Merle Norman Cosmetics continues rich history at HarMar Mall

A vintage photograph of Minnesota's first Merle Norman Cosmetics store, located in the New York building in downtown St. Paul, circa 1940.

Merle Norman Cosmetics today, in Roseville's HarMar Mall.

Merle Norman Cosmetics in HarMar Mall follows a long tradition of quality service that hasn’t changed since the first store opened in Santa Monica, California, in 1931.

Merle Nethercutt Norman got her start in the late 1920s when she began concocting her original skin care products that she offered to family, friends and colleagues. The young entrepreneur would demonstrate the products, from which the famous “Try before you buy” slogan arose, and it’s still the culture of the company today. 

Merle was also the influential innovator behind the before-and-after makeover. 

The huge success of Merle’s first store in Santa Monica was credited to allowing customers to enjoy free makeovers and try products liberally before they made purchases. 

Merle also encouraged women to become entrepreneurs and today there are more than 2,000 independently owned and operated retail stores nationwide. 

Merle died in 1972 but the founding philosophies remain more than eight decades later, as does her vision of carrying premium products made in the U.S.A. -- the company researches, develops, manufactures and packages it own products in Los Angeles.

The HarMar shop, owned by Kathleen Fuery, carries on the Merle Norman tradition of always promoting the “Try before you buy” model and customers love it. 

The store stocks the classic Merle Norman line and also has the newest and best in anti-aging cosmetics. 

The store also specializes in products with a tried-and-true reputation, including its skin care line specifically developed to be safe and comfortable on sensitive skin. 

The store in HarMar, just off of Highway 36 and Snelling Avenue in Roseville, also carries an array of wigs, ranging in styles and hair colors, from brunette to blond to shimmering silver. “We service a lot of cancer patients or people with specialty medical needs,” Fuery says.

Merle Norman Cosmetics in HarMar is proof that quality service stands the test of time. 

“86 years since Merle Norman founded the company, the level of service hasn’t changed,” Fuery says. “We still offer free facials to our customers.”

Last year when an adjoining store expanded, Fuery had to relocate her store in HarMar. Around the same time, a Merle Norman shop in Woodbury closed, an event that could have confused customers. 

“After being in the same location after so long, people assumed that we moved away,” she explains, adding, “We’re still here in the HarMar Mall!” Just in a newer, more inviting space.

Along with carrying the full line of cosmetics and wigs, Merle Norman also has a selection of hair-loss headwear and stylish women’s hats, which are especially popular during the Kentucky Derby season.

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