Olney: Competition Heats Up Among Beauty Supply Stores

Christine Wensin, a local resident, prefers to shop at smaller beauty supply stores.


On North Broad Street and North Fifth Street there are more than 20 beauty supply stores, which makes it difficult to find the perfect beauty supply store in Olney. From left to right, across and down the street, there is a beauty shop within 64 feet of each block. It is every woman’s dream, but it is also every business owners’ worst nightmare.

Business owners are finding themselves competing against other beauty stores.

Lee’s Old York Beauty store, located on 5806 Old York Road, has been in business for 15 years. It was the only beauty store, until B&K Beauty Supply opened down the street five years later. Vying for customers sparked.

Cintesa McQuay, store manager of Lee's Old York Beauty, prepares a wig for a customer.

“There is a lot of competition. But we have loyal customers who have been coming here for years,” said Cintesa McQuay, store manager of Lee’s Old York Beauty.

Customers are always looking for newer and hotter items in the market. However, the products being sold at one beauty store can be very similar to products at another beauty store.

“Mostly, all the stores have the same products. The newer items are kind of spaced out. For example, new hair that we have cannot be sold down the street. There is supposed to be a certain amount of distance where the products can be sold at. But all the major brand names, everyone carries and sells. I don’t care what store you go to, everyone sells the same shampoo brands, make-up, hair brush and other beauty supplies,” McQuay said.

Since a large amount of stores sell comparable merchandises, what do stores do to keep their customers coming back?

“Every week, we always have a special item on sale. We have pack deals and for our faithful customers, we give them discounts,” McQuay said.

B&K Beauty Supply store, located on 5615 N. Broad St., draws in their customers by having sales associates offer their assistance and carrying older products that other stores no longer have or sell.

“A lot of stores now sell rimy hair, a weaving track hair. We do not carry a lot of that. We still carry the older brands. People come here for that because a bunch of other beauty stores moved away from the older brands,” said Katrece Truesdale, a B&K Beauty Supply sales associate.

Katrece Truesdale, a B&K Beauty Supply sales associate, stocked up merchandises.

Due to the majority of beauty supply stores and the economy, business is “not like it used to be.”

“Before, it was crazy. The store used to be packed with customers. Now, it is a little different,” McQuay said.

Lee’s Old York Beauty’s monthly profit “went down a lot.” In 2008, everything from expenses, salaries, rent, equipment to office supplies estimated cost was roughly around $70,000 and made a profit of about $30,000. Now, expenses, salaries, equipment, rent and office supplies went down to $40,000 and a profit of about $15,000.

B&K Beauty Supply’s monthly profit has also decreased from $14,000 to $7,000.

“Since last year, profit has gone down tremendously and so has other places in America. Society has been in a recession lately,” Truesdale said.

McQuay and Truesdale believe their competitors are not only the smaller stores but the bigger stores too.

“It is not really Olney competitors. It is the bigger stores like Hair Town, U.S Hair and all those bigger ones. When B&K opened up, at first, we had a big issue going on. But ever since then, I never hear ‘I’m going down the street.’ It is not really around here,” McQuay said.

“People naturally want to known if they are getting the best bargain. We are considered a Mom and Pop store because we are a smaller business. Superstores are our biggest competitors,” Truesdale said.

Christine Wensin, a local resident, prefers to shop at smaller beauty supply stores.

Local residents seem to like shopping at smaller beauty supply stores rather than the superstores.

Lanisha Davis, a frequent customer at Lee’s Old York Beauty, said, “I come here twice a month. I get better advice. I am definitely a quality shopper. If it costs a little more to get, I will spend it verses me buying something that is not worth my money at all. Lee’s beauty supplies have the best quality products.”

Angie Kenner, a local resident, has been going to B&K Beauty Supply for about 10 years. “I have been coming here for a long time. I like what they have here. There is always a variety,” Kenner said.

Truesdale is not worried about their rivals. “We do not worry about our different competitors. We just worry about helping customers who comes here. We have to find things that fit the customer by quality or their budget,” Truesdale said.

Lee’s Old York Beauty and B&K Beauty Supply’s profit may have dropped, but some residents like Davis and Kenner, are willing to spend their money on beauty supplies.

"I like what they have here. There is always a variety," said Angie Kenner, a frequent customer of B&K Beauty Supply.

“If it’s something I need, I am willing to spend the money,” Kenner said.

“The economy definitely plays a role in everyone’s income but, not things from the beauty stores. I still spend $20 to $50 on make-up, jewelry or hair. It depends on what I need that day,” Davis said.

Hair dye is the most popular item in both stores and is selling like hot cakes. “Everybody wants Rihanna red. They want to look like celebrities,” Truesdale said.

“Customers are buying a lot of hair dye and/or rimy hair. So, we are making money off of them,” McQuay said.

Despite of the numerous amount of beauty supply stores, Lee’s Old York Beauty and B&K Beauty Supply are surviving. However, some beauty stores have taken a hit.

“One beauty supply store across from us is not doing so well. It is never open. I think it is out of business,” McQuay said.

To improve the beauty stores’ business, Davis suggested that she “would like to see more of the newer merchandises, such as make up, shampoo and jewelry.”

“I would like B&K to expand, the store is too small. And maybe have special deals on certain things,” Kenner said.

Will beauty stores get their happily ever after by having sales pick up?

Nobody knows.






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