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That's not to suggest Ricky's is doing away with the array of adult toys — partially shrouded behind a beaded curtain — or the rainbow of colorful wigs lined up behind the cash register. No, that quirky, smirk-inducing merchandise is staying, but Ricky's is steadily working to reinforce its primary role as a purveyor of beauty supplies, heavily frequented by hairstylists and makeup junkies.
The retailer is focused on refining its beauty mix — for instance, it recently added Frédéric Fekkai hair care — and is methodically opening more doors in the New York metro area.
The aim is to follow upper-middle-class New Yorkers — pushed to the boroughs by Manhattan's rising cost of living — to new markets, said Todd Kenig, who co-owns the business with his brother Ricky. The brothers' father owned Love's, a discount beauty store chain that he ran in the Seventies and Eighties.
Ricky's has stores in East Hampton, N.Y., and Brooklyn and is scouting out real estate in nearby Hoboken and Jersey City, N.J.
The chain — which has one store outside New York state in Miami's South Beach — aims to have 22 doors by March, and has a long-term growth target of 50 to 100 stores, said Todd Kenig. He added that a strategic buyer — not that the company is actively looking for one, he clarified — could potentially power Ricky's into a 1,000- to 2,000-store national chain.
Last year Ricky's revenue reached $40 million, an increase of about 24 percent over 2006, according to the company.
The Kenig brothers — along with fellow owner Dominick Costello, who serves as president — have inched toward a more traditional corporate structure in recent years. In February 2006 the company established a company headquarters, complete with a human resources department and a creative team. Prior to that, the Kenigs and Costello each had offices in three separate Ricky's stores. Ricky Kenig — the creative force in the trio — still works out of Ricky's SoHo store.
"I try to stay out of the loop. It's too stressful," said Ricky Kenig, adding his proximity to the store serves as the inspiration for the chain's private products, Ricky's Care. The private label line, which accounts for about 5 percent of the mix, was reintroduced in November. Its products — ranging from blond bobby pins to a mini flat iron for touch-ups — spill across a 188-page catalogue. Ricky Kenig, still brimming with ideas, said the effort will likely extend to color cosmetics. The store's current house cosmetics line is called Mattese. "Private label is one of the bigger growth areas for us," he said. "It hurts us to sell products that we can make better."