Offering a unique shopping experience, Buff City Soap, a plant-based home and personal care brand franchise, continues its rapid growth across the United States as new stores get set to open in greater Houston over the next few months.
Founded in Memphis in 2013, the company currently boasts 145 stores across 27 states, with a new Buff City location set to open in Cinco Ranch Dec. 16.
“There’s really no other interactive experience in the soap space like Buff City Soap and there’s no one that’s making every single product from our foaming hand lotion to our shampoo bars hand made in every store,” Connor Davis, spokesman for Buff City Soap West Houston, told the Houston Daily. “We are making soap every single day and that’s just out in the open. If you pop in, you'll see how it’s done, our soap makers are always more than happy to explain what they're doing and why they're doing it, what step of the process they’re in and we think that’s a really unique experience in retail.”
All products sold in stores are made animal-cruelty-free, organic, vegan and with non-GMO materials. Though other soap-makers may offer a similar makeup, Davis said Buff City is unique in that guests can watch the products in store as they are made.
While Davis and Director of Operations Andrew Davis are focused on the West Houston operations, he said they are currently partnering with another franchisee group to build out the greater Houston area, with one group taking on the eastern half and the other taking on the western half. The Cinco Ranch store marks the latest in this expansion, open just in time for holiday shopping.
"We'll make it in time for the holiday season, so Houston shoppers will have a place to get their Buff City soaps," Davis said. "It's just a really important community for us."
Among products, Buff City offers liquid hand soap, soap bars, shave bars, lotions, creams, bath salts, bath bombs, Epsom salts and powdered laundry soap. As customers enter the store, Davis said they hope to engage all of the senses with music and the aroma of freshly-made products.
“You’re going to have a sensory overload in a positive way and it’s just a really pleasant shopping experience in a world where a lot of consumers now buy online,” Davis said. “And the convenience of that can be great, but for a product like soap that you're going to be buying for your children and your family and your entire household, you want to touch, feel, smell those products in person and there’s really no way to get that virtually.”
Alongside the Soap Makery offered in every Buff City store, children are invited to decorate a bath bomb and private events or soap-making parties are offered on occasion. The company also partners with local nonprofits, schools, bands and charities.
“It starts with the product, which is chemical-free, sustainably-sourced items. We can't say that we are a responsible member of the community just by donating money, it has to be the products we’re putting out there as well,” Davis said.
After getting private equity backing in 2019, Buff City has skyrocketed from a regional chain based around Memphis to a national presence with one over 900 franchises awarded. This kind of rapid growth, especially around the number of licenses sold, is nearly unheard of in retail right now.
Private equity firm, General Atlantic, joined the ownership group in June and former Topgolf COO Craig Kessler was announced as the new Buff City CEO earlier this year.
A new Buff City location on North Shepherd is expected to open in early February with stores in Conroe, Sugar Land and Huntsville planned later next year. Another location in Pearland opened late this September.
Over the next five years, the company plans to open 20-plus stores in the greater Houston area.