I sat down with Anna Daoud McConnell, VP Product + Brand Development at Ricky’s, to get the scoop on the store’s legacy and what makes Ricky’s so much more than a chain of drugstores.
JDD: What’s the origin of Ricky’s? Where is the flagship store?
Anna Daoud McConnell: Our flagship store is in the heart of Soho (590 Broadway). The first Ricky’s location opened in 1989 and was called “Ricky Love.” It served the downtown customer — drag queens, fashionistas, [and other artsy downtown folk] and carried product that you wouldn’t typically find in any other drug store — which really created a niche in the market.
JDD: What are some of your top-selling beauty products?
ADM: Moroccanoil continues to be our number one hair care brand; however, cult-like items like Lucas Papaw, Aztec Clay, and Jao also sell extremely well. We have also seen great success with Bioderma skincare as well as social media-driven brands such as Violet Voss, Coloured Raine, and Gerard Cosmetics.
JDD: Can you talk a little about the French pharmacy products that you carry. Do you carry products from other parts of the world?
ADM: We have a few French pharmacy brands including Bioderma, Embryolisse, Klorane, European Soaps. We carry products from all over the world — including Ireland, Italy, Australia, Korea, and Japan.
JDD: What makes Ricky’s stand apart from other New York drugstores?
ADM: The product assortment is really what sets us apart from normal drug stores. We have items as mentioned above that your typical drugstore does not carry. We also carry our own private label line called RickyCare, geared toward professional hair stylists and makeup artists. Our RickyCare “No Crease Clips” are a New York Fashion Week backstage staple.
JDD: Why do you think Ricky’s has become a New York institution?
ADM: I think customers love the product mix and overall experience when coming into a Ricky’s location. You never know what you’re going to find, and that’s the beauty of shopping here — you can pick up anything from toothpaste, to a lipstick from a hot brand, to a brightly colored wig, and also discover new brands you may have never heard of.
JDD: Talk about some of the non-beauty related products. What’s the story with how Ricky’s started selling sex toys?
ADM: Originally the first Ricky’s location in the East Village began bringing in bachelorette items, catering to the Village consumer. Then, the assortment grew to full-blown adult rooms in many of our locations, and became part of Ricky’s DNA. Over the years we have also brought in other novelties like fun stationery, makeup bags, pins, buttons, and patches.
JDD: How did Halloween become such a big event for the store?
ADM: Originally the Ricky’s customer base consisted of a big drag community — so the store started carrying boas, glitter, and fake eyelashes to cater to that customer and to the Pride parade. From there, as adults started dressing up more for Halloween, the costume side of the business started to grow, and now Halloween is one of our biggest times of the year in terms of sales.