Marking the completion of its Westhampton Commons development, Thalhimer Realty Partners has leased out the last of its commercial spaces to two new-to-market beauty industry brands.
The mixed-use development at Patterson and Libbie avenues has signed Vestique, a women’s fashion boutique chain, and Drybar, a hair salon franchise.
The 250,000-square-foot, mixed-use building, which replaces one of two structures that made up the school, includes 128 apartments and has attracted 120 applicants for those units, TRP’s Jason Guillot said.
In addition to the maxed-out commercial section, Westhampton Commons also includes office tenants Raymond James & Associates, Joyner Fine Properties and University of Richmond’s 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’s active.”
Still in its permitting phase, the new Vestique will be the North Carolina-based company’s 12th brick-and-mortar establishment and its first store in Virginia.
The 1,300-square-foot store will be staffed by one full-time employee, as well as five to 10 part-timers. Referred to as 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. The store’s prices for items range from $5 to $50 and up.
The business was launched in 2010 by Morgan Lashley and Caroline Dunham. The two owners, both 37, had looked to expand into Richmond since late 2014, Lashley said, attracted to the city’s growth and small town atmosphere.
Before Westhampton Commons, the owners considered opening in Short Pump and had also looked at the Libbie-and-Grove area and Carytown as potential options. They said the Westhampton Commons space suited their needs well. Thalhimer’s Annie O’Connor served as the broker.
“We really liked the co-tenancy,” Lashley said of the new location. “The fact that Drybar is going in next door is great, because that’s our demographic.”
Another new-to-Richmond brand, Drybar is making its entry into Richmond by way of 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 her public accounting career in Norfolk.
A decade-long member and later a chapter president of Coastal Virginia’s Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Verfurth said she was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the women she encountered.
Like Vestique’s owners, Verfurth also considered a variety of locations in Richmond. She found out about Westhampton Commons through CREW Richmond member Danielle Beckstoffer, a Thalhimer agent who connected her with colleague James Ashby IV, who assisted in the deal.
At first, Verfurth almost didn’t consider the location, as she said it did not meet her business and infrastructure needs. However, she described Guillot as a great help in altering the space to accommodate a salon.
Construction on the 1,800-square-foot space began in April. With 11 chairs and four wash stations, Verfurth said customers will be able to enjoy a laid-back experience complemented with a mimosa or champagne. An ABC license for the location is pending.
Drybar does not cut or color hair but instead focuses on blowouts, an approach Verfurth said can save guests time and money. A blowout costs $49 and takes about 45 minutes, according to the franchise’s website.
The new Richmond location will open on July 22 with 12 to 18 trained stylists. Verfurth said she’s looking to hire up to 40 employees.
As for Vestique, Lashley expects the store to be ready sometime next fall, following the opening of its 11th store in Cary, North Carolina.
Plans include a continued focus on e-commerce, a portion of the business that Lashley said grew considerably in recent years — especially during the lockdown era of the pandemic.
“This year has been a roller coaster,” Lashley said. “We’ve had some good months, we’ve had some bad months. We’re just hoping to end the year flat.”
Current shipping costs and predictions of an impending recession have prompted some changes to their business model, such as a reduction in inventory. However, Lashley sees this as potentially valued by clients, lessening the likelihood of identical outfits between customers.
Drybar’s Verfurth also acknowledged pandemic-caused pains to her business, but noted ambitions to expand with multiple locations across Richmond as well as southeastern Virginia.
Of the Westhampton Commons opening, she said, “The buzz is good. I’ve had a lot of enthusiasm from other local business, from people on Instagram.”