The cosmetics retailer Sephora will make its Maine debut when it holds its grand opening at the Maine Mall a week from today.

The store is in the Macy’s wing.

San Francisco-based Sephora has more than 265 locations in North America, the closest at the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H.

Jennifer Rice, the Maine Mall’s store director, said that as a Sephora customer and a Mainer, she used to go to the Prudential Center in Boston to shop.

Sephora got many requests to expand farther north and had been looking at the Maine market for about the last year, Rice said. “There’s a lot of opportunity in the Maine beauty market,” she said.

Sephora doesn’t have a “brand loyalty,” Rice said, because it carries more than 200 brands of cosmetics.

The stores have an “open-sell” philosophy, inviting customers to try the products in the store before they buy them. The “freedom to play” gives shoppers a stress-free environment, Rice said.

The grand opening will begin at 10 a.m., and the first 100 customers will receive gift cards for as much as $500. A member of the professional beauty team will be in the store all weekend to show 10-minute techniques in makeup application.

Sephora carries more than 13,000 makeup, skin care and hair care products, fragrances and tools. Shoppers can find brands like Bare Escentuals, tokidoki and Murad.

Rice said the Maine Mall location will be convenient for customers who had to go to other stores or buy Sephora items online in the past.

But The Makeup Shop, also in South Portland, sees Sephora as damaging to the local cosmetics business.

Andrea Littlefield, the store’s manager, said she plans to open a second location in Freeport next month to offset the damage that Sephora will do to her business. She likens it to a Walmart opening and hurting local boutiques.

“We think it’s really important to keep the money here locally,” and not give it to a national retailer, Littlefield said.

In the wake of the recession, Littlefield has started carrying cheaper brands, such as Honeybee Gardens, to attract customers.

And when it comes to cosmetics, she said, Mainers aren’t always interested in the luxury brands.

“Mainers are pretty frugal. this isn’t Boston. This isn’t New York City,” she said. 

Staff Writer Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at:

[email protected]


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