There hasn’t in this much excitement on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica since Santa Monica Seafood opened its doors after moving over from an industrial part of town–and exponentially increasing its business. (Well, maybe when the Dunkin’ Donuts opened a few years ago.)
Just a few blocks east, on the south side of the Boulevard, the new Ulta Beauty at Euclid and Wilshire comes from a similarly humble beginnings. The site, which stretches half a city block, was for many years a discount shoe store that had seen better days. Boxes of shoes stacked high in its aisles made it an unpleasant shopping experience except for dedicated bargain seekers.
As the months-long makeover was underway, stripping of the roof’s façade revealed that the location was once home to a supermarket, likely in the 1940s.
Well, the work is done and it is beautiful. Ulta Beauty soft-opened on January 29, and local “beauty junkies” have been flocking in before the ribbon cutting and ensuing grand opening officially takes place on February 10.
“We’re so excited to be in Santa Monica to offer all things beauty to our guests, with over 20,000 products across all categories and a full service salon,” says the store’s general manager Dan Berger.
Ulta’s tagline is ”All things beauty, all in one place.” And that’s what differentiates it from Sephora. Ulta carries mass-market drugstore brands like Maybelline, Cover Girl, L’Oreal, Sally Hansen and Physicians Formula, as well as prestige brands including Urban Decay, Clinique, Too Faced, Ralph Lauren, DKNY and Lancome. Sephora carries only prestige, and its house brand of lower-priced items, and more fragrances.
Another differentiator is Ulta’s full-service hair salon and skincare and waxing services, as Berger mentioned. That really does make it a one-stop shop for beauty. You can get hair color, a blowout, a customized facial and then make your way over to check out the huge selection of hair tools, hair accessories and hair products—in addition to row upon row of skincare and cosmetics from which to choose.
It’s nirvana for beauty products. There are literally 500 brands represented, including in these categories:
- Makeup– bareMinerals, Benefit, Urban Decay, IT Brushes for Ulta, NYX, Maybelline and L’Oreal
- Skincare – Dermalogica, Mario Badescu, Philosophy, Olay, Neutrogena and Aveeno
- Fragrances – Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Estee Lauder, Gucci, Vera Wang and Dolce & Gabbana
- Professional haircare – Redken, Matrix, Living Proof, Sexy Hair and Carol’s Daughter
- Professional hair tools – CHI and Hot Tools
- Nail – OPI, Essie and Sally Hansen
- Ulta Beauty Collection – cosmetics, skin care, bath/body and hair care
Another factor in its favor: the new Ulta is just a little outside of the downtown Santa Monica area, enough to make it not an ordeal. Although the store has no parking lot in the rear or underground, there are plenty of nearby street options.
Ulta, which operates 949 stores in the United States, chooses its locations carefully.
“We open in areas where there is easy access for our customers and where we feel that the local residents would be open to all that Ulta Beauty offers,” says Berger.
Customers at the grand opening weekend, beginning 10 a.m. Friday, February 10 and running through Sunday, get either 10% off at The Salon at Ulta Beauty or the Dermalogica Skin Bar. And the first 100 guests in the door each day get a surprise beauty gift valued between $5 and $100. Meanwhile, Ulta Beauty experts are available all weekend to offer free makeovers and consultations.
(Ulta Beauty, 1234 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403, 310.260-3392
Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday noon-6.)