This national retail chain is rapidly growing. It just opened in Airport Road Shopping Center.

A fast-growing national chain known for its handmade plant-based soap and body products has opened its first regional site at Airport Road Shopping Center.

Dallas, Texas-based Buff City Soap opened late last month in space that previously occupied SneakerKing at the Hanover Township, Lehigh County shopping destination. Another nearby location is set to open in Quakertown, Bucks County. That franchise currently is advertising job positions.

The chain was founded in 2013 by former Memphis, Tennessee firefighter Brad Kellum who started the business venture by mixing ingredients for soaps out of his home garage, according to a news release and Memphis Commercial Appeal. The company began franchising five years later. Kellum told Commercial Appeal his future vision for the company is to become “the Starbucks of soap.”

The chain now has more than 200 stores in 30 states. Its focus is on crafting high-quality products that are alternatives to commercial soap products, which often contain chemicals, detergents, animal fats and sulfates.

Instead of calling itself a “store,” Buff City Soap calls itself a “makery.” This is mainly because staff artisans handcraft the products daily onsite.

The makery offers more than 30 unique and customizable scents across dozens of its products. Among the scents are fruity, floral, sweet, herbal and clean, according to the chain’s website. There’s also a men’s line and “unscented” products available.

Buff City is popular for its soap bars. Best sellers include “Good Morning Sunshine,” with notes of champagne and citrus fruits; “Island Nectar,” with notes of jasmine, citrus, passionfruit and exotic florals; and “Ferocious Beast,” with notes of citrus, lavender, white musk, cedarwood and amber. There’s also seasonal bars. Think “Holly Berry,” “Frosted Fir” and “Apple Spice.”

The makery includes bath bombs and “truffles,” which are smaller than bath bombs, as well as epsom salt soaks. Guests can place foaming hand soaps next to guest towels in bathrooms. Laundry soaps, scent boosters and wool dryer balls call fill laundry spaces.

A full body care line includes lip balms, body butter, scrubs and lotion bars. For men, there’s shaving bars and beard balms and oils.

Additionally, the makery has a wide assortment of bath accessories. There’s small wooden scoops to measure just the right amount of soap. There’s rectangle wooden soap dishes to dry soap bars stylishly inside showers or counter-tops. For patrons who like to go the extra mile in their daily routines, there’s also “fabric soap sleeves.” The sleeves are made of a cotton-blend fabric with two different sides to help better clean and exfoliate.

Last-minute stocking stuffers and “Under the Tree” gifts can be found both in-store and online here.

Prices are affordable. Bar soaps, bombs and foaming hand soaps cost around $8 for regular scents and extra for seasonal. The laundry line ranges $13 and up. Accessories start at $4, according to the website.

Hours at the Airport Road Shopping Center location are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

What was once a slew of vacancies at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and in some cases pre-pandemic, are finally dwindling down at the bustling shopping center.

The opening of Buff City Soap fills a space that has sat idle since SneakerKing vacated in September 2020. In recent months, the shopping center has pushed to fill even more longtime empty spaces.

These include Texas-based Wingstop, which early next year plans to open into space next to Red Wing Shoes. The site previously occupied Firehouse Subs, which left the mall in February 2019. Red Wing Shoes in late 2021 moved into space that sat vacant for more than two years after Zoup! closed in September 2019.

Trek Bicycle Allentown in late October opened in what stood as an empty storefront for years between the former Roma Ristorante space and Mattress Firm. It shuttered a previous location at 1728 Tilghman St. in Allentown in September to relocate to the shopping center.

The shopping center continues to have three additional empty spaces. Shoppers can find them at the former sites of A.C. Moore; Roma Ristorante, next to Game Stop; and Sprint, between Panera Bread and Great Clips.

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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at [email protected].