One faithful Saturday, on the 20th of July, hundreds of Kiwi makeup lovers lined up on Auckland’s Queen Street eagerly waiting for New Zealand’s first-ever Sephora store to open. It was crazy to say the least!
Eager shoppers for the French makeup giant formed a hefty line which extended over one kilometre, wrapping around the corner of Queen Street all the way to the end of Victoria Street East. The first person in line had been there since 9 pm the night before, with everyone else following suit in the wee early hours of the morning.
We don’t blame them—the first 500 customers were handed Sephora-labelled freebies, including beanies and tote bags, and even a makeup palette. All this while bopping and grooving to loud booming music from a DJ stationed right on the street! Sephora was determined to make an entrance.
Confetti was launched, spirits were high, tote bags were filled, and coin was spent as the line slowly made its way inside the bright, black-and-white striped store that carried Sephora’s best brands. Fenty Beauty, Bare Minerals, Marc Jacobs, Tarte are just some of the most hyped brands that beauty-fanatics can finally play with and get their physical hands on.
Sephora has had a grip on the online beauty and skincare market in New Zealand since launching their online store in January 2016. Now, three years later, they’re finally bringing their products closer to its customers, and customers couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing quite like going into the store, trying out new products, and making an impulsive purchase decision and feeling the rush of dopamine hit you as your new holy grail lippy makes its way into your regular routine.
Amidst all the excitement, however, it’s important to remember that Sephora won’t be monopolising the Auckland market, with 3-year-old rival Mecca sitting comfortably just across the road. It will be interesting to see how these two players perform on the Queen Street market, as plenty of brands have tried and failed before. (RIP Topshop.)
Opening day wasn’t all smiles and celebration, either, with the brand coming under fire after staff started sweeping confetti into storm drains. The brand’s spokeswoman claimed that they had, in fact, an approved event permit to use the confetti. After all, it was “bio-degradable, water-soluble and plant-based”. However, there was still the issue of said confetti being swept into the drains, which events company Darkhorse apologised for. Darkhorse has also pledged to have better waste management protocols in the future.
So, what became of the issue? Well, Auckland Council recently decided that there wasn’t enough evidence for a prosecution, with events manager David Burt saying that their event team will be keeping a close eye on the company in the future. Customers also took the Sephora NZ Facebook page to complain about all the litter, with a bunch of angry reacts on their #SephoraAuckland posts. It’s New Zealand, after all, and we’re more woke than most when it comes to protecting our environment and natural resources. Yikes—shaky start!
Despite this minor (major?) setback though, the Queen Street store continues to attract customers. I should know, I was there. I visited the store a few days after opening on a weekday, and it was still relatively packed. There exists an allure of a shiny, new store that most people can’t resist. I got to play with some products I’ve been dying to try out, and almost dished out close to $100 on a Fenty Beauty Body Lava bottle. #FentyPleaseSponsorMe
For people who travel regularly, on the other hand, the Auckland Sephora may just be another one among the hundreds around the world. That, and there’s also so much makeup you can buy before you run out of vanity space. (I mean, how many makeup pallettes can one really own before enough is enough?) But it’s important to remember that this is the first Sephora in New Zealand, and everything is hard to come by here! Makeup lovers down under will definitely take all that they can get. Sans the confetti, though.