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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Lush hour: U.K.-based retailer’s Spokane store a link in chain’s global growth

After Lush Cosmetics sold out of its limited edition Koala-shaped soaps that raised money for wildlife affected by the Australian bushfires, customers begged the company via social media to add more.

The company released 900 more soaps on its website Monday and sold out within five minutes, illustrating just how strong demand is among consumers for its handmade, colorful bath bombs, uniquely-shaped soaps, body scrubs, shampoos and fragrances.

Starting Wednesday, the company is bringing its popular products to Spokane with the opening of a 2,800-square-foot retail store at 875 W. Main Ave., adjacent to Free People at River Park Square.

River Park Square is owned by affiliates of the Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.

The company’s grand opening event on Facebook for the Spokane store garnered interest from more than 800 people. It will be the company’s sixth store in Washington and first outside the Puget Sound area.

“Our strategy in 2020 has been for us to really engage customers in new markets, new states and places, and that’s where Spokane became a point of interest for us,” said Alyssa Gates, real estate director for Lush Cosmetics.

Lush, which places emphasis on environmentally-friendly products with responsible sourcing, minimal packaging and no animal testing, has gained in popularity as more consumers gravitate toward organic skin care products and supporting social causes.

“It has set Lush Cosmetics apart from competitors and is something (the company) could use to drive growth in the future,” said Emily Salter, retail analyst for Globaldata, a London-based research firm. “(Lush Cosmetics) has quite a loyal brand following, and its vegan products appeal to younger shoppers especially.”

Lush also is gravitating toward creating a customer experience at its stores, making it competitive with brands such as Sephora, Salter said.

In 2019, the company opened its largest store in Liverpool. The store, spanning three floors, has a hair salon, spa, florist, and coffee and tea bar.

Lush Cosmetics is based in Poole, United Kingdom, with its North American headquarters in Vancouver, B.C. The company generated more than $1 billion in revenue in 2018 and has more than 440 stores worldwide, 250 of them in North America, according to the company’s 2018 annual report.

The company was founded in 1995 by Mark Constantine, his wife, Mo, Liz Weir, Rowena Bird, Helen Ambrosen and Paul Greaves. Constantine and Weir met in the early 1970s while working at a beauty salon in Poole. In 1977, they launched Constantine & Weir, which made handmade herbal hair products for local herbalists and salons.

Constantine & Weir sold their formulas to The Body Shop in the 1980s and opened Cosmetics to Go, a mail order business that featured colorful bath bombs, solid shampoo bars and massage bars. After six years of operation, Cosmetics to Go filed for bankruptcy and Lush Cosmetics was born. The company’s first shop was simple, and products weren’t adorned with frivolous packaging.

Mo Constantine created the company’s first bath bombs, gaining inspiration from Alka Seltzer tablets. The company still holds a patent for the process of creating bath bombs, which now have names such as the Experimenter, Intergalactic and Twilight.

Mark Wolverton and Karen Delaney-Wolverton discovered the unique Lush shops in 1995 and fell in love with the brand’s philosophy and its cosmetics made with fresh, natural ingredients.

The couple partnered with Constantine and Weir to open a Lush Cosmetics store in 1996 in Vancouver, B. C.. By 2003, the brand expanded to the U.S. with a store in San Francisco. It now has more than 200 stores in the U.S.

Marley DuMay, manager of Lush Cosmetics in Spokane, is looking forward to building the store from the ground up.

“I’m excited to bring something different to Spokane and give (customers) the Lush experience,” she said. “We’re here to have fun.”

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