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  1. #1

    Default Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I love old pharmacies--you never know what treasures are lurking on their shelves, and usually the older (read more valuable vintage) are on sale just to get them out of the way. I finally went into an old fashioned pharmacy in a sort of "transitional" part of town today just to check it out as I was passing by--not really the sort of neighborhood you want to stop in, generally--at least I don't look the part or drive the right sort of car to fit in. It was amazing--the prescription counter was staffed but everything else in the store part was 80% empty--I mean they hadn't stocked new merchandise since like 1985. Maybe 1975. Seriously.

    I went straight to the fragrance section and as I did I got a very odd sensation that maybe this was a front for some other, more sinister trade than pharmacy items. Anyway, they had--amazingly--several bottles of Replique, vintage Blue Grass, vintage Coty and one bottle each of D'Orsay's Intoxication (looked like extrait) and Weil's Zibeline--all in the original (now faded) boxes with the original stick-on price tags--it didn't get a chance to look at the prices, but whatever the market rate in 1985 for Intoxication was would be a steal for vintage! Less interesting men's selection, mostly Stetson and Iron.

    I don't collect vintage women's fragrances, but for anyone in Los Angeles who is interested--or buys and sells--the pharmacy is called Portola Drugs on Huntington Drive in El Sereno, which is east of downtown near Boyle Heights. It actually really gave me the creeps and I scooted out in a hurry (I would have loved to smell the Replique as I understand that it was a really wonderful scent) because it felt unsafe and I have grown to trust my instincts in that regard...... What is amazing to me is that a pharmacy in a poor working class area--even in its heyday--would have stocked Replique and Intoxication. The later stuff--the Stetson, for example--makes perfect sense. I was going to take a picture to post here but honestly worried that if this was a front for something else, taking pictures might be frowned upon.

  2. #2
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    This sound like an interesting experience. I'd be curious about the Zibeline. I'll bet there are a few places like that around in small towns somewhere. (Without the shady overtones.)

  3. #3

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I wounder if there are any of those kinds of places like in LA in San Francsico?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I'd love to find a place like that. I wouldn't have left without that Zibeline and a bottle of Replique.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Unfortunately, these things don't exist anymore here in this area. A few more remain in Europe, but even there, it's dwindling.

    cacio

  6. #6

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I didn't know there are actual Pharmacies in America. I mean non- Wallgreens or CVS...
    www.aafke-art.com

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by FrouFrou View Post
    I didn't know there are actual Pharmacies in America. I mean non- Wallgreens or CVS...
    There are, FrouFrou, but they are few and far between, tucked away in old neighborhoods.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    You have to trust your instincts. Perfume isn't worth gambling your safety for. However I might be inclined to return with moral support and a really scruffy van with treasures like that waiting to be loved.
    The PONK club - gymnosium for perfumers (NOTE:- All club matters still on hold whilst I care for my dad now.)

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  9. #9
    Evangeline's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I absolutely agree, and I've said so many times before. These old independent pharmacies are just the *best* places to find new-old-stock, and I found a good portion of my vintage collection in Cambridge, MA at Colonial Drugs (when it was in Harvard Square, but I believe they've moved) as well as a few others that might or might not still exist today, usually found in older "downtown" areas of a city. There are a few in and around New Orleans, and I used to know of a really old and charming one in Lafayette, LA that had a lunch counter and working soda fountain, along with a *fabulous* gift section. I'm not sure if it's still in business, but finding pristine vintage offerings from Guerlain, Caron, Dior and the like was pretty common. They do however seem to be a thing of the past, along with the lunch counter and soda fountain.
    Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. ..Carl Sagan

  10. #10

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Sounds great, Oviatt! I actually really like El Sereno, and it borders South Pasadena—which has a ton of antique shops where good finds pop up now and again. Even though I'm not very up-to-speed on my vintages, I have several friends who are and so maybe I'll swing by and snap some pics for people if I get the chance. This is a great suggestion as the area has a bunch of those old pharmacies scattered around.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Does anyone know of any mom and pop kind of stores (perfume shops) that are still around that carry vintage fragrances?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I've even found some vintage at older CVS pharmacies. You have to find rural area (small town) type places.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by deadidol View Post
    Sounds great, Oviatt! I actually really like El Sereno, and it borders South Pasadena—which has a ton of antique shops where good finds pop up now and again. Even though I'm not very up-to-speed on my vintages, I have several friends who are and so maybe I'll swing by and snap some pics for people if I get the chance. This is a great suggestion as the area has a bunch of those old pharmacies scattered around.
    Great idea-- some real treasures there for someone. No real danger but something funky is going on there!

  14. #14
    Basenotes Institution badarun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    A few more remain in Europe, but even there, it's dwindling.
    Agree - never found a good vintage laden store in Toronto GTA so far - but I don't go looking much, i just scout the area if I'm in one. My dream is to find one such store...
    Currently wearing: Cedrat Boise by Mancera

  15. #15

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Shall I just put up a list of the things I want? So ya'all know what to get me?
    www.aafke-art.com

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I'll take the Zibeline and the Replique please!

    I don't think they have anything quite like that around here. too bad.
    I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

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  17. #17

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Here in Finland beauty salons used to sell fragrances and they usually carried Guerlain, Hermes, Chanel and brands like that. In the 70's they were the main places to buy fragrances from. Now absolutely no one buys from these small independent places and they are slowly but surely going to phase out. Big department stores, Sephoras and other places like that are now reigning supreme, unfortunately. Even the beauyty salons are now trendy and youthful chains. As I mentioned in another recent thread here at the FFD, I found one such place with very nice vintage goods by accident. It was not in my city, next week I'm going to check out similar places in my own town. There are atleast three still standing, I visited those places ten years ago and can't remember what they had. What I do know is that their stock moves really slow so there is a solid chance for nice finds. I'll report back.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    A somewhat similar phenomenon is noticeable in pharmacies where I live, both in the older ones with a certain historical tradition and the more recently established ones (i.e. owned by firms that are relatively new on the market). At any rate, a bit below the regular retail prices, vintage formulations of a few classic scents like Je Reviens, vintage Old Spice (yes, aware of its rather poor image among serious fragrance collectors, but alone the vintage bottle design may be worth an occasional purchase), a few Elizabeth Arden classics, the whole range of Yardley and Woods of Windsor fragrances- the first house preferably for its vintage offerings, the second one for its more contemporary ones, good deals on L'Erbolario and L'Occitane, (less IRFA-restricted, more mossy and piney batches of) Caractere by Daniel Hechter, even the occasional bottle the now discontinued Hoirzn by Guy Laroche- all are quite often readily available at these pharmacies (often closer in terms of quality, style, prestige, customer aftercare to an upscale apothecary rather than the regular, standardized, generic, discounter drugstore).

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I love stores like that and every chance I get I stop & go in them.

    Back in 2009 when I was visiting Boston, on my way through the Little Italy section of Cambridge/Boston (on the quite grueling, Freedom Trail walk) I happened upon a small pharmacy with a tiny perfume area where I spotted two vintage bottles: Diorissimo parfum by Christian Dior and Imperiale Extra Dry Cologne by Guerlain. Both were in the original (vintage) boxes but weren’t labeled with a price. The shop owner sold me both for $15 each and I floated out of the store, as if on a cloud…wow!
    "A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. "

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  20. #20

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Lucky you!
    www.aafke-art.com

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

  21. #21

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Has anyone recently found vintage Blue Grass by Elizabeth Arden?

  22. #22

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by creativeaccord View Post
    Has anyone recently found vintage Blue Grass by Elizabeth Arden?
    Not recently but I have lots of this. It reminds me of happy times and my beloved grandmother. She gave me some when I was growing up.
    The PONK club - gymnosium for perfumers (NOTE:- All club matters still on hold whilst I care for my dad now.)

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    That's exactly how I found my brand new 1990 & 1992 edt bottles of L'Heure Bleue last month. They smell remarkable. They have old bottles of Habit Rouge, Vetiver, bee bottles of Eau de Cologne Imperiale, and other old scents (original Xeryus bottles and more) all for half off! I need to pop back in soon to buy a bee bottle.
    Currently wearing: No. 5 by Chanel

  24. #24

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Hi Mumsy do you have the perfume or the perfume spray? I have the perfume spray.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    I had to have a look. Eau de Parfum spray, Eau de cologne and Perfumair

    The PONK club - gymnosium for perfumers (NOTE:- All club matters still on hold whilst I care for my dad now.)

    Twitter - @PonkClub for regular twitter updates

    My Tincture list

    A perfumed life - Tinctures, perfumes, cordials, wines and ingredients

  26. #26

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    UK Basenoters, do you know if we have these kind of old pharmacies on our side of the pond? I can't remember having come across this kind of pharmacy here...

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Evangeline View Post
    I absolutely agree, and I've said so many times before. These old independent pharmacies are just the *best* places to find new-old-stock, and I found a good portion of my vintage collection in Cambridge, MA at Colonial Drugs (when it was in Harvard Square, but I believe they've moved) as well as a few others that might or might not still exist today, usually found in older "downtown" areas of a city. There are a few in and around New Orleans, and I used to know of a really old and charming one in Lafayette, LA that had a lunch counter and working soda fountain, along with a *fabulous* gift section. I'm not sure if it's still in business, but finding pristine vintage offerings from Guerlain, Caron, Dior and the like was pretty common. They do however seem to be a thing of the past, along with the lunch counter and soda fountain.
    Colonial has moved to Watertown Street in Newton (Nonantum section). Their focus is on niche/rare scents and shaving products, so you won't find bargains there (they know their stock and what it's worth), but you will find obscure items that you won't find anywhere else in town, including Saks or Neiman Marcus, and they're the only ones around here to my knowledge who stock Caron.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by yellow_cello View Post
    UK Basenoters, do you know if we have these kind of old pharmacies on our side of the pond? I can't remember having come across this kind of pharmacy here...
    There used to be but they are few and far between if not even a myth by now. Boots and such took over many of the independents long ago and modernised them to suit. Britain hasn't really kept independents in high streets. Great shame in my view. All high streets just are clones of each other.
    The PONK club - gymnosium for perfumers (NOTE:- All club matters still on hold whilst I care for my dad now.)

    Twitter - @PonkClub for regular twitter updates

    My Tincture list

    A perfumed life - Tinctures, perfumes, cordials, wines and ingredients

  29. #29

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer View Post
    Does anyone know of any mom and pop kind of stores (perfume shops) that are still around that carry vintage fragrances?
    There's a jewelry and fragrance store at one of our local malls here in Fort Wayne that stocks a surprising amount of vintage and discontinued fragrances - at reasonable prices. I've seen scents like Balenciaga Rumba and Ralph Lauren Notorious there.

    PM me if you want to know the name.
    It's really quite pleasant, except for the smell (...)
    -"Mama", My Chemical Romance

  30. #30

    Default Re: Old Pharmacies and Vintage Fragrances

    Hi Mumsy. My bottle of perfume spray is the outline of a woman. Do you think the fragrance in your cologne is the same as in your perfume? Putting aside concentration differences. I will post a video or pic of the bottle soon.




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