Long-standing Phoenix business lotions and potions hold the secret to rash-free success

Sharon Muir loved to talk about parabens.

“Most people don’t understand them,” she said of preservatives used in many commercial cosmetics and fragrances. “So it’s not easy to have a conversation about parabens. I can tell you that they are carcinogenic. They’re in a lot of things, and that’s kind of the reason I got into my business. ”

His business is Lotions and Potions, a nearly 50-year-old boutique that sells essential oils, wellness tinctures, and all-natural fragrances. “I have been fortunate enough to have very sensitive skin and the inability to use typical soaps and various other products,” she said. “Since I was a child. I had to be careful what I put on
on my body, and it sparked my interest in skin chemistry.

In 1972, she heard about a Californian chemist who was creating products for people with allergies to sensitive skin and to cologne. “I wrote to him and said, ‘What if I test some of your products?’ Muir said. She loved the chemist’s inventions so much that she decided to sell them. Muir dropped out of pre-med school and opened the first lotions and potions in a 215 square foot space at the Metrocenter Mall the following year.

The store was located in a section of the mall called The Alley, a group of hipster-themed kiosks next to Sears. “Our walls were round with stucco, a bit like chicken wire. There was an old photo studio and a place that made leather belts. And U.S.”

His first clients were young people from the hippie culture of the late 60s. “We were in a deep recession and these people thought that money was not important. So there were a lot of flower children coming in, and they really needed to talk. It was absolutely beautiful, a very, deeply spiritual experience. I stayed there in this little space every day for three years with no leave, and just gave love. No one had a dime under their belt, but they brought me cookies and just bared their souls.

People also came to buy lotions and potions. “Telly Savalas arrived one day,” recalls Muir.

“Another time we had Sally Field. Bob Dylan’s wife bought some essential oils and Pat McMahon came over. A lot of ordinary people came. It was a fascinating time.

Business took off fairly quickly. “It was in the 70s,” she explained. “People started to smell good. Maybe it was all the patchouli and all the incense we had been through. But very quickly I had 20 stores in very interesting places.

Muir has opened scent bars in SeaWorld parks in California and Florida; one at Busch Gardens and several on the east coast. “I had a showroom with a whole line of body care products in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. People would say to me, “Why do people want to buy perfume in a casino or a water park?” All I can tell you is that they did.

Locally, lotions and potions have appeared in Fiesta, Camelview Plaza, and Christown Spectrum malls. The chain flourished until malls began to fall out of favor in the late 1990s. Muir then began closing shops, stores, and fragrance bars in Colorado, Oregon and New York. -Mexico.

“The mall rents got too high and when this casino bought this casino they took out the scent bars. A few years ago, it downsized again, closing the rest of its stores in Phoenix and moving the flagship to North Seventh Avenue.

While the natural fragrance industry has changed, so have Muir’s customers. More and more people are now taking an interest in things like animal testing, she said.

“People would just look at me when I talked about parabens or wanted the highest possible list of natural ingredients and that no rabbit got hurt. Now, these ideas are quite popular with ordinary people. ”

Muir keeps a few novelty scents on hand, just for a laugh: soda, popcorn, dirt. This attempt at humor backfired not long ago.

“One lady was in love with the smell of dirt,” Muir said. “She wanted everything we made to smell like dirt. Maybe she was a horticulturalist. Or maybe she was a kid who loved to eat mud pies. I do not know. Either way, we’ve created a whole range of body care products for her: soap and lotion and shower gel and sugar scrub. All fragrant like dirt. She couldn’t have been happier.

The woman returned to Muir’s shop the next day, regretting her decision. “She said, ‘I like dirt, but I can’t walk around smelling it.’ I gave him a full credit refund.

Muir admitted that she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the good old days.

“I try not to think about my business story,” she said. “Because it’s so extraordinarily long and deep that if I linger over it, I become absolutely stunned.”

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