After nearly 35 years of helping locals look their best, Merle Norman has gotten a makeover of its own. The shop, located in the heart of downtown Fuquay-Varina, held a grand reopening on Sept. 18 in celebration of its updated look. What was once a predominantly pink and slightly outdated store has been transformed into a sleek, modern boutique.
"It's inviting and it's open," said owner Cindy Homan. "The mayor walked in at the grand reopening and didn't think he was in Fuquay, it was that upscale."
The redesign took three weeks to complete, and the store remained open during that time. According to Homan, they were celebrating three things: the store's redesign, the fact that they are consistently number two or three in the nation in their demographic of Merle Norman studios, and the beginning of their 35th year of business in downtown Fuquay. The store opened back in 1975, and Homan is the third owner. Located on Main Street, the boutique is in a prime spot for residents to enjoy.
"I would encourage everyone to shop local and support the local economy," said Homan. "Online shopping doesn't provide service like we do. And why travel to the mall when you've got the number one foundation seller in the heart of downtown?"
Homan's Merle Norman store is also a gold medallion studio, having maintained a higher level of customer service to achieve that distinction.
For those who don't know, Merle Norman was a chemist working in a hospital lab in the 1930s. Norman created a cream that healed a burn, then went on to open a store in 1931 with three original products. Merle Norman studios today still carry those original products, as well as dozens more. Along with Merle Norman products, the shop in Fuquay carries wigs, Switch Flops, jewelry, handbags and more. They also have a full service nail salon on site, providing manicures and pedicures. Need to look your best? The beauty consultants at Merle Norman can do makeup for any occasion.
Homan had her first makeover at the age of 14 at a Merle Norman store.
"It's like a rite of passage in the south - your aunts come, your grandmothers come, and it's a big deal," she said.
The store also offers complimentary facials and makeovers specifically designed to target your skin care needs.
"We are skin care experts," said Homan. "We will fine tune your skin care and makeup to meet your individual wants and needs. Anybody can do makeovers, but we are the specialists. We rival anything on the market without a doctor's prescription."
Homan is herself a customer of Merle Norman products.
"I've tried different products, but I always came back to Merle Norman because of its affordability, and it always did a better job than anything else I tried," she said.
For Homan, the desire to help other women feel beautiful stems from her own experience getting a professional makeover – on the Oprah Winfrey show. Homan appeared on a weight loss show back in 2003 and received a makeover, courtesy of Oprah, in the process. Now, it’s her turn to make dreams come true.
"I enjoy making women feel good about themselves,” said Homan. “This is a place where you can come and not feel intimidated. Everyone is welcome, and we want everyone to know what it feels like to have a professional makeover."
But professional certainly doesn’t mean uptight, and Merle Norman is anything but. Homan likened her store’s atmosphere to that of the beauty salon in the movie “Steel Magnolias.” There’s plenty of talk, laughter and just plain fun.
"I always wanted to have a Merle Norman store, and I love what I do,” said Homan. “My deciding factor when I was thinking about buying this store was when I asked myself, 'If I had all the money in the world, would I still want to do this?' And the answer is yes."
Merle Norman is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. They are also open after hours to provide consultations for any teenage boys who may be a little hesitant about coming in during regular business hours. The store also offers manicures and pedicures designed specifically for men.
Merle Norman is located at 208 S. Main Street. For more information or to set up your consultation, call (919) 552-3751.