White’s, ‘an Icon,’ Is Getting a Makeover

A venue of high-end beauty with a pharmacy
Under new ownership, the White’s team includes some new faces and some familiar ones — from left, Vesa Islami, Jessica Medina, Christina Keerd, Vincent Alibrandi, Diana Dolling-Ross, Dyana Nesbitt, and Megan Born. Carissa Katz

    White’s in East Hampton was sold in August, but longtime customers of both the pharmacy and cosmetics departments will be happy to learn that much of what they love about the store is expected to remain under the new ownership — including its pharmacist, Vincent Alibrandi.

    Mr. Alibrandi, the store’s former owner, was at his post on Nov. 8 as Diana Dolling-Ross, the marketing director for Nyco Chemists, which has similar shops in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, talked about plans for the store, which she called “an icon.”

    “White’s is legendary,” Ms. Dolling-Ross said.

    Nyco Chemists owns City Chemist in Brooklyn Heights and Bridge Apothecary in Dumbo, but Ms. Dolling-Ross’s first store, before she went into the corporate cosmetics field, was a pharmacy in suburban Bergen County, N.J., in a town not that different from East Hampton. “I know this customer,” she said. “I am this customer.” She and Nyco Chemists were particularly excited “when we got word it was possibly for sale.”

    What people can expect at White’s in the coming months, Ms. Dolling-Ross said, are additional beauty brands like Darphin and Smashbox. Already there are makeup artists and a licensed esthetician on staff. There are plans for a brow bar, and mini Clarins facials will be available at the counter. The pharmacy team is to remain intact.

    Some renovations are planned for the winter, with hopes for minimal interruptions in business. After that, the cosmetics and beauty part of the shop will have a different feel. “I don’t want people behind the counter,” Ms. Dolling-Ross said. “It’s very department store.”

    “We’ll have a loyalty program tailored for individual customers,” she said, and she will join with companies on promotions that make sense for the customer. Coming up on Dec. 12, White’s will have a free service day, offering customers brow shaping, makeup, and facials along with a gift bag as a pre-holiday thank-you.

    The store will also send out a beauty and health newsletter by e-mail, do “old-fashioned” mailings, and host health-and-wellness evenings.

    “I love this venue of high-end beauty with a pharmacy,” Ms. Dolling-Ross said. There is strong correlation, she said, between the prescription side of the business — helping people get better and stay healthy from the inside out — and the beauty side of the business — helping people feel good about themselves and be healthy from the outside in.

    “I want to educate the customer and the patient,” she said. “I like to educate and empower. . . . I want people to know we sell for them, we don’t sell at them.”

    To that end, she said, she is a “stickler for educating the staff on the products.”

    Ms. Dolling-Ross has worked in the cosmetics field for her entire career, including many years in the world of corporate cosmetics, and has been everything from “a stock girl to a buyer to a beauty writer,” but what she really likes, she said, is being able to connect with customers directly in a store like White’s or City Chemists, the two shops she is traveling between most these days.

    “I love my industry, but I saw there was something missing in the relationship of the woman behind the counter and the customer,” she said Friday at White’s. “We need to listen to what she needs, and what she can afford.”

    White’s has started offering at-home Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Bobbi Brown makeup demonstrations, not unlike, say, a Tupperware party. If $1,000 worth of product is sold, the host gets a $250 beauty basket; $2,000 means a $400 beauty basket and a 15-percent-off coupon in the shop. “Deluxe spa parties” are also on the menu, with facials, hand treatments, makeup and hairstyling lessons, and, for girls 9 to 17, there are age-appropriate Clinique birthday parties ranging in price from $35 to $55 per person that include facials, makeup lessons, hand treatments, nails, and fragrance samples.

    The store used to close on Sunday, but is now open seven days a week, with Sunday hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.