By Haley Cawthon – Reporter, Louisville Business First
Oct 21, 2020, 1:38pm EDT Updated Oct 21, 2020 2:46pm EDT
A fast-growing retail concept is opening its first store in Louisville this week.
Buff City Soap, a handmade soap and skincare brand, is opening a St. Matthews location on Thursday, Oct. 22. The new store, near Trader Joe’s within Shelbyville Road Plaza follows the opening of two other Buff City Soap locations in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Manager Sharon Dickens told me that they got the keys to the former F45 fitness studio on Oct. 5 and the 2,400-square-foot space has been transformed into a scent-lover’s paradise. You can see photos of the space in the attached gallery.
Dickens was formerly the manager of the Jeffersonville location prior to joining the team in St. Matthews.
“I’ve always been kind of a product junkie,” Dickens said, noting that she has previously worked for a skincare company and also CafePress. “I have a background in this direct, on-site production retail, because at [CafePress] we would print the products on mugs and T-shirts, box them and deliver them. It’s a similar feel to running that sort of production.”
Dickens said it was a bit of a challenge at first while opening the Jeffersonville location in August, as many people have never heard of Buff City Soap before. After building brand awareness, she said customers quickly took to the customizable, natural soap concept.
All Buff City Soap stores offer more than 30 unique and customizable scents across dozens of handcrafted soap products; including the brand’s soap bars, bath bombs, foaming hand soap and laundry soap. The brand’s products are crafted by local artisans at in-store “makeries,” which allow guests to customize the scent and ingredients used in the process to create a unique scent profile.
Each day, Buff City Soap’s makery is producing about 20 loaves of soap and each long loaf is cut into 15 bars, resulting in 300 new bars of soap a day, Dickens continued. She said the cherry almond scent has been especially popular in Jeffersonville, but each location has their own favorites, which ultimately dictates how much they make of specific scents.
“Our customers love how transparent our soap-making process is,” said Rick Kueber, franchise owner of Louisville Soap LLC, in a news release. “When they walk into our stores, they are able to select the different ingredients and scents they want in their soap products, and they are comforted by the customization that they can experience. It’s something completely unique to Buff City Soap.”
I talked with Kueber back in July about his plans to open at least 150 Buff City Soap locations within the next five years. His franchise group has signed two different development deals — one for Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee and the other for neighboring western regions.
In addition to the St. Matthews, Jeffersonville and E-town locations, there’s a fourth Buff City Soap store set to open next month at NuLu Marketplace on Market Street.
The St. Matthews store currently has 23 employees, Dickens said, and it is still hiring for part-time, full-time and seasonal positions.
Buff City Soap–St. Matthews is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The first 50 people in the new store on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week will win free soap for a year, and Buff City Soap is offering a 20% off deal.