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SmileDirectClub Fills Gap Left By Retail Vacancies

Fast-growing at home company has growth plans calling for 140 units to be open by the end of 2018.

SmileDirectClub is seizing opportunities as many brick-and-mortar retailers reduce their number of physical stores.

Coinciding with real estate opportunities is the beauty at-home movement. Consumers looking to duplicate services they used to have to visit a salon or professional office has created a booming at-home beauty market. Sales of at-home teeth whitening, in fact, exceed $300 million per year, according to IRI data. At-home teeth straightening is the latest to garner interest, propelling growth of  SmileDirectClub.

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Following in the footsteps of at-home teeth whitening is straightening.

Either in one of the brand’s SmileShops or via an at-home impression kit, customers can get assessed to see if the at-home aligners are suited to their needs. A state-licensed dentist or orthodontist then creates a treatment plan based on the 3-D scans or impressions, and all of the aligners are shipped directly to their homes.

The company has big expansion on tap. “We want consumers to be able to conveniently and easily get the smile they’ve always dreamed of, which is why we are expanding so rapidly,” said company cofounder Alex Fenkell. Plans call for a total of 40 units by the end of the year, en route to 140 by the close of 2018. Two sites opened in the past few weeks on the West Coast, one in Los Angeles and another in San Francisco.

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SmileDirectClub will launch an app next year to assist with compliance and ease of use. A proprietary whitening system, called Bright On, will also launch on their site. “A complimentary Pro Bright On whitening bar treatment is currently being offered for scan customers at the New York SmileShop flagship in Flatiron,” Fenkell said.

Founded in 2014 by Fenkell and Jordan Katzman, who met at age 13 at summer camp and bonded over their braces, SmileDirectClub saw a market gap for affordable orthodontia.

The company cited statistics that only 1 percent of the population receives orthodontic treatment each year, yet nearly 80 percent could benefit from it. Cost is the biggest barrier. To that end, SmileDirectClub devised a model that is 60 percent less expensive.

The duo compare SmileDirectClub’s service to beauty treatments provided at Medical Spas versus the environment of a dental office. “SmileDirectClub SmileShops are bright and interactive without any of the formal, intimidating aspects of dental offices. The appointments are easily booked online and only take about 30 minutes, so consumers know they can be in and out of the store quickly, making it an ideal lunchtime or after-work visit,” Fenkell said.