A STRATEGIC MOVE FOR HARMON

Byline: Faye Brookman

GREEN BROOK, N.J. — Sales are up in the high double-digits since Harmon moved to new digs along bustling Route 22 here last month.
Although the store was only moved a few miles south, the new location is in a strip center amidst stores that better complement Harmon’s sharp-prices and deep-inventory operating philosophy.
The relocated store, one of the chain’s 25 units, is a showcase for Harmon’s new cosmetics look. The new configuration resulted in a shift of some vendor footage. For example, in order to fit Revlon’s StreetWear onto the wall, Harmon sliced one foot from Revlon and one foot from Almay. Some edits were made to Max Factor, as well. One of the standouts of the new wall is L’Oreal’s latest fixture. “The fixture is just wonderful,” said Naomi Germano, buyer for the chain based in Cedar Grove, N.J.
While Harmon has ample footage devoted to major brands including Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon, L’Oreal and Olay, the chain has made a major push in stocking niche brands. There’s virtually something for every beauty customer in Harmon’s department. For young girls, there’s everything from Petunia and Traffic Jam to Jane and Bonne Bell. Those looking for cutting- edge colors can choose from Prestige, Jordana and Blue Cross Beauty Products. There are also hard-to-find brands stocked such as Sorme, Palladio Rubiglo, Irene Gari and Dermablend. Harmon also has a large selection of Physicians Formula, including skin care. “We become known in our markets for carrying these brands and develop loyal shoppers,” said Germano. Plus, most major beauty lines are discounted as much as 30 percent. The department is carpeted, well-lit and pleasant to shop. On a recent visit, it had a steady stream of customers.
Niche brands are merchandised at the beginning of the pegged wall to give them maximum visibility. Jordana has been one of the best of the smaller brands, according to Germano.
There are also several islands housing promotional merchandise such as Jerome Russel’s face paint and Toma’s Mood Changing nail color, which Germano said has been a hit.
Harmon carries more nail products than most mass retailers. The selection includes artificial nail kits from Kiss and IBD, as well as nail items from Fing’rs and Orly. Nail color includes Sinful, Sally Hansen, Brucci and the Fing’rs nail polish in miniature bear-shaped bottles. Almost an entire aisle is devoted to nail care.
Prestige fragrances are stocked behind a service counter and include everything from Halston to Calvin Klein. While many retailers have seen a dramatic slowdown in designer fragrance volume, the category remains a mainstay for Harmon.
Other well-developed beauty categories at Harmon include a vast professional hair care department with Sebastian, Artec and Paul Mitchell. Skin care includes standards such as Olay, Neutrogena and L’Oreal and there are also lines such as Rachel Perry, an all-natural option.
The entry of the Harmon store is lined with trial sizes of sharply priced health and beauty aids. The merchandise mix includes seasonal products, food, over-the-counter remedies, greeting cards, film and other general merchandise. Although Harmon most closely resembles a drugstore, there are no pharmacies in its stores.

One of the pioneers of deep discount retailing has succumbed to Chapter 11. Drug Emporium, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, was once one of the biggest success stories of off-price drugstore retailing. Founded by Phil Wilber in the Seventies, Drug Emporium wowed shoppers with rock-bottom prices and astounding cosmetics departments. It was one of the first to offer prestige, department store fragrances at discounts. Although the stores were always bare bones to keep prices low, the beauty departments were often carpeted and staffed by trained consultants. The format was emulated by many others creating a flurry of deep-discount drugstore growth in the late Seventies. However, as more and more vendors cut back on deal offers — the cornerstone of deep discounting — the formats found it harder and harder to churn profits.
The 131-store Drug Emporium entered into an agreement with Snyder’s Drug Stores, Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., two weeks ago for the acquisition by Snyder’s of a 100 percent equity ownership of Drug Emporium. Snyder’s, which operates 81 corporate stores and more than 100 independent retailers, is owned by Katz Group of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Because of the need to restructure Drug Emporium’s capitalization and certain financial obligations, the acquisition will be effected through a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 filing by Drug Emporium.
David Kriegel, chairman and chief executive officer of Drug Emporium said in a statement, “The acquisition of Drug Emporium by a high-quality, well regarded firm like Snyder’s through a pre-negotiated reorganization process should allow the company to energize quickly as a sound and financially viable organization.”
Gordon Barker, chief executive of Snyder’s said the combined chains should help both companies to become more profitable.
Drug Emporium will close 51 of its stores, including sites in Atlanta and all of California. Snyder’s will pay about $25 million to acquire the remaining stores, which will retain the Drug Emporium name. Drug Emporium reported an $8.76 million loss for its third quarter, ended Nov. 25. It sold its Internet drugstore business last summer after losing millions of dollars.

Barbie Bath Products’ unique Flexible Pouch has been awarded the best mass fragrance package in the 2nd annual HBA International Package Design Competition.
By doing so, the breakthrough Barbie Flexible Pouch will vie for an overall winning slot at a competition that will be held during the HBA Global Expo in June at the Javits Center. It will compete against packaging in other categories.

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