By Mario Toneguzzi
Lemongrass House is bringing the experience of Thailand to Vancouver, opening its first retail store in Canada.
The flagship store, located in the city’s historic Gastown neighbourhood, recently opened its doors and offers consumers natural, handmade, premium spa products from the global brand.
Maxine Druker and Ben Horne are co-owners of the store.
Druker said the products are hand-produced in Thailand and all of the products are signed by the people who made them.
“They’re a real artisan product,” she said.
“It’s everything you need for your body from head to toe.”
Druker said the store was specially designed to bring some of the beauty, style and delights of Thailand to Vancouver. It engages the senses and charms the spirit from the moment a customer walks through the door.
The store carries about 1,200 products “for every body because we have products for kids and pregnant moms - even dogs,” she said.
This is the first time that the Lemongrass House brand has been available for purchase in Canada. Along with retail stores in 17 countries around the world, Lemongrass House products are being used in some of the world’s top hotels and spas, said Horne.
“Although we sell to spas and hotels, the concept is that people can take their own spa products home with them,” said Druker.
“We are the first retail outlet Lemongrass House in North America,” added Horne.
The spa and personal care products are all-natural and handmade, created by Thai artisans.
“The products are safe for the human body and safe for the planet,” said Druker, adding that the brand is a natural fit for Vancouver.
“Our goal is to have a retail presence across Canada basically in big cities. But obviously we’re starting out and this is our first store and it’s a new brand so we can’t expand too quickly,” said Horne.
“We want to concentrate on the retail presence in Vancouver but also an online, ecommerce presence. Having said that, we’re selling an experience. We’re selling a smell. We’re selling a shampoo. The retail store in Vancouver is an opportunity to introduce people to the brand and the concept and building on the success of that store we will be expanding. We’d like to open a store in Toronto. We’d like to open a store in Edmonton.”
Founded by Bobby and Palita Duchowny, Lemongrass House has grown to become a leading provider of handmade spa products to the world's top hotels and spas, the company says on its website.
“Bobby was born in Malibu, California, and in 1996 he came to Thailand on a movie location assignment, fell in love with the country and decided to stay. He was introduced to an organic farming project and, using his background in aromatherapy that he acquired in the U.S., became interested in extracting pure plant oils from their crops,” says the website.
“Bobby and Palita started making small batches of natural insecticide, using Neem Oil, in the kitchen of their apartment and sold it at the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. UNICEF in Thailand heard about them and placed large orders for their signature mosquito spray for use by their teams working in the field. Riding on this success, they relocated to Surin Beach in Phuket and in 2000 started providing premium spa products to the local hotel operations.”
The company says Lemongrass House is a major manufacturer of spa products for some of the world’s top hotels and spas such as Four Seasons Resorts, Hilton Hotels, Banyan Tree and Le Meridien, in 30 countries.
It has more than 50 retail stores in 17 countries. All products are blended and produced in a facility in Cherng Talay, Phuket.
Editor's note: Vancouver-based Cutler designed the Vancouver store.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.