The ultimate in beauty?

Ulta Beauty forecast: sunny with a chance of showers

I rarely do anything drastic with my hair. I get it trimmed two to three times a year, I stopped highlighting it a decade ago after a few streaks too many made me practically blonde, and I’m generally too lazy to get it cut in such a fashion that would require actual work. (A blow dryer? What’s that?)

That said, I do try to take good care of my hair. But I never fully appreciated the power of quality products, despite being urged by every hairstylist I’ve ever had to try something new. I was fine with Dove, or Herbal Essences, or Teen Spirit back in the day (anyone remember that?!). Well, I ran out of my own conditioner the other day and it so happened my roommate had just bought some Biolage shampoo and conditioner over at Downtown Salon & Gallery in the Garden Walk Mall and insisted I try it. Consider me a convert.

That got me thinking about Ulta Beauty, the largest supplier of products for hair, nails and makeup in the United States, which is getting ready to open a 10,000-square-foot megastore next to Costco. In addition to supplies, the store will include a full-service salon offering hair, nail, makeup and brow-waxing services.

The Chico store is currently hiring for manager positions, for those looking to jump on board. Job recruiting and review site shows Ulta employees get great benefits and generally enjoy working there, but hours are inconsistent.

New businesses coming to town are always kind of exciting. Ulta clearly is going to create jobs, but as with Walmart proposing an expansion, I have to wonder how many of those jobs will create vacancies elsewhere. Thing is, while the beauty seekers among us may be stoked on the promises of Ulta—one-stop primping/shopping, 250-odd product lines—it could hurt local salons. I reached out to my esthetician friends and acquaintances to gauge their thoughts and was met with apprehension. My own stylist, Lindsay Allison, owner of Crucial Salon in the SOPO neighborhood (and the only one to go on record), predicts that salon owners will feel most of the heat.

“It will make it a lot harder for salons to make money because we really rely on retail as salon owners,” she told me. “The booth renters pay the bills and the retail sales are our profit above what we make from our clients. Not only that, but we are the ones to recommend the products to the client and to have done all that and have them go somewhere else to buy the products hurts our business.”

When it comes to service, however, Allison was quick to stand behind her and other local salons’ brands. Their success is entirely up to them—if they do a great job, they get repeat customers; if not, they likely end up choosing another career path.

Ulta is slated to open this fall, so it won’t be long before we see how things shake out.