Boyds is getting into the beauty business.
The upscale Philadelphia-based specialty store, which completed a $10 million renovation last fall, will be adding a luxury skin care and cosmetics space at the end of this month. This marks the first time in the store’s 81-year history that the retailer has offered beauty.
The 1,500-square-foot space will be located in a rotunda at the back of the main floor and will offer a variety of brands for women — and a couple for men — some of which are exclusive.
The brands include Tata Harper, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris, The Laundress NY, Hush & Dotti, Kevyn Aucoin, Kjaer Weis, Atelier Cologne, Agustinus Bader and Creed.
The creation of Boyds Beauty, as it is being called, comes as a result of a couple of new hires at the store. Nearly one year ago, Missy Dietz joined as director of business development, and Patty Fresta was added as Boyds’ women’s manager, overseeing ready-to-wear, shoes and beauty. Both had worked previously at the Neiman Marcus store in King of Prussia, Pa.
“The beauty business at Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia is massive,” said Alex Gushner, men’s buyer and fourth generation of the founding family. “Patty ran that business. So with Missy and Patty, they brought reconnaissance, know-how and relationships.” He admitted that he and his father, Kent Gushner, grandson of the founders “didn’t know much about it,” but trusted their new hires to create a business from the ground up.
“We know we’re pretty late to the game,” Alex Gushner said, “but as our women’s business has grown, we’re open to continuing that trend and finding new ways to add traffic.”
Dietz said the decision to add what she called a “curated business for beauty” came as a result of listening to the store’s customers.
“We want to offer everything our customer needs and be one-stop shopping,” she said. She pointed to a migration back into the city by empty nesters as well as Millennials who have graduated from Philadelphia’s many universities and have opted to remain.
She said the brands were chosen to set Boyds apart from the big beauty retailers such as Sephora and Blue Mercury. “They have a different customer,” she said.
Fresta said Boyds “worked hard to get a curated collection of vendors,” ones that have established integrity in the way they create their product and give back to the community. She said Tata Harper, for example, offers 100 percent natural products that have been certified.
The location in the back was also carefully thought out.
“We didn’t want it to be in the front,” Dietz said, “because women don’t want to be on display when they’re having their makeup done. But it will be hard to miss when you walk into the building.”
She said that in addition to makeup, the store will also be offering massages and spa treatments as well as gifts.
While the majority of the products are geared toward women, there are a few brands that also carry products for men including Tata Harper, and if there’s a market, that category may be expanded in the future.
“We want to walk before we run,” said Dietz, adding that the company is considering adding Tom Ford’s line or another. “Men’s skin care is growing and we don’t know what we don’t know.”
In addition to beauty, Boyds will also launch a personal shopping service around Labor Day, Dietz said. “We’re building a personal shopping complex on the fourth floor,” she said. “That’s the next component of the renovation.”
The fourth floor will also be the new home of women’s eveningwear, which Dietz said will allow the store to expand its women’s designer offering.
Turning back to beauty, Dietz said that the goal is to eventually grow the category to 10 percent of the store’s overall business. “We would love it to get there,” she said. “We hope this year it’ll be 3-4 percent and our five-year projection is 5 percent. But we think it will eventually get to 10 percent.”
Boyds was founded in 1938 as a men’s clothing store in Center City, Philadelphia by Alexander, Albert and Ben Gushner. The store today spans five floors and 74,000 square feet on Chestnut Street. As part of its $10 million renovation, the company relocated women’s wear to the main floor and mezzanine last year. It entered the women’s market around 13 years ago.