Hundreds of people have queued almost a kilometre in downtown Auckland this morning ahead of makeup giant Sephora’s opening.
Those at the front of the queue have been outside the Queen St shop since 8.30pm yesterday.
The first two people in the queue were being given VIP treatment in a double-decker Sephora-marked bus when the Herald visited, but No.3, Grace Martin, was not only still conscious but still smiling as the sun emerged from a slumber she hadn’t shared.
The 18-year-old Aucklander was going to be among the first in a country that was “always the last to get things”.
Standing on the footpath through a cold winter’s night was part of the experience.
“It was entertaining, and we had security. And seeing the store, it just keeps me awake.”
Martin and her friend, 19-year-old Levana Gordon, No. 4, had been helped through the struggle of overnighting on a city footpath by making friends with the two women behind them, sisters Kayla Schelin, No.5, and Tyla Bekker, No.6.
The four worked together to save spots during bathroom breaks, keep warm under shared blankets and while away the long hours before dawn.
When passersby asked if their efforts were worth it, Bekker challenged them with the same question.
“I said, ‘Will it be worth you going to town and spending the money you’re going to spend?'”
Some visitors to the group were more welcome – one had dropped off bags of McDonald’s at 5am, she said.
Further back in the queue, at No.143, was another Grace.
Fifteen-year-old North Shore schoolgirl Grace McNee and her friends, fellow 15-year-olds Nathan Templeton and Izzy Sole arrived about 4am.
They were anxious to be in the first 500 – they made it easily – so they could get a free palette, Nathan said.
The palette was among many Sephora-labeled freebies, from beanies to tote bags, handed out to hardy fans this morning.
The trio wanted to sleep out, but were not allowed, McNee said.
Instead her mum and aunty accompanied them at 4am.
Mum Debra McNee said she refused to get up at “stupid o’clock”, but wanted to accompany the teens at a more reasonable hour.
“I want some sleep. But, as a mum, I was also thinking about security. Sephora have been great.”
The first customer after Sephora opened its doors at 9am to 800 fans who queued, in some cases through the night, bought just one item for herself – Marc Jacobs mascara.
Thalia Vivier, No. 45 in the queue, also bought Vitamin C serum on behalf of a friend and took home a free palette and samples from the popular makeup retailer.
And although her spend versus the time she spent in the Queen St queue – she arrived at 3.30am – seemed rather lopsided, she had no regrets.
“I only got the thing I needed because pay day is next week,” the Hallensteins distribution centre worker said.
“But being here, it sort of brings you closer to the brand.”
And in a heartwarming gesture, the 18-year-old East Aucklander was joined in her long wait by a friend who doesn’t like makeup.
Rachel Prow, 16 who, like her friend, had no sleep last night, said she had “never been a makeup fan”.
But the night’s adventure had been worth it to make her friend happy.
“She was so desperate to come, and I didn’t want her to go by herself.”
Those first in the line were promised a survival pack with a beanie, scarf and reusable coffee cup. Crepes and coffee were also being served to recognise to company’s French heritage and ownership. The company offered gifts with purchase, music and makeup demonstrations.
The French retailer has spent an estimated $5m to fit out it’s three-storey Queen St store.
It has been a rapid and razzmatazz marketing campaign in the countdown to opening.
Sephora had been giving New Zealanders a glimpse of some of the brands on offer during a tour of beauty in a double-decker bus, decked out in the brand’s black and white colours.
The international retailer, which has large stores in more than 12 countries, began advertising for local sales staff and makeup artists in April. Representatives from the company were understood to be scouting locations for its first New Zealand store early last year.
Speculation of Sephora opening a New Zealand store had been rife for the best part of five years, though the retailer always remained tight-lipped on its plans.
Sephora has quietly been running a local online store and delivering its product around the country for quite some time, and in May last year it registered Sephora New Zealand with the Companies Office, under parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.
It’s understood Sephora has expansion plans and will open a store at Sylvia Park shopping mall in Auckland before Christmas.
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