L’OCCITANE opens on Chapel St.

International retailer L’Occitane en Provence opened its newest boutique on Chapel Street just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

After several weeks of renovating and refurbishing, L’Occitane opened its doors at 1042 Chapel St. on Nov. 23 — the same day of the Yale-Harvard game. Since the grand opening, the site has seen a steady flow of customers, ranging from Yale students and faculty to doctors from Yale-New Haven Hospital, said store manager Doreene King.

“L’Occitane has actually been looking to open up in college towns across the country because they tend to be a good environment … they bring in people from a lot of different cultures,” King said. “I honestly haven’t seen one particular type of person coming in since we opened.”

Originally founded in 1976 in Provence, France, the beauty product company specializes in skin care, fragrances and body care and offers holiday gift packages ranging from 18 to over 100 dollars. The company first opened in the United States in 1996 and has since been expanding rapidly.

Over the past two years the company has opened up 20 new locations per year and has also worked to renovate existing locations, said L’Occitane Communications Director Rachael Szporne.

In choosing new sites, the company seeks “unique communities” that support small businesses, Szporne said. She added that New Haven’s history and engaging community attracted the company.

“We just fell in love with the Chapel Street location and loved Yale’s sense of community,” Szporne said.

King added that being next to a French restaurant — Union League Café — added to the location’s appeal.

The company signed a lease with Yale University Properties in early October and has spent the last several weeks refurbishing the building, which now features a wired glass and metal structure that is supposed to mimic a traditional greenhouse, according to a L’Occitane press release.

Since its establishment in 1996 as a branch of the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, University Properties has sought to reinvigorate New Haven’s downtown shopping district by bringing in new restaurants and retailers to Broadway and Chapel streets.

University Properties Spokesperson Carin Keane said that the new natural beauty product store will enhance the downtown shopping experience by drawing in local residents and by bringing in shoppers from the greater New Haven area.

Szporne said that because the store offers products in such a wide price range, the company is confident that the products will appeal to many people in New Haven. In particular, though, the company will focus on building connections with local residents, including Yale students.

“If students are going home for the holidays and need to buy gifts or have guests coming in, we want them to come to us,” Szporne said. “We want to establish ourselves as the go-to and build those relationships.”

In addition to selling beauty products such as soaps and lotions, the store offers complimentary mini facials and hand massages, a feature Szporn said would appeal to Yale students who are stressed about final exams.

L’Occitane has five other locations in Conn., in Westport, Danbury, Greenwich, Evergreen Walk and Stamford Town Center.

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