Beauty boutique owners offer up sales advice

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By Carlie Kollath
Business Journal
TUPELO – You have to spend money to make money, at least according to two beauty store owners.
Scott and Sherry Reese own Beauty Motif in downtown Tupelo. The store sells professional cosmetics and skin care products. Popular lines include bareMinerals, Murad, Kiss My Face, Mario Badescu, Go Smile and md formulations.
The couple also owns a beauty store and skin care spa in Tallahassee that sells similar products.
The professional lines come with higher prices than products sold at mass, so the husband and wife team say they have to work a little harder during a recession to convince consumers to part with more money for their beauty regiments.
Their secret weapon: samples.
“Samples lead to sales,” said Scott Reese.
Sherry Reese said most of the lines the beauty store carries are “pretty generous” with providing cosmetic and skin care samples. Yet, the Reeses said they find it’s a good investment to buy extra samples.
“I like for everybody to walk out with something,” Sherry Reese said. “If they come back and buy, that’s good. If they don’t, they left with a good impression and they know that if they need something they can come back.”
She said no one ever asks for samples.
“So many people are actually surprised and thankful when they get them,” Sherry Reese said.
Her preference is that people try the products before they buy them. It helps them pinpoint what they need and cuts down on returns, Scott Reese said.
Customers like gifts
Along with samples, the Beauty Motif owners rely on promotions to drive sales.
The most effective promotion, Sherry Reese said, is a gift with purchase.
Sometimes the gift is a mystery and other times the consumer knows what it will be in advance.
Sherry Reese said the trick is to offer a beauty-related gift that is a good value. For example, a recent promotion gave customers a free anti-aging Murad sample kit if they spent $70 on Murad products.
The Reeses said another good promotion in the beauty industry is in-store events where educators from top lines such as Bare Escentuals will fly in and teach customers about the products and how to use them.
Scott Reese said it’s also important to have meaningful sales.
“We try not to have the sale that never ends,” he said.
He said they have three or four big sales each year to get a large volume of sales traffic. The rest of the year, they count on refills to keep the business going.
And so far, the two-year-old business is making it. Sales last month were higher than March 2008 sales. Yet, there are slow times.
Sherry Reese said she hasn’t seen any of her customers do without foundation and lipstick, but she has noticed that they are doing without extra purchases. Scott Reese said part of the battle in the beauty industry is finding the right products that resonate with customers, and he thinks the store has done that with the popular mineral makeup line bareMinerals.
Sherry Reese said, “People get more emotional about how their skin looks than which laundry detergent to use. It’s very personal … Ten women can walk in the door and there will be 10 different solutions.”
She said compared to other industries, the beauty sector has extremely high expectations from customers and they want results. They want to solve their skin and makeup problems and they want to enjoy the process, she said.
Added Scott Reese said: “Our job, as far as I’m concerned, is when somebody walks through that door, we want them to feel special. We want our people to feel good about their visit as a whole.”

Carlie Kollath