Duane Reade: It’s Not Your Mother’s Drug Store

On a glorious fall day, we set out to explore the latest and greatest in beauty retailing formats on Wall Street. We had heard that the iconic Duane Reade opened last year on 40 Wall Street, but never imagined what we would be in store for.

To begin, we entered a magnificently renovated building with an interior reminiscent of the art deco era. We were amazed at all the options right in front of our eyes. We were welcomed by a Tensator Virtual Assistant that greets customers and provides information on this 22,000 square foot store.

Our mission was to explore what was new in the way of beauty retailing although it was difficult to take my eyes off of the FRO YO machine and fresh sushi being made. We headed up to the second floor to enter the beauty department. Not only were we amazed at all of the options available to us from mass to department store brands, but at the incredible education we could get on anything from the hydration level of our skin to seeing which L’Oréal makeup color would look best. A virtual makeup kiosk by EZ Face allowed to us to play with L’Oréal and Maybelline color products to see how they would look on us, giving us a germ-free, tester-free experience.

The beauty department was chocked full of everything from butter nail polish to a manicure station in an opulent room with a marble fireplace, which used to be the office of a bank president. For a reasonable price of $10.00, one could have a manicure with OPI or Essie brand nail polish or even have a gel color manicure.

The beauty department, along with the more upscale Look boutique, offers a wider range of skin care brands than the typical chain drug store, with many of these brands imported from Europe and other parts of the world.

Since my skin’s hydration level was low, Beverly, the department manager, and her assistant were quick to explain to me why this could happen and offered me multiple choices to combat this condition. Since I was not certain what to buy, they made samples of multiple products for me to take home and try.  In the next room was a Hair Care station complete with a stylist to cut/trim or color hair. From that room there was a beautiful open space that showcased the more upscale/prestige brands, as well as fragrances. The store had a sensor automatic fragrance spritzer where we were able to sample about 40 scents either on our wrist or blotter cards.

Not only was this a fun way to spend an afternoon, but I walked away from the experience a wiser and more hydrated consumer!

As part of our upcoming Beauty Retailing USA: Channel Analysis and Opportunities report, we will be providing profiles on trendsetting beauty retail outlets such as Duane Reade.

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