Business

After 46 years, Boise Bench store closing due to online shopping: "We can't compete"

Tri-State Beauty Supply was one of the original tenants at Hillcrest Shopping Center on the Boise Bench. It will close next month.
Tri-State Beauty Supply was one of the original tenants at Hillcrest Shopping Center on the Boise Bench. It will close next month. adutton@idahostatesman.com

It’s not like online shopping is a newfangled concept. But one local business is calling it quits after losing customers to the internet in the past year — especially after a winter that kept everyone inside.

Tri-State Beauty Supply and Salon opened 46 years ago in a shopping center at Overland Road and Orchard Street. A family-owned business, it has nine employees and an in-store salon. When it wasn’t in liquidation mode, Tri-State had more than 10,000 professional beauty products on its shelves.

“We’ve got some incredible customers, and they’ve been so supportive over the years,” said Lyndee Mitchell, who managed the store for 21 years. “They love our customer service. But one thing we can’t compete with is price.”

The store will close at the end of May.

Mitchell said the internet has slowly leeched customers from the brick-and-mortar beauty store.

“We have had a lot of customers who come in and want our advice, and want help in understanding what to use, and they pull it up on their phone and go order it,” she said.

Mitchell isn’t sure why, but customers seemed to make a big switch to online competitors last year. And it’s not just millennials, she said, but also seniors on fixed incomes.

Unfortunately, some of those customers have learned a painful lesson about online shopping: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“Some people have said [a coloring product is a] different strength, or shampoos come out thin and watery,” she said. “And some get exactly what they order.”

During the winter of 2016-17, she noticed an even more drastic loss of customers. It wasn’t just during the record-breaking snowstorms that kept people from leaving their homes — a time when many local businesses took a big hit. It was afterward, too.

The inclement weather actually changed buying habits.

“They could get it in two days,” Mitchell said. “In some cases, they could find it cheaper. Sometimes it cost more.”

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @audreydutton

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