ULTA3 REFINES FORMAT
Byline: Ann Latner
COMMACK, N.Y. — Ulta3 was the first U.S. beauty retailer to merge salons with selling space in a superstore format. That was in 1990. (check date)
Now, just seven years later, Ulta3 is one of beauty’s leading merchants, with 68 units including three in Las Vegas, its newest market. Industry sources estimate that Ulta3 stores pump out more than $3 million in annual sales.
Ulta3 is currently concentrating on rolling out across the country and refining its salon/retail format. The company is scouting for more sites on Long Island and in New Jersey, although stores in the competitive Manhattan arena are still not in the pipeline.
At the same time, in early August the company opened a large store in Commack, Long Island, and is using the unit as a prototype for future expansion and for remodeling the chain’s other stores. The store was designed to encourage cross-shopping between the salon service area and the retail section.
The store, located in a still-under-construction strip mall on a well-trafficked Long Island highway, is the best example of the chain’s new “race track” layout.
The setup allows for easy movement between the many departments and includes a center display area for prestige cosmetics. It also increases visibility of the salon area, another key objective, according to Ulta3 chief executive officer Terry Hanson.
Many experts believe Ulta3 has the potential to fill market niches, especially considering the continued consolidation of chain drugstores. “Ulta3 is a format to watch,” observed industry consultant Allan Mottus.
The 9,200-square-foot Commack store is already a popular stop for Long Island residents, and Hanson has reported it served 10,000 customers in the first three weeks of business.
Although Ulta3 management would not divulge sales figures, sources said that the Commack salon has done so well since its opening that it is one of the top six money makers in the chain.
Directly inside the entrance of the store is the colorful fragrance area, where the scents are arranged alphabetically on shelves. Designer perfumes and Designer Impostors are located within steps of each other. The fragrance area is shaped like a V, with room in the center for prepackaged gift baskets and promotional items. Men’s fragrances in the next aisle are also alphabetically arranged.
A large mass cosmetics section follows, which includes shelf space for L’Oreal, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Naturistics, Lissee and Revlon, among others.
Mass cosmetics are followed by mass skin care, suntan products, depilatories and one of the fastest growing categories in the store — bath products.
According to store manager Joel Sherman, the bath items, including Ulta3’s private label products, are flying off the shelves. The well-stocked section includes foams, gels and bath oil beads in the shape of dolphins, hearts, stars and elephants.
The middle of the store houses prestige cosmetics, from companies such as Color Me Beautiful, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Studio Gear and Ultima II. Murad has an especially impressive display with an informational video.
The cosmetics are self-service shelves, but a full-time beauty consultant roams the area providing advice, demonstration, and makeovers to interested shoppers.
Ulta3 also carries a large selection of mass hair care and hair accessories which take up several aisles, including an entire aisle devoted to Goody products.
The hosiery area also does a lively business, driven in part by promotional coupons in local papers.
Other products available in the store include diet needs, tooth care, sunglasses, trial/travel sizes and cosmetic bags and applicators. An up-and- coming-area, according to Sherman, is personal care appliances, which include hair dryers, electric razors and curling irons. Sherman said personal massagers have rapidly become the hottest items in the department.
The salon area of the store is full service, offering hair, nail and skin treatments.
High-end hair products sold include Paul Mitchell, Nexxus, Rusk, KMS, TIGI, Paul Brown and Jack Amico. An entire aisle is dedicated to professional brushes of every shape and size. One line that’s selling well is Graham Webbs Back to Basics. Sherman noted that it’s popular with customers because of the lower price.
The salon itself employs 16 stylists and two nail techs.
Incentives for shoppers include The Ultimate Beauty Club — a program which offers rewards for frequent buying and alerts members by mail about special offers. The direct mail campaign for the Club recently won an award for marketing results at the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing Tempo Awards.
At this point, there is no competition from within the shopping center where the new Ulta3 is located. Currently under construction is a King Kullen — it is unknown whether the grocery will carry mass cosmetics.
The Commack store was one of 28 Ulta3s to take part in the Aug. 17 Salon-a-thon to benefit the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals. The stores donated 100% of the proceeds from salon services to the Fund, raising over $20,500 in one day.