Top Boutique: Urban Nirvana, with several locations in South Carolina

With five spas, three salons and one spa/salon hybrid sprinkled in locations throughout South Carolina, Urban Nirvana takes retailing very seriously. And the effort is paying off: According to the chain, 18% of revenues in 2010 came from retail sales. How do they do it? For starters, each location dedicates approximately 15% of space to the retail boutique, and also operates both independently and cooperatively.

“Some of our promotional events are implemented across all Urban Nirvana locations and others are location-specific,” explains Natascha Kastel, operations assistant at the chain’s Charleston-based headquarters. “This gives us the freedom to come up with our own promotions, enabling us to more efficiently target clients’ needs.”

Similarly, product displays are handled by individual location managers, but some elements are consistent across the board. “When a new product or line arrives, everyone highlights these at the counter or a special designated table,” Kastel says. The boutique items themselves are all handpicked by Urban Nirvana founder Susie McCrary and her two co-owners.

A partial list: skincare products from SkinCeuticals, Phytomer and Jack Black; candles and bath/body products from Archipelago, Kama Sutra and FarmHouse Fresh; hair lines from KMS, Paul Mitchell and Pureology; and a generous selection of boutique-level gifts, jewelry and clothing. Retail selling is also built into Urban Nirvana’s workplace culture, and front desk staff are trained—by management and by product line representatives—to answer product-related questions.

“We also have a guest service training team in place that travels from location to location semiannually,” Kastel says. And clients are kept well informed about the latest retail offerings, thanks to the chain’s online newsletters and email blasts, hawking holiday promos, events and the annual “25% off everything” anniversary sale. Like we said, Urban Nirvana takes its retailing very seriously. —Linda Kossoff