Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Summer Afternoon in Soho

This past Friday during the late afternoon / early evening, I took a stroll through Soho. It was the opening day of the brand new brick-and-mortar Birchbox store (433 West Broadway), so I was really excited to check it out! 

When you first walk into the #BirchboxSoho store, you'll see the displays of the website's top sellers and the products from the current month's box. There were lots of sales people around who were helping customers find exactly what they want to suit their makeup and skincare needs. All the displays were bright and fun with lots of testers. To me, that's a huge advantage since you can't test any products if you buy them on their website - something especially important for fragranced products!

Like their #BirchboxLocal pop-up shop at Chelsea Market that I reviewed last fall, the new shop as a BYOB (Build Your Own Box) station. It's a kind of formal pharmacy-like counter with display cases of all your options for Birchbox and Birchbox Man boxes. There are info cards on the walls that you can take to get extra info on the products and check off your selections. Each custom box is $15 for 5 products. It's a little bit less DIY than the #BirchboxLocal station was, which had "vending walls" that dispensed the products you selected which you then placed yourself into your empty box. Personally, I liked the vending wall set-up a little better but I can see how it would be difficult to keep it staffed at a full-time store. Also, if you're a regular Birchbox subscriber then this section might not be so exciting. The options were a little more limited than they were at #BirchboxLocal. There weren't any items exclusive to the store and most had been featured in very recent Birchboxes. They'd still make a fantastic gift though!

The options for the Women's BYOB included: (Body & Nails - pick 1) Color Club Polish, Egyptian Magic Skin Cream, Whish Shave Cream, (Skincare - 1) Caudalie SOS Morning Eye Rescue, Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips, Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream, Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Booster Serum, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit, (Fragrance - 1) Atelier Cologne's Orange Sanguine, Joie's Folle de Joie, Tocca's Florence, (Hair - 1) Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle, Klorane Shampoo with Desert Date, Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment, Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo, and (Makeup - 1) Cynthia Rowley Black Eyeliner, Jouer Lip Gloss, Marcelle BB Cream, Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight, or Supergoop CC Cream.

Near the BYOB station was this cool computer set-up. Not sure what product to buy? Staff looking particularly busy? No problem! This touchscreen program allows you to filter a bunch of options - style, hair type, skin type, and age. It will then pull up a bunch of recommendations for you.

The product walls are especially well organized. Rather than having product separated by brand, they are instead separated out by product category - makeup, skincare, hair, etc. Although there weren't any product discounts or gifts with purchase (at least not yet), you can pay for products at the shop with your Birchbox points - and you can earn Birchbox points there too!

The store has 2 floors and the basement floor has hair, body, home, and men's products. It also houses the services station. At that station, you can book appointments for hair, nails, and make-up. The make-up and hair services each cost $30. The nail services cost $10 (basic polish change), $20 (polish change + nail art on 2 fingers), or $30 (polish change + nail art on all fingers). There was a 20 minute wait for a manicure when I was there, but I was informed you can also book in advance on their website here. They also offer several beauty workshop classes in that space which are $30 to non-subscribers or FREE for Birchbox subscribers.

After all that shopping, you might work up an appetite! I was thrilled to see the Chobani cafe across the street from the new Birchbox store. I'd been meaning to check it out.

Admittedly, I didn't really know what to expect from the cafe. I just like Greek yogurt and wanted to have a look. At the cafe they offer Chobani yogurt mixed with numerous sweet and savory fresh ingredient combos. Some of the savory ones included hummus, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, and olive oil. I picked a very tempting sweet one that had chocolate flakes, pistachios, honey, and mint leaves. I got the "half" size which was the size of a typical Chobani tub for about $5. I also got an incredible iced coffee for about $3.

They had lots of cute poufs and nice wooden trays for guests to enjoy while dining in the cafe. They also had a number of outlets to plug in your laptops and smartphones. I decided to take mine to go and was surprised to see that they give you your yogurt in the same high quality glass tubs - yours to keep! I'll definitely be using mine in the future to make my own yogurt combinations. The ingredients tasted really fresh and high quality. There were layers of each on top of my yogurt which made it really hearty and perfect for mixing. I never would have thought of having yogurt with toppings instead of a classic desert like a cake, pie, or mousse. I'm loving this new idea and was just as satisfied with my yogurt than any of those other (less healthy) options.

Overall a very lovely and delicious afternoon!

What neighborhoods have YOU explored lately?

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