Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — Growing old gracefully has been easy for Caswell-Massey’s 74-year-old midtown Manhattan store.
Its heritage is rich in old-world luxury, as exhibited by the English walnut cabinetry and antique chandeliers that adorn the 1,200-square-foot selling space. Well known among travelers and grooming aficionados for its upscale personal and beauty care products, Caswell-Massey, according to chief executive Anne Robinson, is also “the gift place of last resort.”
But times change and, in kind, so do display fixtures. So in a move that proves there’s always room for improvement, Caswell-Massey’s Manhattan store has undergone a cosmetic revamp to better serve its loyal customer base. The store is still recognizable, a sign of successful surgery. But it now boasts several features that enhance its shoppability, as well as new fixtures that bring it into the 21st century.
Some of the changes in the store stand out immediately.
A 12-foot-long “perfume bar” houses 15 fragrance testers along with dozens of carefully wrapped perfume bottles. The bar allows for a hands-on shopping experience and replaces a traditional glass case that previously required a store attendant’s assistance in order to test a fragrance. The top shelf of the three-shelf bar displays the testers. And each tester is set in front of a brass “legend” that lists when the fragrance originated and its notes and, also names some well-known personalities who have worn the fragrance.
The bottom two shelves are stocked with wrapped perfume bottles. Crafted from American walnut and glass, the bar was designed to blend with the store’s warm, living room-like surroundings.
To further encourage customers to touch and smell products, open-sell glass and American walnut vitrines replace regular display cases. Not only do the cases allow customers to shop from all sides of the vitrine, but they enable shopping without the assistance of a store attendant. The open-sell vitrines also make managing and restocking easier as drawers at the bottom of cases store plenty of product.
A designated shopping area for men’s grooming and shaving products was created for the left-hand side of the store’s upper level. According to Robinson, “Men want their own shopping space and expect a certain level of service. [The new section] has had a tremendous impact on sales,” Robinson said.
The success of the men’s section reflects the store’s overall positive performance since it reopened on Aug. 22. According to Robinson, the $250,000 price to remodel the store will not have a negative affect on the company’s bottom line as sales have jumped 30 percent since the makeover. And regarding the loss of sales during the two weeks the store closed for renovations, Robinson said, “We’ve made that back already.”
Sales gains can also be attributed to new sampling systems and trial-size packs, which are displayed throughout the store and encourage impulse purchases. For example, an Almond & Aloe sampler is packaged in a clear, reusable vinyl case alongside regular sized Almond & Aloe products. The sampler retails for $12.50 and includes a travel-size Almond & Aloe Hand & Body Emulsion, Foaming Bath Gel, Mini Body Balm, Conditioning Shampoo, Lip Balm and Almond Guest Soap.
In addition to merchandising changes, the checkout counter moved to the front of the store from the middle to make purchasing easier. Brighter lights, a retooled IBM electric clock from 1923 and polished floors round out the store’s improvements.
Currently there are 11 Caswell-Massey stores across the United States. Two more are scheduled to open this year, one in West Palm Beach, Fla., and another in Schomberg, Ill. In 2002, stores are planned for Tampa and Dallas.
Robinson wouldn’t comment on the company’s annual volume, but industry sources estimated sales figures at about $30 million. Robinson did note that the midtown store generates approximately $1000 per square foot. Caswell-Massey also has a substantial catalog business; there are four annual editions with six annual mailings at a circulation rate of approximately 2.5 million.

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