Tuesday, October 3, 2023

This local cosmetics store is closing – it’s been around for a long while

Merle Norman on Monticello Avenue will close in March 2020.. (WYDaily/Courtesy Merle Norman Boutique & Bags Facebook)
Merle Norman on Monticello Avenue will close in March 2020. (WYDaily/Courtesy Merle Norman Boutique & Bags Facebook)

There has been a Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Williamsburg since 1972, but come March the area will be without. 

Diane Webb, the current owner, said Tuesday she would be closing her location on Monticello Avenue in March 2020 so she can retire. Webb has owned the location since 2000 when she moved to the area.

Prior to her coming to Williamsburg, there was another Merle Norman Studio in Williamsburg that closed in 1997.

“My kids were getting older and I was looking for something to do where it would be my own business and I could be the chick in charge,” she said. “So I started the process and opened a brand new studio from scratch.”

The company started in 1931 in Santa Monica, California, where a young woman, Merle Norman, began sharing her skin care products with family and friends, according to the company’s website. Norman started the concept “try before you buy” by demonstrating the products on herself before customers bought them. 

Now, Merle Norman products are only sold over the counter at locations such as Webb’s. While each location is part of a franchise, Webb said it’s individually owned.

Webb said she had used Merle Norman products for a long time before opening the studio and she’s come to learn how important the company has become to generations of women. 

“It’s one of those makeups that’s passed down in families,” she said. “It usually means you use it because your mother used it and her mother used it. It’s nice to know that [customers] have trusted me and felt good coming in here.”

In addition, the location has provided a wig service for women undergoing medical treatments and has been a popular piercing station as well.

Webb said she always felt proud to be part of the piercing experiences for young women. 

“I’m the only one who does ear piercing in the studio and when I first opened I would get these little local girls come in for their first ear piercings,” she said. “They would bring their whole family and a video camera sometimes. And now, I started realizing five or six years ago these same girls have grown up and started coming in for their second piercings.”

Webb said she was also proud of the consignment handbag service she started at the location 12 years ago.

But after all this time and being involved in many important beauty moments for women young and old, Webb said it’s time for her to retire. 

She said she is excited to have a less structured schedule and plans to spend her time traveling and playing pickleball. 

The store will remain operational until the end of March.

“What I’ll remember is just the friendships in general,” Webb said. “The loyal customer base I have and knowing that people not only trusted the brand but trusted me.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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