I visited the Barney's in Miami recently, expecting the full Malle line. Their selection was Outrageous - literally.
A Barneys NY opened in my city just short of two years ago, to much fanfare. The perfume and cosmetics level was like a fairyland, carrying all the niche and hard to find brands that the likes of Macy's or even Saks had never dreamed of. And..... OMG, a Frederic Malle boutique! Complete with the cylindrical chambers so reminiscent of the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen's "Sleeper". I bought a few things and made regular stops in every couple of weeks. The sales people were, by and large, better than the norm. If they didn't have particular knowledge of the brand you were interested in, they'd go to great lengths to put you in touch with someone who did. The couple of specialists for the Frederic Malle area were also very well versed in everything else that was carried in the fragrance department.
Fast foward to 2009. A visit last week to Barneys was very typical of recent times. There was a brand new S/A in the FM boutique, the latest comer through their revolving door. Ever since the original two departed (less than a year after opening), there hasn't been a specialist in the Malles that has stayed for more than a couple of months, or so it seems.
In the main fragrance area, I was "helped" by an S/A who seemed panicked by any question I brought up about any line. A query like "when will you be getting in xxxx by zzzz" brought the response "we just have what you see in front of you" - that's verbatim, by the way - about five times in a row. If I'd asked anything about Le Labo, I bet they would have had a complete breakdown.
I could go on but it disheartens me. I didn't stay long and only tried on one thing. The irony is that Barneys carries about three-quarters of the niche stuff that Luckyscent does (the things that interest me, anyway), and they're the only brick and mortar purveyor of those items in this part of the world. But I'd rather order through Luckyscent during a free shipping promo, get samples along with my order, and wait a few days for the satisfaction - and that's really saying something for me, an instant gratification junkie if there ever was one.
Hey Barneys, wise the f*ck up! You have a treasure trove and you could make a tidy profit from the perfume addicts who abound in this city. Such a steep decline in such a short time. It's not too late to reverse course, but you're heading towards the iceberg fast.
Last edited by Jardanel; 8th August 2009 at 12:11 AM.
I visited the Barney's in Miami recently, expecting the full Malle line. Their selection was Outrageous - literally.
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You wouldn't be referring to Seattle would you? I recently complained about a particular SA at the Barneys NY in Seattle who was truly awful, and has probably cost them a fortune in sales.
I have been to Barneys in Chicago many times. The staff was always helpful and knowledgeable - and they had an excellent Malle rep.
The Barneys in Las Vegas also had a top notch staff.
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They don't give you samples?
Barneys Boston always gives me tons of samples...and if they don't have a sample from the house itself, they're always happy to spray some of the tester into a vial for me. Of all the brick-and-mortar outfits, they are by far the most generous in this regard.
Saks, Neiman Marcus...they won't give you anything, though they'll politely tell you they have nothing.
As for Macy's...well, let's just say you'll get a very large eye roll if you ask for a sample.
Be happy that you have a Barney's regardless of uninformed SA's. You could be here in Cornflake County perusing frags that have sitting out in heat and light for years on end in our Dillard's and Herberger's.
I thank God we have the internet.
I like the San Francisco Barneys. Great selection, even if new releases seem to arrive a little slow sometimes (no surprise, considering Barneys' well-publicized money woes). They're generally knowledgeable (if I'm there late and the perfume-specialist SA's are gone and the make-up SA's are filling in, they may know a bit less, but they're still friendly and helpful and at least know their top sellers). The problem is that it's always deserted. Good for me, but bad for the lasting power of the store.
Do any merchandise experts here know why they hide the cosmetics in the basement, while every other department store in the world puts in up front and center on the main floor?
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However, I prefer Barney's basement. I feel like I can take my time down there, and I'm not being jostled by people short-cutting thru the cosmetics department on their way into or out of the store. I like that it feels like a calm place of retreat, where I can focus on what my nose is trying to tell me. Plus, their fragrance department is much, MUCH larger than the typical department store's (they've got that big home fragrances section too). They need the extra room! There is also the possibility of a security issue. Have you ever noticed how fine jewelry is usually deep in the center of the store, far from all exits? Macy's might not care so much if a Gwen Stefani tester walks out the door just three feet away. But a bottle of Nasomatto?
So those are my guesses. I'd be curious to hear what BNers with SA experience have to say.
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It's unfortunate when the lights are on but there's nobody home. We only have a fraction of the goods LS carries here on the ground, but the software is in place - some key personnel, friendly and informed SAs in the handful of outlets carrying niche lines. I enjoy having actual discussions about scents with some of these guys and gals.
Re: Malle, we have just one counter here in the Dries van Noten Boutique but the wholeline is present and accounted for. I believe this is the case in another city somewhere - saw it mentioned here within the last few days? Maybe there is some corporate connection of sorts? Matt - re SNG, specifically, if Escentuals aren't going to carry FM you could consider talking to Club 21 as they carry van Noten? The Men's side of Club 21 carries CdG and used to carry AdP line - tell them to get their act together
PS I think we will have a Barney's NY in a new property in Beijing soon - I was talking to the developer and I'm pretty sure it was Barneys - maybe Saks? Out of the question buying there, though, tax on perfume in PRC is just plain silly.
Last edited by mr. reasonable; 8th August 2009 at 10:52 AM. Reason: PS
I've been to the Barneys in Seattle, in both incarnations and they were both poorly staffed. However, the Barneys in NY is a gem. The sales staff in the basement fragrance department, as well as the ones in the main floor men's department, are great: informed and friendly.
With the current retail sales meltdown, I can't imagine the FM counter being so busy. That said, when the going get's tough, the SAs need to try harder. Nothing sells better than helpful and friendly SAs.
Barneys loss, I guess.
Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 8th August 2009 at 05:49 PM.
For sale. Carnal Flower and Vero Profumo Onda.
At most department stores, the SAs who do a good job get promoted to another department. Potential future managers should know about all the departments. It's good for them even if it's frustrating for us.
Definitely agree with you on this one. NYC Barneys was a real pleasure to shop at. I ended up walking out with stuff I never intended to purchase, which to me is the mark of a great staff
I could get into the story about the Seattle fragrance SA but it's fairly typical.. Store was empty.. the SA was rude, condescending and unwilling to give me the time of day. And I'm not a high-maintenance guy, nor do I need to be catered to.
I guess I'm lucky that most of the SAs at my local Barneys are more like your original experience, although the "revolving door" in the FM department is the same. And the newer ones there are among the least knowledgeable, even of their own line...
But, what a gem:
rotflmao, as I'm told one says.
Last edited by JaimeB; 10th August 2009 at 07:18 AM.
Yr good bud,
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Qui nihil potest sperare, desperet nihil.
Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing.
I'm really looking forward to shopping the "new" Barneys in Chicago in a couple weeks (for the basenotes world wide meet) and I've got my fingers crossed that pettrucijs' experience will be ours as well! Last I shopped the Chicago Barneys, they were still in their old building, the SA's were exceptional and their frag dept. was bulging at the seams...now I'm crossing my toes too! Chicagoans are fairly well known for their Midwestern friendliness, I'm hoping Barneys will carry that on through their SA's! Of course we'll report back after our excursion.
The only time I really need the assistance of an SA, is when I want to purchase what I have selected. I arrive having done my homework and don't rely on an SA to furnish me with info or to convince me of anything. I know I am a minority here, but for me, I am indifferent to SAs really. If they are rude or friendly, it really doesn't make much difference to me. Just ring up my purchase please, and I will be on my way.
I went to Barneys this weekend and the SA couldnt give me any of the notes for a L'artisan scent....pretty sad!
I haven't shopped the new Barneys either.. but you're right - the old one was spectacular. Didn't they just move across the street on Oak?
Last time I visited I picked up a bottle of AdP Colonia Assoluta, an AdP candle and some soaps, shampoo, etc. They actually included another bag full of samples. Needless to say, I didn't wear any of the fragrances I was traveling with.
Oh, and I only intended on getting the fragrance - it was just too difficult to say "no" to the other stuff Goes to show what a great SA can do for the company.
This is my typical approach as well, not being high-maintenance or wishing to come off as difficult. I don't need to be catered to, though if the SA is passionate, knowledgeable, friendly (and sexy helps too) I'll find myself spending a bit more time.. and, ultimately, money
The two SA's I deal with most at the Boston Barney's have really good knowledge not only of the scents they have on sale but the other things they don't sell. The SA and I on Friday had a long conversation about the Tom Ford Private Collection which had just arrived at Neiman-Marcus a month or so ago. Besides the two I regualrly deal with there are two other SA's at Barney's Boston that also show decent knowledge although one of them and I have completely opposite tastes in scent.
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The Barneys in New York City never gives me samples not once even when I bought something.
Their SA's are nice for most part but can be annoying keep pushing stuff I am not really interested.
The most annoying thing is they will not let me spray the bottles they intend to spray it themselves, which I find so annoying.
Don't complaint, but be thankful that you have a Barneys at your disposal, literally. I have to go to Vegas to get anything that I want to get my hands on, and that's 4 hours away. And most of the time, a traffic ticket comes along with a visit to Barneys or Guerlain Boutique ;-), but I don't mind, really.
Last edited by Pug911; 11th August 2009 at 02:46 AM.
Wouldn't it be a gas if Mr. Malle could have a secret webcam on each of his boutiques which are in a Barneys location? Then he could see and hear for himself the listless, clueless "service". But being a smart guy, he would notice before anything else the absence of customers during most of the day.
Little vignette about Malle samples here: I was in the fragrance department of another department store, where an S/A was looking through and commenting on a stack of samples from the Malle boutique at Barneys. I'm talking about wrapped, branded, enchantillon-from-the-company samples, not just something sprayed into a vial. And where had she gotten these samples? From her conversation, it seems, she has a friend who is an S/A at Barneys, who knows she "just adores" certain Frederic Malle scents.
Good going, Barneys. I paid full price for fragrances at your store (including those from the F. Malle boutique) more than a few times and was never offered so much as one sample, even though I expressed interest in a specific scent - any smart business person would have sent me home with a sufficient quantity of said scent to get hooked on so I would come back for that one too. But now I know where the samples are going.
Last edited by Jardanel; 10th August 2009 at 10:01 PM.
I had a great time at Barneys in Beverly Hills. There was a rep from L'Artisan Parfumeur who helped me sort through their line, and I actually found one I thought I might like. So he created a sample bottle so I could test it at home. Then I moved to the other end of the counter, and spoke with a woman sales rep who was fun to talk with. We even talked about frags they didn't carry. Turns out she has a mega collection at home, and reads Basenotes and Makeup Alley.
BTW, I don't expect sales reps to know the notes in a fragrance. I only ask they are have a general knowledge about fragrance types and can help me by making suggestions when I describe a type.