BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — The bookshelves, tchotchkes and other evidence of what was recently part of a sprawling Barnes and Noble have disappeared, and all things glittery, glossy and girly have taken their place.
The new ULTA Beauty store in the Mohawk Commons plaza has opened, and its 11,362 square feet contain racks of shampoo, mascara, appliances like hair straighteners, and even a hair salon and gel nail manicure station.
Although the store’s official grand opening is Friday, April 24, the cosmetic warehouse opened its doors April 17 for a “soft launch,” as general manager Taryn Smith described it.
“It’s funny, some people are like, ‘Ooh, what’s ULTA?’ ” she said.
The company has locations in other upstate New York metropolitan areas, including Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, but the next-closest location to the Capital Region is in Saratoga Springs, a 45-minute drive from Mohawk Commons. She added that some customers recognize the brand from beauty websites and cosmetic bloggers.
Over the weekend, the store will give out gifts and free services to customers to celebrate its opening.
Smith said although there are other beauty stores in the area, ULTA is the only one with a full-service salon inside, and it also serves customers with a wider range of budgets. Alongside pricey brands like Urban Decay and Benefit are drugstore varieties like Maybelline and L’Oreal.
“We have something for everyone in here, from the teen to the senior,” Smith said. “Just in the few days we’ve been open, I’ve seen all age groups in here.”
The company hired more than 40 employees to staff its new store, including the salon team. On a recent morning before the doors opened, a half-dozen employees were lined up for a skin care seminar so they could give advice to customers.
Smith said the company’s decision to put a store in Niskayuna, as opposed to a more populated retail area like Colonie or Clifton Park, lines up with its goals to reach customers in up-and-coming markets. ULTA has 700 stores in 47 states already, and Smith said it is on track to open 100 more stores in 2015.
Smith, who worked at another beauty company in the Rotterdam Square Mall before being hired as the Mohawk Commons ULTA’s new general manager, said her favorite part of the job is helping people.
“To make them feel beautiful; to make them feel fabulous,” she said. “Everybody here has that same passion the customer has.”