Not snobbish at all.
Discerning would be the better term.
I hadn't really set foot in one of the bigger department store fragrance sections until the other day. This was The Bay in Vancouver (on Granville). What really puts me off is the pushiness I've seen in the past and lack of cooperation with what the customer really wants. Nothing new in my experience except for a few details here and there, but I thought I'd share nonetheless.
So I hope this doesn't sound snobby, but I went into The Bay to try the Mugler A*Men Pure Malt and several Annick Goutal (Les Orientalistes). Immediately one of the SA's ushered me over to smell Givenchy Play and Play Intense. I told her Play was boring and Play Intense was boring with a touch of something mildly interesting, but these weren't for me. I felt like I was swimming against the current, being pulled out to the sea of mediocrity.
I wandered away to smell Antaeus - mostly to see how bastardized its become with reformulation. Despite the reformulation(s) it was still the best fragrance I smelled in the store that day. So the SA catches up to me.. "Have you tried Pi Neo?" I said "No, thanks.. I'm really not interested". "Oh but you must!" So I did.. and it didn't do anything for me. I made a remark that everything seems to want to be like Aqua di Gio and Cool Water these days and that I could appreciate D&G The One - barely. Apparently that was her son's favorite fragrance and immediately I think I was put on the s**t list.
Much to my surprise all of the best fragrances weren't in "Men's Fragrances". They were scattered amongst the various kiosks (YSL, Chanel, Boucheron, Dior) and in "Ladies' Fragrances". A Chanel SA told me that Bois des Iles and Coromandel are both very feminine and that she couldn't imagine a man wearing them - especially a "macho" guy like myself (?) I said I'd happily wear either. I told her I used to enjoy Platinum Egoiste but preferred Pour Monsieur and Egoiste. She told me she dated a guy "like.. 20 years ago!" who wore those - well good for her It was funny how she said "THESE are the ones you're looking for".. "THESE are for ladies only." I also had my pronunciation corrected, incorrectly, several times.
So anyhow, I got a chance to try some of the Annick Goutal line and felt like I had to leave before they started pressuring me to get out. I really wanted to stay and check things out a bit more but my head was really spinning after inhaling the Givenchy Play, Pi Neo, Armani Attitude Extreme, etc. etc.. I don't think there's any way I'll be returning to The Bay, Macy's, Dillard's, etc. to look at their fragrances. It was also shocking to note the PRICES were outrageous. To put it in perspective, I purchased two 100ml Parfumerie Generale fragrances for $280 CAD earlier that day and was shocked to see the insane prices for a lot of this generic, bland, uninspiring garbage.
Again, if this sounds snobbish I apologize.. but taking cost:benefit and overall shopping experience into consideration it's pretty simple what my next moves are, going forward. Thanks for reading.
Not snobbish at all.
Discerning would be the better term.
I don't find any snobbery in what you're saying here. You gave them a chance but weren't treated well.
My personal "ethical code" dictates that if I receive good service in a bricks-and-mortar perfume shop, I'll try to buy from them and not from an online merchant who can undercut the price. But when I have an experience like the one you've described, I feel entitled (maybe even "compelled") to spend my money elsewhere.
(Did you like anything in the Les Orientalistes line?)
Last edited by PaulSC; 3rd September 2009 at 06:45 PM.
Spray it, don’t say it…
I had no idea The Bay carried Annick Goutal's Les Orientalistes. Wow, hopefully this goes for all shops of theirs ( or at least the main ones in each city)
I know SA's are just doing their job, but ugh, I know how annoying being constantly moved away from what you WANT to smell is. Whenever I head into our local Bay I usually make a trade offer with my mother - I take my mom out for clothes shopping and lunch if she'll distract the SA's while I sniff some fragrances. They assume I'm being dragged in-tow by her, leaving me free to smell what I like while they attempt to sell her stuff she could care less about!
In general, my experience has been quite similar to yours:
1. Older fragrances have a tendency to stand out as more diverse and original than the newer releases, even if they've been reformulated to death.
2. Despite the much-touted difference in designer and niche pricing, most designer scents are only 10% to 25% cheaper than their niche equivalents.
3. In a designer section, the mens' section is often quite impoverished compared to the womens in terms of the variety and quality of what's on offer. "Unisex" is an alien concept to many SA's.
I'm seconding PaulSC's ethical code - it works very well for me too.
Anthony, sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry, nicht wahr?
That SA who was steering you into the Givenchys reminds me of so many experiences of my own.
Recently, I was in a Nordstroms where the sales rep repeatedly tried to push the newest Omnia clone on me - green one, Jade or whatever. I declined politely at first, and then felt pushed. So I fixed her with a steady stare and just said "I've smelled it before. It's shitty".
And no, friend Anthony, you are NOT a snob.
Most of the SA's scratch their head when I ask for Kouros. Be lucky you have access to Antaeus.
Not a great experience and they didn't help much and seemed rather bitchy and rushed me.
My local department stores are pretty cool. The Macy's, especially. Not pushy at all. My wife and I dropped over $100 on some YSL scents over the past week.
The Dillard's is a little tougher. One lady follows you around like you're a thief. Others are a little too "watchful". It aggravates me. I'm 42, clean cut and I dress nice. Leave me alone and I might buy something.
Current faves: Aventus, ADG Essenza, MFK Masculin Pluriel, Creed Royal Mayfair, TDH Parfum, Tom Ford Italian Cypress
Macy's is the only department store of that type in my town. The SAs are pretty nice. They leave me alone when I say I am just browsing and don't try to push anything.
In Dillards, I was recently asked if I wanted to sample the NEW Dolce & Gabanna fragrance - Light Blue for Men. I passed on the offer.
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Its kinda funny, because I always had good service at stores like The Bay, Pharmaprix, and even a local independant shop here in MTL. in the indy shop, the lady working there always asks me if I'm looking for something particular. Only if I ask her to suggest something will she push something on me, and even then, she's getting to know my tastes. The Bay and Pharmaprix, in my experience, dont verbally push their products. There are stands and counters for new releases, but other than that the SAs have always been good to me.
The other week I actually went into a Sephora specifically to catch up on some new releases that I hadn't smelt yet. Pi Neo was among them.
The SA actually said she hadn't smelled it and that nobody ever asked about it, instead of actively trying to market it. She did try to guide me to Play and that new Diesel one that looks like a fist. I said I wasn't a fan of either, and explained my complaint about how too many fragrances follow the fresh-fades-to-sweet storyline.
I don't think she knew much about mens fragrance and seemed pleasantly surprised that I was *introducing* her to scents that nobody generally asks about like Eau Sauvage, Guerlain Vetiver, Gucci PH, etc., and explaining why I prefer them. She made me four sample decants!
BUT it usually doesn't go that way. Usually my expereince is much like ChuckW's:
I usually try to start a nice conversation, but if it doesn't work and they won't leave me alone, I just leave. Whether the conversation tactic works depends on whether the SA actually likes fragrances. You can always tell the ones who are just stuck there trying to sell whatever is easiest to sell.
Last edited by LiveJazz; 4th September 2009 at 03:01 PM.
"It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."
Thank God for the internet. If my only option was purchasing frags via the malls, I would not be in this hobby and would have no interest whatsoever in fragrances.
You're no snob bro. You have taste.
"Those of you who *think* you know everything are annoying those of us who do."
If that is snobbery, so be it!
As one educated in perfumes, you probably know more than the rank-and-file fragrance peddler in a department store. Almost all of them know nothing of niche scents.
I had to spell out the new Prada L'Eau Ambree. Most SAs I have seen don't know much about the proper pronunciation of scents, usu. in French. "Noir" comes out as "noy-ur."
As for genders and perfumes, we all know the story. When I reach to sample something like "Fleur du Male," or YSL L'Homme, I get a really strange look. Too many people unwilling to think outside the box and enjoy a scent for what it is.
Last edited by Primrose; 3rd September 2009 at 10:31 PM.
"No elegance is possible without it...perfume is a part of you." Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
One time in a Bloomingdale's when I was with my wife, as she and I walked towards the men's colognes section a group of 4 SA's simultaneously turned toward us and said in unison in a loud sing song voice, "May we help you?" Yes, pretty rude, somewhat disrespectful, but I was unphased. I considered it making fun of themselves, their job, no customers in sight. Though I said, "Just looking" and went over to a bottle of Aramis, one SA in a similarly exaggerated way attempted to go through a list of other possibilties popping up in front of me behind the counter. I asked her at one point, "Do you know a lot of these scents even the classics have been reformulated?" She said, "Oh, no, it;s just that your sense of smell changes as you get older." My reply was, "Yeah, I guess I'm really going to smell a lot different when I'm 90.." She didn't laugh, but just stared at me. I sprayed on a shot of Ararmis and then walked with my wife towards the door to the parking lot.
I have to say, the SA's at Macy's at least near me, have been always fine, but at another Macy's the SA there was just another list lover....
Last edited by ortho123; 3rd September 2009 at 10:48 PM.
You can definitely tell the ones who appreciate fragrances to the ones that are just trying to sell stuff - in one visit to Myers (one of the 'higher-end' stores down in Aus) I had two different SA's serve me - one was pushing D&G The One, Diesels new frag, the Hugo Boss range etc, as I guess it 'suited my age' (early twenties).
I actually started talking to another SA, and she admitted to loving the "Purple Men's Prada" and Narciso for Him, which shocked me for a very young SA. She was friendly, helpful and never pushy. We ended up talking for a while, I told her about basenotes, discussed some other Men's frags I thought she should smell. It was much more pleasant than having the usual new relases / top 10 forced down my nostrils!
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