So I got to do something that I rarely do, which is spend an hour poking around at a beauty store. The whole experience was even more enjoyable because I got a guided tour of the joint by the co-owner, Ricky Kenig. Who's that, you say? Well if you've ever been to New York City and wandered into a Ricky's store, THIS is the guy that the shop was named for. He founded the business waaaayyy back in 1989 (right before Alison got into her first pair of Hammer pants) and it became the go-to destination not just for beauty and hair stuff, but for novelty items like crazy, colorful wigs, kinky costumes, props -- you know everything one might need to star in the annual NYC Village Halloween Parade. Ricky left the company at the end of last year and just teamed up with makeup distributor Vincent Mallardi to open up a brand new "beauty playground," Kenig + Alcone.
The space is pretty much the opposite of Ricky's -- it's not flashy or kitschy at all and the selection is pared down to JUST hair and makeup products. Sorry, but you won't find any edible body paint or penis straws here. I generally have no need to go into stores like this (I almost have enough beauty loot at home to open my own store), but those rare occasions when I do pop into a beauty supply shop with a friend, it's so overwhelming. I didn't feel that way at Kenig + Alcone; it was actually a very serene place to be. No loud music blaring (wow, I'm getting old), lots of space and plenty of help available for the customers who were grapling with important descisions like which deep conditioner to go with. Actually, a few times during our convo, Ricky excused himself to make sure customers were taken care of, even though he had staff on the floor. He said he plans to be at the store "all the time" while they're still in launch mode.
And that is why he had time to give me such a throrough tour. Here's what I saw:
This is Ricky and me in front of a massive wall of fake hair, in every color you could possibly want. Eventually, he will have in-house extensions experts (there's a salon area inside the store) available for anyone seeking assistance with their newly bought hair. If you see me later this spring with hair down to my ass, you'll know exactly where I got it from. Just sayin'.
After just a few minutes of touring the store with Ricky it was so obvious that this man eats, sleeps and breathes his work. He LOVES it and that passion is really contagious. We got to chatting about products and what was really refreshing is that he told me the truth, straight-up no chasers. One of his favorite lines? Redken. "For color-treated hair, I only recommend Redken. I have been in this business my entire life and I have seen Redken outlast every other line, like Jhirmack, Nucleic-A -- these are things that were around in the 70s. But Redken was out there and they always concentrated on extremely dry and damaged hair which leads into color-treated because that’s what does most of the damage. In my opinion they have been in this forever; everybody else came after," he says.
Currently, the store is only 75% stocked to make room to add products requested by customers and recommendations from the staff. Everything in there now are things that Ricky really believes in, including all these really cool, hard-to-find brands like Verb, Evo and Davines (a favorite of Jane's BTW. She just re-upped on their OI shampoo and conditioner).
There are gems everywhere in the place, like these Batiste dry shampoos, which I spotted chillin' discreetly on a bottom shelf. Now this is the kind of packaging that can drive someone to impulse shop in bulk. So cute!
One of the spots that immediately draws you in is this hair clips wall. It's set up like a bulk candy store so customes can easily pick out exactly what they want, in the quantity that they want.
Don'tcha just want stick your hand in here and grab? Dispalys like this make me feel greedy and grabby.
The brushes and combs are also sold loose, in bins. "In 1989, I was the first to take the hairbrush out of the packaging. I created this bin system," Ricky says. DON'T GET IT TWISTED.
Although they sell a crapload of brushes at Kenig + Alcone, Ricky showed me the only three tools that every woman needs: A round brush, a paddle brush and a rattail comb.
The main level is completely haircentric, but upstairs, is where the makeup magic happens. There's color, brushes, lashes, nail polish, you name it. At some point they'll be holding makeup classes, too.
I don't think that I've ever seen so many makeup and skin accessories in one place. Ricky was trying to convince me to use a makeup sponge to wash my face -- he swears by them for deeper cleaning and exfoliation. Any of you care to weigh in?
So that's the store in a nutshell. And don't you worry, they're launching an e-commerce site this spring. Do you have a favorite local beauty store? Do tell.