'Like a playland' of beauty

Ulta Beauty general manager Keith Trotter is shown at the superstore and salon in the Oaks Square Plaza, 6843 W. Newberry Road, Gainesville.

Erica Brough/Staff
Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.

General Manager Keith Trotter said part of Ulta Beauty's appeal can be explained by exploring the contents of a woman's purse.


Keith Trotter

Age: 39
Occupation: General manager, Ulta Beauty
Personal: Single
Dream partner for lunch: Van Cliburn
Favorite book: "Exclusive" by Sandra Brown
What's playing in his car: On iPod, Arturo Marquez's "Danzon No. 2"
Favorite listening: Classical
Hobbies: Marching baritone and serving as treasurer of the all-ages Sun Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, writing for theme park news site, playing piano
Education: Bachelor of business administration, Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas

"Not everything in there is going to be a $30 lipstick. You're going to maybe find some prestige items and then maybe their favorite Maybelline mascara," he said.

Ulta Beauty is a 10,000-square-foot store near the I-75/Newberry Road interchange with more than 20,000 items in cosmetics, fragrance, hair care, skin care, bath and body products and salon styling tools from prestige brands typically found in department stores to lower-cost mass brands found in pharmacies and discount stores, and hair care products found in salons and retailers.

Popular brands include Bare Escentuals, Urban Decay, Smashbox, Too Faced, Dermalogica and Philosophy to mass brands such as Maybelline and L'Oreal.

"It's so much fun to see someone come to an Ulta for the first time. It just blows people away at how much we have," Trotter said.

The store also includes a salon with hair care and styling services and gel nail manicures, a Benefit Cosmetics brow bar with eyebrow and facial waxing, and a Dermalogica skincare pod with 20-minute facial treatments.

"We really are a one-stop beauty shop," Trotter said.

Ulta Beauty, based in Bolingbrook, Ill., was founded in 1990 and has grown to about 540 stores in 45 states.

The Gainesville store opened in October in the former Famous Footwear location in the Oaks Square Shopping Center at 6843 Newberry Road.

Trotter said he was surprised how many people in Gainesville already knew about Ulta.

"It was very surprising on our opening day how many people had Ulta reward cards, how many people said, ‘We're so glad you're here. Now we don't have to drive to Ocala,' or ‘We don't have to go to Jacksonville anymore.'"

He said the store will start to see its own return on investment in early February when new customers start to get mailers and the first round of reward card certificates.

Ulta appeals to women across all price points, with cosmetics making up a large part of the business, Trotter said. In the past couple years, the retailer has added men's sections with skin care, grooming products and fragrances.

"Culturally, it's just something that has evolved over the past 10 or 15 years," Trotter said. "Men are starting to take better care of their skin because they want to look younger as long as possible. Taking care of your skin is pretty much the only way you're going to do that without a facelift."

The Gainesville Ulta is the third store Trotter has opened as general manager, following openings in Destin and Kissimmee.

He also has helped with openings at other stores in Florida.

"I've been there at the ribbon-cutting of 18 different stores. That's one of my favorite things to do is be there during a grand opening and see how excited everyone is, because for women, this really is just like a playland."

Trotter came to the beauty industry after 13 years in operations, merchandising and retail for theme parks — first at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington and then at the Disney Magic Kingdom.

He started at Ulta in 2005 as an assistant manager and was promoted to general manager within five months.

"I realized this was the right company at the right time in such a growth phase that there would be opportunities," he said.

Trotter said he enjoys recruiting, training and setting up new stores and would like to open more.

"I kind of just go with the flow," he said. "I'll go where they need me to go."

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