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Full Version: anyone have this retail problem...............?
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I've been meaning to ask you all if you've ever encountered this problem concerning retailing: former stylists or nail techs who quit the business, but are still licensed, buying products at our professional cost for friends and relatives?

It seems like I'm encountering this more and more over the years as people pass their state boards, but then either never start the business or quit the business. I have countless clients who tell me their Auntie, sister, neighbor or coworker gets them their OPI polish (or lotion, hair products, etc.) at cost, which is why they aren't buying it from me. I even have 1 client whose sister is licensed (non-practising and working a corporate job) and she gets products for her coworkers….one of which happens to be another client of mine!

And to make matters worse, she actually brings her (my client) into the professional supply house to shop for her products! The supply house says they cannot do anything about it because this woman has her license and while I've never had the good fortune to walk into the place when the 2 of them were there, I did have that happen in the past with someone else. I ratted them off to the store manager, then called the stores' corporate headquarters to lodge a complaint, which as far as I know lead no where. They just want their sales to be up. So I took my business from that store and shopped online.

Depending on the answers, this may make a good think carefully and give me your best response on IF you also experienced this problem AND what you did to handle it?

Many thanks!

Jill Wright
Bowling Green, KY.
I know its done but what can we do about it? We're already finding out that the nail co.'s are much more interested in their fiscal bottom line than they are keeping professional products in the hands of professionals. It's even been talked about on here how nail techs will bring their clients with them to nail shows so they can buy products. How do you fight it when the #1, the co.'s themselves don't care, #2, the so called professionals HELP unlicensed people buy pro products? The stores aren't ethical enough to stop them or to even care, imo. OPI used to actively fight diversion but since it's literally sold at all the big box make up stores now, there's no way to stop it now. It's not diversion there, tho, they have beauty salons in those stores, *wink*.

The co.'s see the buying otc public as a new source of revenue, previously untapped as well as it is today. Just look at how readily available to the new gel polishes well known co. is STILL saying his product is ONLY sold to professionals and we all know that's not the case.

Granted, all the hair and nail care products haven't stopped people from coming to us, but imo, it's the principle of the matter. I saw pro hair products in Ross, even! It was the same price if not cheaper than I'd pay for it to get it at my cost thru my salon......*throwing up my hands* can't fight it.
Come on ladies really??? I think I can go in and buy my mom, cousin, sister, mother-in-law, and grandma whatever I want to and not charge them extra if they feel like giving me money for it I never let them give me more than I paid. It’s my right as a pro to buy product for whoever I choose to. I pay the fees and don’t give them product that will need a professional brain( i.e. color, developer, or any sog's) to use, but seriously if they just want some OPI lotion, shampoo, or any polish I will get it for them with no up charge. Why should I stop getting them products just so random Chain Mart Clips can sale them some Paul Mitchell? Sorry to rant but I’m licensed and have a 9-5 er job as well. I’m just saying it’s a free country and I can buy product for whoever I want and don’t need to hear all the complaints about it. Jeez you can buy most PRO hair products at Target now so why not get it for them.
I too am licensed, but rarely do nails anymore. I still buy all of my own stuff at the beauty supply. I also purchase for my mom and my sister in law. However, I do draw the line at friends, coworkers, random people, etc.

I guess I don't see how buying for family is any different than being in a shop and giving them a family discount on the product...or at cost. I do think that some people ARE taking advantage of the opportunity, but no matter what (and no matter the industry) there are always those who will do that, or find away around any of the rules.


I think its just one of those perks of having a friend in the business. I wouldn't charge my friends and family that 100% markup on our retail products either. Because I know them, love them, and want to help them too. Its again, a bonus to knowing someone like us.
My aunt works in the grocery business. I reap the benefits of that by getting first pick of things at her cost. My friend works at Ikea. I get deals for that too. And my Husband works with a large Hotel chain and he gives out Friends and Family discounts. No biggie in the end.
Interesting... I don't see a problem with it for non-pro-only products, but... I don't spend my business time ordering and distributing products for friends and family. :roll: I have one client I do services for at my cost (my aunt), but if she wants a retail product, she pays full price, and frankly, if I offered her a discount I don't think she'd take me up on it. I have a friend who has become a client - I will give her free art on her service, but she too pays full price for retail.

It doesn't bother me at all that there are people out there getting their products at wholesale - but I like to keep my job and family/social lives separate.
I agree...this is going too far! Giving my family, friends, or whom ever I want a discount is my choice! I enjoy some of the discounts I get from them on other things as well! It's a nice trade sometimes. Now would I get them products with chemicals in them that could harm them if used improperly? Absolutely not! These are the things we are licensed for, but as for shampoo, conditioner, polish or lotions, pfffffffff no problem!! After all, this is stuff anyone can use and get. Might as well lend a helping hand! I do not rely on retail to support me. This is an added bonus to my income. It does not hurt me at all. In fact it helps a lot! Big Grin
In general, I don't have a problem with professionals getting the hair products, cuticle oils, polishes, etc. for their friends and family members. I have a few clients who have connections with beauty professionals too, and I just tell them to have their friend/family member get the oil for them or whatever. ALTHOUGH, I might say "Hey, take this bottle of oil with you so you can use it right away" and I might sell it to them for my cost.

BUT, I can see why Jill would be irked that her client is getting all her retail at cost from someone else, especially if she does a lot of retail sales and it feels like it's cutting into her bottom line.
I don't see it as any different than buying the same thing they can get from us (at cost or retail) from Walgreens or wherever else they get it. They may buy elsewhere because they think about it (forgetting all about it when they are in our chairs). Clients will shop wherever they are going to shop. We can't require them to purchase from us just because they are our clients.
For those of us still working as nail techs, selling retell is sometimes the difference between a good week and a difficult week. Just yesterday I sold to one client over a hundred dollars worth of lotion. Would I be upset if she had bought it somewhere else? you betcha! Small business is the backbone of this country and by buying for every Jane, Sally and Lisa out there at cost we are cutting off our nose to spite our face. Will it be a problem when you have to close up your shop because your clients have said " oh my friend used to be a nail tech and she will get it for me at cost." which will ease into " my friend who gets my products at cost is going to do my nails for free.". Just a matter of time. All of these semi retired or non-working pros will do that to keep their skill level up. Family members are a different issue, yes you should buy for them at cost or if not immediate family, half of full retail cost.
All of that being said, I try to retail things they are not going to see at the big box stores. And yes their is product out there that isn't in those places. Do your home work and search them out. The lotion I sold to the lady was Nordic Care foot cream. Best stuff ever.


I still know you gals n guys would take a discount from a friend or family member. If my husband gave you the friends n family paper to use at any Marriott for your entire stay, are you telling me you would not take it. So you would rather pay up to 60% more? Really?
I would be very worried if my business relied on retail sales to stay open. Only because we see or I do for that matter, the same people every 2 weeks. How much lotion or polish or oil are they buying each time? Most of them, are not buying at all. So my business relies on service.
You can't compare apple to oranges. In the hotel business they are going to recoup the discount from restaurant and gift shop sales. Don't see a discount there.
In response to to Jill's original post. I educate my clients on the benefits of buying from me. In other words the stock is not old or rancid. Some of the stuff sitting on the big box shelves might be from a supply house who sold out. I stock things that are high quality and not found on every street corner.
All of our trade mags, recommend that we retail. I retail ALL the time. Yes, not every client is buying everyday, but they do buy regularly! And they buy more than just a $8.00 dollar bottle of cuticle oil.
It is a slap in the face when our fellow semi-retired professionals do this. If they were still in the business they would be up in arms over this issue.
So educate your clients on the benefits or buying from you. They are already in the chair, so ask or demonstrate the newest product you have. I do a lot of the sog, and refuse to do it on someone who is not applying oil daily. And no they don't go elsewhere when I do this. Again education is the key.


I think I can compare apples and oranges because they're still fruit. Just like a hotel and a salon are still a business with add ons. I'm not going to debate how hotel business works and how they cannot recoup that money.. It's just like I have said before, we all reap the benefits of our friends and families employment. I think if it's that big of a deal that a tiny few are getting friend n family retail perks, then you should not barter with anyone, you should not shop a sale when another store sells full price, you should not use coupons when you can pay retail, and you can't take a friend up on an offer to shop their retail employer at the bonus discount. To do all of these things takes money from the bottom line of someone else's store. But before we say I can't compare coupons and sales to shampoo and cuticle oil, I will say I can, they are both retail, and the clients getting it at cost are essentially in possession of a coupon that coupon being the friend. Not any different than a salon 2 doors down throwing the MSRP out the window and selling for way cheaper. Which anyone can do.
This is why my own personal business relies on my service revenue. Retail add on is not a huge money maker for a lot of techs who are getting a whopping 10% of sales and that depends on how the salon does retail pay. In mine you have to sell over $500 a month to get any pay and it's 10%. My regulars are never going to buy $500 worth of oil or lotion in every month, but that's just me.
I have to agree with sobeit on this. Hey if someone wants to give me a discount, on hotel, fixing my car, laying tile, tanning or whatever, it is my choice to take it. Chances are, I'm gonna take the discount!! And, it is my choice to buy things at a discount for my friends and family. I even buy stuff for my really good clients and give to them for cost. Fortunately, I dont rely or even count on retail to earn my living but none the less, I would find it hard to believe that a person exists in the world who has never taken up an offer of a discount.
i think we cant control anything beyond our realm. there are no guarantees and if i want to buy my family or friends things from the supply house.. i will..
now that i got all the cattiness

we really cant control if they go to walmart or petsmart or friend for supplies.
i dont rely on retail that i have to make sure there is no interrupting factor involved. i dont really stock bottles of polish for sale and the like. it sits on the shelf for the most part.
i retail what i know is needed.. cuticle oil, lotion and rejuvicote. apart from those necessities i may have a few random retail items on the shelf but they just dont really sell.
also i feel selling retail is an art and either you work at it, got it or you dont and you wont. yes we should all be aggresivly selling items to make more money but in this day and time you have to be savy about what you stock, afterall, you can buy many pro only items at the asian nail supply (cnd everything,several pro polish lines, gellish, several gel and acrylic lines that are pro) no lic required and there is sallys too, now our walmart is stocking big sexy hair products and the like..