Messina, adding that exclusivity also draws clients in. High levels of service, coupled with sampling, helps nail a sale.

JD’s Cosmetic Essentials in Westport, Conn., also places an emphasis on sampling, and prepares early for Mother’s Day. "We start heavy sampling in April so our customer has a favorite to ask for," said store owner Elizabeth Genel. Her store finds it easier to sell bath and body products than fragrances for Mother’s Day, as fragrances depend more on personal taste. Hence, she offers prewrapped gift sets. Offerings such as silk makeup bags filled with eye shadows and lipsticks or a gift certificate are popular. "We invite the mom in for a makeup lesson," noted Genel.

The Studio at Fred Segal, formerly known as Fred Segal Essentials in Santa Monica, frequently changes the assortment in the main part of the store. For Mother’s Day, the merchandise will be arranged to create a story — such as fragrance displayed on one table and home spa on another — so it can be assembled as a gift without making the client search for products all over the store. Noted owner Robin Coe-Hutshing. "Our customer is far more interested in customizing their gift than in a vacuum-sealed one. It looks like they went through more trouble."

Mother’s Day is important for fragrance and Coe-Hutshing expects a few brands to sell well, such as Agent Provocateur, L’Artisan Parfumeur’s new fragrance, Comptoir Sud Pacifique and a new line called Carthusia, an exclusive to Fred Segal imported from Capri.Hoping to create a buzz in her store, Linda Roberts, owner of Private Edition in Nashville, is launching Charismatic from Therapy Systems, a body cream and shower gel of the same scent, the week before the holiday. The "Win Her Heart" gift set will retail for $40 — it normally costs $54. "That’s the one we will be pushing the most," noted Roberts. "On Friday and Saturday [before the holiday] we will have refreshments, to make sure that it is fun to shop, and cookies for the children."

A major focus at New York-based Henri Bendel is a Laura Mercier promotion. Mercier will make a personal appearance. Also beginning the last week in April are the sale of Bendel’s traditional brown-and-white-striped cosmetic and travel bags. "We have a new promotional area, which is a special table that changes its merchandise weekly. The bags will have a major presence on the first floor," said Teril Turner, director of marketing for Henri Bendel. A customer’s savings increases with the number of bags purchased.

Victoria’s Secret Beauty will encourage trial and lure mall traffic with its Demo Diva — a sales associate that stands outside the door — as well as with window displays that support Mother’s Day offerings. This season’s promotional item will be a shimmering powder that comes with a puff for $10 — a $25 value — with a $35 purchase of any beauty item, said Sherry Baker, executive vice president, chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty.

Editor’s Note: Beauty Spot is a periodic column discussing current developments at point of sale.

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