Monday, July 26, 1999 | 11:34 a.m.
A rapidly expanding beauty products outlet is coming to the Las Vegas Strip with three stores, including one at the new phase of the Showcase mall.
Sephora, a new retail concept that features colorful displays and an emphasis on customer experimentation, made its Las Vegas debut with a soft opening at the Venetian hotel-casino last week.
Next year, the company will open a two-level, 10,000-square-foot store at the Showcase mall at the south end of the Strip and a 6,000-square-foot store at the New Aladdin hotel-casino.
Howard Meitiner, president and chief executive officer of Sephora's stores in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, said the strategy follows a trend of many retailers to offer several Strip locations. The strategy presumes that most tourists won't get to every resort venue on the Strip and that conventioneers will stay close to the hotel in which they stay.
The announcement of the opening of the Showcase location was the first confirmation of a tenant for the second phase of the popular mall near the MGM Grand hotel-casino. Showcase is already home to the World of Coca-Cola, M&M's World, Gameworks and the All-Star Cafe.
Barry Fieldman, one of the co-developers of the Showcase, said the second phase of the mall will be south of the existing property and will include three stores. Fieldman said ground would be broken on the new phase in late August or early September. Meitiner said he is optimistic the store will open by early 2000.
A third phase, which will be developed next year, is planned north of the existing property.
Fieldman would not disclose the other tenants in the second phase, but said he is excited about the prospect of Sephora opening at the mall. The Sephora concept, Fieldman said, is a good fit for the Showcase, which offers a variety of high-entertainment, multilevel social stores.
Meitiner said color is a trademark of Sephora's American stores because Americans are drawn to visual elements the way European shoppers are attracted to a variety of scents.
The store offers 365 different colors of lipsticks and skin products from across the globe.
The rainbow of colors is offset by the red, white and black background of the interior. Soothing music is offered to put shoppers in a frame of well-being. A ruby-red fragrance organ at the front of the store has a collection of 490 scents an expert can match with a fragrance, either a store brand or one of dozens of international lines.
The store has six make-up stations where consultants can offer beauty tips. But Meitiner said the philosophy of the store is to allow customers to be free to sample and explore. He said occasionally customers get the impression that personnel aren't wanting to help and that there's a fine line between giving customers freedom and leaving them with an impression of being too distant.
Customers are encouraged to develop their ideas at color and treatment libraries, where a variety of body and skin care products are offered for application and experimentation.
Brand-name products are offered alphabetically and in displays of equal size so that no company gets preferential treatment.
There are 55 employees at the Venetian Sephora store and some of the trained beauty specialists dressed in all-black attire present products with a single gloved hand to better show off the product.
"We like to try to find things that resonate with the customer," Meitiner said. "It's not just beauty products but a feeling of well-being we are trying to convey."