Today was the day… when four mature, self-respecting professional women snuck out of their offices took an appropriately-timed and strictly work-related midmorning break to meet in at the Anchorage Fifth Avenue Mall to attend an event of significant cultural import: The grand opening of the northernmost Sephora in the United States!
|This guy, who works in the olive oil store next door, clearly did not realize the import of the moment into which he had wandered.|
There were a few people already gathered outside the store when we showed up, about 10 minutes before opening, and by the time the doors were unlocked there was a crowd of maybe two dozen people, including two men: the camera guy from “Good Morning Alaska” (a program I did not previously realize existed) and the mall rep taking photos for Twitter.
The staff actually brought out a giant red ribbon and did a cute little cheer about making Alaska more beautiful, and then they cut the ribbon and welcomed us all into the store.
The employees were clearly just as excited as the customers; as we walked in, they lined up on either side of the door and clapped in rhythm as they welcomed us. Once inside, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into a smiling, bubbly Sephora team member trying to help you find something or offering to dish up samples. (Hi, Liz! Thanks for the Fresh mask tester… can’t wait to try it.)
|An energetic employee shows off Fresh Sugar lip treatments for this anonymous but very responsible customer who was almost certainly not technically skipping out on work.|
The store itself is a pretty typical Sephora, except that everything is new and shiny and untouched. And there are some features I haven’t seen in other Sephora locations, like the interactive touch screen fragrance selector, which helps you search fragrances based on “impression” or take a quiz to determine your fragrance style. (I’m elegant, obvs.)
Hands down, though, the single most exciting thing about today’s event was the newness of the testers. There were literally testers that had not yet been opened and still had the seals on them. I actually tried on lip gloss on my lips (with a disposable wand, naturally) because I knew it didn’t have a million other people’s germs in it.
|That’s a tester of the Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Cream (retail $95), completely untouched by human hand! Until a moment later, when I dug right in. First!|
|Smashbox Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow tester with an unsullied surface!|
|The white whale.|
The most impressive virgin sample? The Make Up For Ever 12 Flash Color Case, totally unmolested. Every single one of these I’ve seen in every Sephora I’ve ever visited has been smeared and dug into and glopped around to within an inch of its life. And here it was, perfectly intact. I had to fight hard against the urge to grab a handful of disposable applicators, sit right down on the floor and paint every square inch of my own exposed skin.
Despite going in with a strategy (I went straight for the nail polish display; Sephora stopped shipping most nail polish to Alaska a while back due to USPS hazardous materials restrictions, and I know the Nails Inc. leather and feather polishes will sell out quickly, at least in good colors), it didn’t take me long to experience total sensory overload. My companions and I kept running into one another in front of random displays, dazed, like we’d been wandering in the desert for weeks and were suddenly ushered into the Wynn Buffet. After about a half hour of wide-eyed wandering, we lined up to make our purchases. I managed to walk out with just three nail polishes, an OCC Lip Tar, and the MUFE lip gloss whose tester I’d broken in. Our purchases were packed into vinyl Sephora totes (free while supplies last!), and in a happy coincidence, this purchase requalified my VIB status for next year – and now that we have a real Sephora, I’ll actually get to use the free makeover that came with it.
I expect Alaska’s new Sephora will be a madhouse starting tonight and lasting for, oh, six months or so (if you’re not from here, you might be unfamiliar with the consumer hysteria that greets new arrivals on the retail-and-restaurant scene), but the opening was pleasantly uncrowded and friendly. And lucky me works within walking distance of the mall, so when I feel the need to pay my next visit, I’ll just have to play hooky schedule that important work-related meeting on a quiet weekday morning before the teenagers and tourists wake up and hit the mall.
And in other good news, look at what’s opening right next door…