Walgreens, the iconic American drugstore, has been everyone's favorite neighborhood pharmacy for over 100 years. Since acquiring the Duane Reade beauty chain in 2010, they have tried to elevate the common drugstore experience to rival what shoppers get from a department store. LOOK Boutiques have been introduced in Walgreens key urban markets such as Chicago and Las Vegas. In certain locations they also serve wine and sushi. This week I visited a nearby location in northwest Washington DC.
The first floor is the familiar drugstore setting with traditional soda coolers against the wall, rows upon rows of magazines, and 2 tons of candy for sale. As soon as you take the escalator second level, the store opens up into a bright and immaculate room with high ceilings and enormous windows. Anyone who has ever been in the cosmetics area at a department store knows that they are notorious for crappy flourescent lighting. The LOOK Boutique is filled with glorious sunshine, and natural light is any retail makeup artist's best friend. The makeup stations are cleaner than some I have seen in local spas. Most makeup boutiques in malls usually cram insane amounts of products into tiny claustrophobic spaces (Sephora, I am looking at you), but this store is extremely spacious and actually pleasant to navigate.
LOOK carries some of the same brands found in spas and used by professionals in the beauty industry. I was happy to see the cult-favorite Becca Cosmetics and powerhouse pharmaceutical skin care from Kinerase. Nail polish snobs can find OPI and Essie, the same brands used in professional nail salons everywhere. A display island in the middle of the sales floor showed an impressive selection of brushes and application tools. I also saw plenty of premium hair care products and fragrances that you would normally find in a nice department store.
Ana is the supervisor, and she leads a team of friendly makeup and skin care experts. The staff members all greeted me with the same courtesy and professionalism that shoppers expect to receive from a luxury-brand department store. They aren't just there to restock cotton balls and ring up your cheap mascara. These ladies give great customer service, are extremely product savvy, and have years of experience in the beauty industry. LOOK Boutique is definitely going to be a huge success in Washington DC.
|Kinerase? In Walgreens??? Yes!