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J.R. Watkins Apothecary products that were originally sold from a horse and wagon, and then online and through a direct sales force, are now available in stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and H-E-B supermarkets.

NEW YORK — J.R. Watkins Apothecary products that were originally sold from a horse and wagon, and then online and through a direct sales force, are now available in stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and H-E-B supermarkets.

The Minnesota-based company, founded in 1868, purposely limited distribution to direct sales and a company Web site, but J.R. Rigley, vice president of sales and marketing, wanted to meet customers’ needs with wider availability.

“Our goal is to provide a premium, natural apothecary experience for our consumers,” he said. While distribution has been kept small — the company generates $75 million annually — estimates are that this amount will double by the end of the 2006 with the inclusion of retail sales.

Noting that many people do not even know what the word apothecary means, Rigley added that the best definition he could find is “one who mixes solutions.”

And that’s exactly what the company’s new line of products is all about.

There’s the shea butter creams that come in food-oriented scents like lemon cream and vanilla; the all-natural lavender hand and cuticle salve that includes a mixture of canola oil, sweet almond and vitamin E, and pure lemon body oil with grapeseed, apricot and macadamia nut oils.

The line also includes medicinal products, such as the Menthol-Camphor Ointment and Liniment Pain Relief Spray.

Retail prices for the products range from $3.99 for the Red Clover Hand & Cuticle Salve to $8.99 for the All-Natural Body Oil.

Staying true to the company’s roots, J.R. Watkins Apothecary has maintained the original trademark Quality Seal on its packaging.

“The great thing about these products is that we make them ourselves; we control the integrity of the brand,” Rigley said.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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