Byline: Faye Brookman

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Retailers, bombarded with a barrage of sameness at last week’s Efficient Product and Planning Sessions, were happy to learn there are still product niches to discover.
One firm, Christian L. International, based in North Miami, displayed a Lash Extender Treatment that adds length, thickness and strength. There also was a Lasting Lipliner with tints extracted from vegetables and fruits.
Christian L. International has been selling its products in Europe for more than 20 years. The company also has distribution on the Home Shopping Network and Value Vision. Those shows, however, featured kits of several items selling for $32 and up.
“Consumers started asking us for just single items, so we are looking to add retail distribution,” said Noreen Leuzzi, the creator of the products.
Christian L. International products are in fewer than 1,000 doors, including Miami-area Walgreens and Fedco Drug, but the company hopes to at least triple that. Industry sources estimated the company has retail sales of about $8 million. The firm would not comment on estimates.
Among the items buyers singled out were a Lash Extender, a treatment that adds length and thickness to lashes and retails for $5.99. Other items were the Lasting Lipliner with fruit and vegetable stains and an Anti-Age Lip Treatment.
According to Leuzzi, the stain does not come off for several days unless removed with baby oil. The anti-age treatment helps fill in tiny wrinkles in the lips.
“Buyers were raving about how it worked during the show,” said Charles Bowlus, president of the EPPS show. All items are under the brand name Natural Angel. Christian L. International offers them in displays that can be hung or presented on counters.
There was a whiff of optimism in the air at EPPS about holiday fragrance sales. For the past three years, mass market fragrance sales have been flat.
But this year retailers are optimistic about scents. However, the fragrances generating enthusiasm aren’t from major firms like Revlon. A handful of niche players has taken advantage of a void in the marketplace created as manufacturers shied away from launching new fragrances. Several firms have purchased the rights to older, established scents that they hope to revive.
Aladdin Fragrances, for example, continues to support Pierre Cardin Pour Homme with special value gift sets. The company is also now representing 4711 Cologne, a scent with a large following, according to Michelle Wasik, vice president of sales.
“Retailers come in and tell us they have people that buy the large size because they love the fragrance.” Aladdin assumed the distribution of the 300-year-old scent from Intercosmetics.
Fragrances of France hopes shoppers will be nostalgic for its Tigress, Aphrodisia and Woodhue fragrances.
“These are updates of those classics,” a spokesman said of the scents that were once Faberge’s bestsellers. Another firm, IPD Inc., now has the rights to several lines that it hopes to reinvigorate, including Alyssa Ashley and Le Jardin. Peter Whitaker, a former executive with Quintessence and Coty, runs IPD.
CCA Industries hopes to pump up sales of Cloud Dance and Cherry Vanilla, two scents it acquired last year. CCA is packaging its fragrances with stuffed animals as holiday stocking stuffers.
While some firms look to revive classics, another company is importing a fragrance from Europe. Paris Designs Inc. of Miami is hoping its Van Gogh men’s and women’s fragrance will appeal to shoppers looking for a fragrance priced under $10 this Christmas. “This is an original fragrance, not a knockoff, yet we’ll sell it for $10. Even the knockoffs are selling for above $13,” said Herb Carroll, managing director of sales for the U.S. Carroll said two other Van Gogh scents are in the pipeline.

Wegmans Food Stores’ debut in New Jersey apparently has been a great success for far. Industry sources reported the store in Princeton was racking up daily sales equivalent to what nearby grocery stores produced in a week. According to supermarket analysts, the store is on target to do $80 million in sales the first year.
Wegmans, based in Rochester, N.Y., would not comment on the unit’s volume.
However, the chain is making a statement about reacting to shoppers’ needs in the affluent Princeton market. Within a week, the store started accepting American Express cards instead of just Visa and Master Card. “We heard your requests,” a sign at the front of the store explained.
Experts think Wegmans will respond in beauty, as well. As Wegmans opens two new stores in New Jersey — one in the Freehold market and another in Toms River — industry executives believe the beauty assortment will become more upscale.
“They haven’t made beauty a destination yet, as they have in other departments,” observed Burt Flickinger 3rd, a supermarket analyst with Reach Marketing in Westport, Conn.
Wegmans has brought in the top-line names in other departments such as pet products and housewares — Wegmans sells upscale Calphalon cookware — and he expects the same in cosmetics.
“Before, Wegmans only had to cater to the rich in Rochester,” he said. ” It is different in Princeton, where the stakes are higher. The Wegman family’s own sense of style will prevail, and we’ll see them complete the puzzle with a more upscale presentation.”