Merchant of the week: Thompson Chemists/Alchemists, NYC
Posted on: 2013-02-27
This week we are featuring our merchant Thompson Chemist and Alchemist, a SoHo based pharmacy and health and beauty supply store. Thompson Chemist/Alchemist has created quite the following with their European beauty imports and have become an expert in the beauty industry. Check out our interview with Esther, the store manager, who gives us insight into the best products in her store. Read below, then go shopping! You'll earn double points this week.
What are Thompson Chemists and Thompson Alchemists?
Well, they’re two different stores. Thompson Chemists is the pharmacy – it’s been around since 1994. I would say it’s the most neighborhood-friendly, community-oriented store, and we try to implement that here [at Thompson Alchemist, which opened in 2010]. We have a lot of very regular customers and clients who keep on coming back. They trust us with their skincare, their health, even their psyches sometimes. Thompson Alchemists does not have a pharmacy – it’s a high-end health and beauty store. [At Thompson Alchemists], we carry a lot of import items – stuff you won’t find anywhere else. We like to hear from our community. We go by what they want. It’s really all about them. We look for the best lines to carry – we try to find something special we really care about and we like to develop a rapport with the companies themselves.
Why is Thompson Chemists/Alchemists important to your neighborhood and New York City as a whole?
I think we’re very sustainable and I think we’re important to the people of this neighborhood. They care about us a lot, and they try to help us out whenever they can.
What is your favorite product and why?
It really depends on the category! [For skincare], moisturizer from Embryolisse
, for sure. It’s a French company. It’s amazing, it feels so good on your skin, and it’s only $28! I’ve been using this lately, during the winter and it totally soothes my skin. It feels so nice going on – it just makes my skin happy!
For shampoo, I really love hydrating shampoo from Number 4
. Number 4 is a Californian company. They just launched maybe two years ago. I love their company and what they stand for – they’re vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free, none of that icky stuff in it, so people who are allergic to anything can use it with no problem. It’s very luxurious, it’s fun to use, and it feels great.
If there’s anything else that I love, it would be these candles. These are super-luxurious. They smell beautiful! They’re from Manuel Canovas
, [which is] actually a textile maker from France, and all of sudden they started making candles! They’ve been around for a long time, and their candles are gorgeous.
What can new customers expect from your employees?
We get a lot of new customers every day. I think they get really surprised by how willing we are to help them. We want to walk them through the store and tell them everything we have, [ask them], “What do you want? What do you need? Can we help you in any way?” They don’t really expect that when they walk into the store. I think overwhelmingly, they enjoy the experience because it’s an overall shopping experience.
What are some of the top brands you sell?
, definitely, no hesitation. It’s a French [skincare cosmetic] line. When we first opened up in 1994, we only had five products they sell, and now we have the entire line. They do so well for us – people love the line. We have a very special rapport with the company. Very frequently, about once a month, a facialist from Nuxe will come in. People will sign up in advance and set up appointments, and the facialist will give them a complementary facial. We just held this event the other week. It was wonderful.
Another [top brand] is Lavido
, which is an Israeli [skincare] line. We’re the only one in America that carries it. It’s a really beautiful line, too. It’s organic, and it’s all grown on this one farm in Israel and we know the owner personally. He’s a really wonderful person. He actually has a very large cult following – people who go to Israel all know about it. It’s just a great product – it works, it feels good, it is
Tell us about the Thompson Alchemists brand.
This is our soap and our hair and body care. We also have our own nail polishes, which are the most fun for me, because I actually named them. We just came out with our fall line, and we decided to name it after “fabrics of the fall.” We have a “SoHo” line too, named after parts of SoHo, like Broadway Blush
and Dinner at Raoul’s
, which is a really famous restaurant just around the corner. This one’s my personal favorite: Bleecker Street Blackout
Why should people shop local for beauty products?
It’s important to sustain your local businesses. They work so hard to stay here and they support so many people. This one store supports 16 different employees and several families, so buying something here, you’re supporting that community. You’re supporting your
community. You [also] definitely get more of an individual, tailored experience here. People here know your name and I think that’s a nice experience to have.
What is your most-bought product?
are two popular items from Europe. One, [Avibon], is an anti-wrinkle cream. Movie stars use this – it’s probably what I’m going to be using when I turn 30 (laughs
). Bioderma is a makeup remover – all the models use it. We have such a hard time keeping that on the shelf. I have to get new shipments from France all the time.
What are your customers like?
It really depends what they’re coming to buy. We have this one company, Eyebobs
– it’s a glasses company. I find that everyone who comes and buys Eyebobs, is very eccentric, fun, and hip. People who come buy Lioele
, which is a Korean makeup line, will be young, trendy people. I have people who come and buy the La Bella Donna
, who’ll be more mature, sophisticated, elegant. We get a mix of so many different personalities. It’s incredible.
What can male customers find here?
We have a whole men’s section! Our pomade from Baxter
is very popular amongst guys. They all have different looks. Guys will come in specifically for that. We do well with Anthony – Anthony for Men
is the brand. Anthony is a local from this area, and that’s how we started in here. He comes in all the time – he’s really sweet, and we love him. We do well with him.
What’s one beauty secret everyone should know?
Cleansing. It’s so important to cleanse every day. Just keep makeup remover wipes by your bed so you can take all the dirt off of your face. That’s the first essential step to skincare. There are five steps to skincare: cleansing, moisturizing, toning, exfoliating and protection, which might even be more important than cleansing. You can use regular sunscreen, or La Bella Donna foundation, which has SPF35 in it. Nicoletta
is the one I use.
What is your approach to beauty and health?
Be happy! Just be happy and take care of yourself, and that’s it!
Can you give us a tip about running a small business?
Community is so important. Having a community rallied around the store helps. Reach out to the community, create a Facebook page, try connecting with other businesses in the area. We started a relationship with Chobani yogurt down the street – they help us out. On Saturday they came in, and they were giving out yogurt to all of our customers. It makes things special – people remember that!