WEST LOOP — You have to wake up early to be first in line for the annual H2O+ Warehouse Sale. South Shore resident Zelia Stevens was there at 3 a.m. Saturday. She’s been coming to the sale for the last 13 years.
“We usually buy gifts, plus I like their products, so I usually buy about $100, which is quite a bit. You usually get 80 percent off,” Stevens said.
H2O+ has been hosting the public sale at its headquarters, 845 W. Madison St., for 15 years. The skin care company, founded by Cindy Melk, has been on the city’s west side for 20 years. The sale started as an event for employees and has grown every year.
“It’s a tradition. It’s a family activity. People camp out, they get pizza, they sit there half the night and then get to shop for great discounts,” said Jim McLaughlin, H2O+'s vice president of operations. “When I got here this morning at 5:30, the line was definitely around the front of the building and halfway down Peoria. It’s exciting to see. Every year we have more participants in the sale.”
Once inside the warehouse, shoppers had hundreds of items to choose from: brand new products, excess inventory, leftover seasonal items, fragrances created especially for the warehouse sale, gift sets, jumbo sizes and sample sizes — all at a substantial discount. One of the company's most popular products, Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment, which retails for $36, was available for $12.
And shoppers feel good knowing that they’re shopping locally.
“Of all the products we make, we probably make 95-98 percent of them right here in the building. There’s a few that we don’t make, that we don’t have the machinery to do,” said Rick Ruffolo, H2O+'s president and CEO.
H2O+ products that are made in Chicago are used all over the world.
“This brand is now distributed and marketed in 40 countries around the world from right here. We make the product and ship it all over the world,” Ruffolo said.
Merchandise that’s not sold during the warehouse sale is donated to women’s shelters.
Shoppers may soon have the chance to shop at the factory year-round. Ruffolo says he would like to see a store built in what’s now a garage space near the corner of Peoria and Monroe.