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Fast-growing dental startup picks Springfield for shop

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Last edited 2:33 p.m., Oct. 10, 2018

An online dental startup that’s quickly growing its store portfolio is bringing one of its shops to Springfield.

SmileDirectClub, which was founded in 2014 by two 20-something entrepreneurs, is planning an Oct. 10 opening for a SmileShop at 1839 E. Independence St. in the James River Towne Center next to Walmart Supercenter, said company spokeswoman Randi Katzman.

“SmileDirectClub is an at-home clear aligner company, she said, noting "the whole point of it is to cut out the middleman" of an orthodontist's office.

At SmileShops, customers have 3D scans of their teeth taken and then receive an email showing how their teeth could be transformed by aligners. SmileDirectClub sells the aligners, and customers on average wear them for six to nine month to straighten their teeth, Katzman said.

In the SmileDirectClub model, stores serve as a more efficient way to receive the aligners, she said, compared with customers who purchase kits through the company’s website.

“We have our own labs where they’re personally crafted,” Katzman said of the aligners.

The Springfield SmileShop is among more than 150 the company expects to have open by year’s end. Katzman said there are currently 140 in operation. The company employs a team of dentists and orthodontists who connect remotely with SmileDirectClub customers.

“‘We’re trying to hit areas that maybe have shown interest or bigger areas that we don’t have shops in yet,” she said.

Similar to other locations, SmileDirectClub leases space within a hair salon for the Springfield SmileShop. The local SmileShop is located inside Sola Salon Studios.

“The space is the right size,” she said of the leasing strategy. “With salons, you can lease out chairs.”

Katzman declined to disclose the company’s revenue figures. In an April 2017 Inc. magazine article, founders Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman said the company was valued at $275 million.

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