Hands-on selling

A small retail chain is selling naturally fragranced bath and beauty products in an innovative new way: interactively.

Lured by fresh smells and colorful packaging, customers enter Basin and Basin White stores to discover sinks with running water at which they are encouraged to wash their hands using the company’s exfoliating bath scrub.

Each store merchandises products by category in a neutral environment that allows the colorful packaging “to pop,” says Laura Heninger, vice president and the daughter of founders Shawna and Randy Heninger.

Basin White is an upscale version of Basin, designed to fit into a high-end retail environment where customers are looking “for something that seems more premium,” she says. Like Basin, the stores sport a bathroom aesthetic, but taken to a higher level with black and white tiles and fixtures and more reserved packaging.

Three of the stores are about 1,000 square feet; the flagship Disney World store is 2,500 square feet. In the smaller stores, sinks are located along the walls — at the flagship location, eight sinks line the center. At any given time, “there are eight people washing their hands and we often have lines,” Heninger says. “Because people didn’t expect that level of interactivity with most brands, it brings them back over and over.”

The product mix is constantly updated, with the newest collection featuring shower balms that deliver an aromatherapy experience.

“It feels like while you are showering, you have been transported to another world,” Heninger says.

Plans for expansion include “store within a store” concepts, such as those currently in 180 Hy-Vee locations.

“Going forward,” says Heninger, “we will continue to assess what the retail market at large looks like and we will continue to be on the forefront of those changes.”

Basin and Basin White
Parent company: Retail Concepts of Minnesota
Orlando, Fla.
President: Shawna Heninger
Vice President: Laura Heninger
Locations: 4