This major beauty subscription-box company is opening its own stores inside Walgreens. Here's what it's like to shop there.

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Birchbox opened a mini store in Duane Reade, but it felt nothing like a typical drugstore.

  • Birchbox, the beauty company known for its monthly subscription boxes, is moving into Walgreens.
  • Birchbox opened pop-up stores in 11 Walgreens and Duane Reade drugstores as a pilot test this month.
  • The stores will give Birchbox more exposure and help Walgreens be seen as more of a destination for beauty products.
  • We visited a Birchbox store that opened in a Duane Reade location in Manhattan. Here's what it was like.

Birchbox is moving into Walgreens.

The two companies announced in October that Birchbox, the beauty company best known for its monthly subscription boxes, will be opening up shop in 11 different Walgreens and Duane Reade locations this month. Advertisement

The new retail spaces range from 400 to 1,000 square feet and look like mini-Birchbox stores. They carry brands that Birchbox has incorporated into its subscription boxes and that the company has found to be customer favorites based on positive reviews. Birchbox currently has 2.5 million active subscribers, according to Fast Company.

The spaces feature warm lighting, bright colors, framed Birchboxes, and several makeup stations throughout. Each Birchbox store has company-trained beauty consultants and a separate register. When we visited the space, it felt completely separate from the rest of the Duane Reade, and nothing like shopping at a typical drugstore.

For Walgreens, the Birchbox stores will help it be seen as more of a beauty destination. The company has been investing more heavily in beauty since 2016, when it started carrying brands such as NYX and No7. It also introduced a beauty loyalty program and began adding beauty consultants to some stores that same year.
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"We've been working on elevating and differentiating our beauty experience," Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at Walgreens, told Fast Company in October. "We're trying to give our customers a reason to shop beauty more often."

We visited a Birchbox store that recently opened inside a Duane Reade in Manhattan. Here's what it was like:Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: Future of Retail:AI by Business Insider IntelligenceAdvertisement

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Birchbox opened in a Duane Reade store in the Financial District.

Birchbox opened in a Duane Reade store in the Financial District.

The store had a large beauty department that carried traditional drugstore brands like Maybelline, Covergirl, and NYX.

The store had a large beauty department that carried traditional drugstore brands like Maybelline, Covergirl, and NYX.
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Birchbox was next to the beauty department, in its own separate corner of the store.

Birchbox was next to the beauty department, in its own separate corner of the store.

The first display you'd see upon walking in is a "Build Your Own Birchbox" station, which allows shoppers to pick out their own samples to fill a box with for $15.

The first display you'd see upon walking in is a "Build Your Own Birchbox" station, which allows shoppers to pick out their own samples to fill a box with for $15.
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There were a handful of different products to choose from that included face masks, moisturizers, makeup remover, and hair products.

There were a handful of different products to choose from that included face masks, moisturizers, makeup remover, and hair products.

There were descriptions of each sample product on the table, as well as testers, so you could try a product before taking it home.

There were descriptions of each sample product on the table, as well as testers, so you could try a product before taking it home.
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Across from the build-your-own station were small tables selling products considered customer favorites ...

Across from the build-your-own station were small tables selling products considered customer favorites ...

... and a few Birchbox-exclusive brands. The products were more expensive than the typical brands sold at Walgreens and Duane Reade, but not quite as expensive as the prestige brands sold at retailers like Sephora.

... and a few Birchbox-exclusive brands. The products were more expensive than the typical brands sold at Walgreens and Duane Reade, but not quite as expensive as the prestige brands sold at retailers like Sephora.
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Most products sold between $15 and $40. Many drugstore brands are less than $15, and high-end brands often start around $40, so the Birchbox products are in a middle ground.

Most products sold between $15 and $40. Many drugstore brands are less than $15, and high-end brands often start around $40, so the Birchbox products are in a middle ground.

There were vanities set up throughout the store with hair and makeup products that shoppers could test out. It made the store feel much more high-end than a typical drugstore makeup aisle.

There were vanities set up throughout the store with hair and makeup products that shoppers could test out. It made the store feel much more high-end than a typical drugstore makeup aisle.
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Old Birchboxes were framed on the walls ...

Old Birchboxes were framed on the walls ...

... and there was a spot seemingly designed for Instagram.

... and there was a spot seemingly designed for Instagram.
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The back wall of the store carried more full-size products, from makeup to hair-styling tools. Everything was very clearly labeled and easy to shop.

The back wall of the store carried more full-size products, from makeup to hair-styling tools. Everything was very clearly labeled and easy to shop.

There were also a few holiday gift sets and other box sets for sale in the middle of the store.

There were also a few holiday gift sets and other box sets for sale in the middle of the store.
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The Birchbox in Duane Reade made me forget I was in a drugstore. It was bright, well-organized and clearly designed to be Instagram-friendly. It was easy to shop in, and it wasn't much more expensive than other brands found at the drugstore.

The Birchbox in Duane Reade made me forget I was in a drugstore. It was bright, well-organized and clearly designed to be Instagram-friendly. It was easy to shop in, and it wasn't much more expensive than other brands found at the drugstore.