Thalhimer Realty Partners, which led the way at the start of the pandemic on its Westhampton Commons development, has leased the last of its retail spaces to two beauty industry brands new to the market.
The mixed-use development at Patterson and Libbie Avenues has signed Vestique, a chain of women’s fashion boutiques, and Drybar, a hair salon franchise.
Along with previously signed tenants The Pit and The Peel and Conejo, the additions mark the conclusion of the $73 million project which redeveloped parts of the former Westhampton School property.
The 250,000-square-foot mixed-use building, which replaces one of the two structures that made up the school, has 128 apartments and has attracted 120 applicants for those units, TRP’s Jason Guillot said.
In addition to the maximized commercial section, Westhampton Commons also includes office tenants Raymond James & Associates, Joyner Fine Properties and University of Richmond Spider Management.
“It’s almost the antithesis of Scott’s Addition,” Guillot said of the 5800 Patterson Ave. property, which includes a parking deck and a significant amount of greenery. “(It’s) a great place to live for someone who is active.”
Still in its licensing phase, the new Vestique will be the North Carolina-based company’s 12th physical location and its first store in Virginia.
The 1,300 square foot store will be staffed with one full-time employee, as well as five to 10 part-time employees. Called stylists, employees help customers create outfits that suit their body and aesthetic needs.
According to its website, Vestique now has over 100 employees and an Instagram with 176,000 followers. Store prices for items range from $5 to $50+.
The company was started in 2010 by Morgan Lashley and Caroline Dunham. The two owners, both 37, had been looking to expand into Richmond since late 2014, Lashley said, attracted by the city’s growth and small-town atmosphere.
Prior to Westhampton Commons, the owners were considering opening at Short Pump and had also considered the Libbie-and-Grove and Carytown area as potential options. They said the Westhampton Commons space served their needs well. Annie O’Connor of Thalhimer acted as broker.
“We really liked the roommate,” Lashley said of the new location. “Having Drybar go up next is great, because that’s our demographics.”
Another brand new to Richmond, Drybar is coming to Richmond through Christine Verfurth, 52, who has owned and operated the franchise’s Virginia Beach location since 2021. She said family losses prompted her to join the franchise in 2019 as a change from his career as a chartered accountant in Norfolk.
A decade-long member and later chapter president of Coastal Virginia’s Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Verfurth said she was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the women she met.
Like the owners of Vestique, Verfurth also considered a variety of locations in Richmond. She found out about Westhampton Commons through CREW Richmond member Danielle Beckstoffer, an agent for Thalhimer who put her in touch with her colleague James Ashby IV, who was involved in the deal.
At first, Verfurth almost didn’t consider the location, as she said it didn’t meet her business and infrastructure needs. However, she described Guillot as a big help in modifying the space to accommodate a living room.
Construction on the 1,800 square foot space began in April. With 11 chairs and four washing stations, Verfurth said customers will be able to enjoy a laid-back experience complete with a mimosa or champagne. An ABC license for the location is pending.
Drybar doesn’t cut or color hair, but instead focuses on blowouts, an approach that Verfurth says can save customers time and money. A blowout costs $49 and takes about 45 minutes, according to the franchise’s website.
The new Richmond location will open July 22 with 12 to 18 trained stylists. Verfurth said it was looking to hire up to 40 employees.
As for Vestique, Lashley expects the store to be ready next fall, after opening its 11th store in Cary, North Carolina.
Plans include a continued focus on e-commerce, a part of the business which Lashley says has grown significantly in recent years – especially during the pandemic lockdown era.
“This year has been a roller coaster,” Lashley said. “We had good months, we had bad months. We just hope to finish the year flat.
Current shipping costs and forecasts of an impending recession have led to some changes in their business model, such as a reduction in inventory. However, Lashley sees this as potentially appreciated by customers, which reduces the likelihood of identical outfits between customers.
Drybar’s Verfurth also acknowledged the pains caused by the pandemic to his business, but noted his ambitions to expand with multiple locations in Richmond as well as southeast Virginia.
Of the Westhampton Commons opening, she said: “The buzz is good. I got a lot of excitement from other local businesses, from people on Instagram.