5 perfumes: At the Discounters

Kenzo Ca Sent BeauGeoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Before I collected fragrance, my "hobby" (read: single-minded fixation) was used books. When I first started buying perfume, my husband rather encouraged the interest, because he thought it might distract me from my bibliophilia: he was tired of hauling dozens of very heavy boxes full of my dusty, smelly, fragile purchases each time we moved, and besides, how much perfume could one bluestocking wife buy?1 HA!

We still have many, many books about the apartment, including the out-of-print literary fiction and back issues of The Paris Review of those times. Reading the acknowledgements and writer interviews, I've noticed there are some authors so frequently mentioned as "underrated" that it's a wonder how anyone manages to overlook them. Occasionally one will reach a critical mass of "underratedness" and then a clever publisher will reissue a handsome series of books from his or her back catalog, hopefully while the writer can still enjoy the attention and royalties. Just as I was starting this post2, I found out one of my favorite authors,  Evan S. Connell, died in January, in Santa Fe, New Mexico; if you know his work, you'll join me in a moment of silence for a great literary stylist who long toiled in relative obscurity. Luckily, in recent years Connell had his revival and much of his fiction and non-fiction has been reissued, including a book I think would find an appreciative audience here, The Connoisseur. While I was delighted to see Connell recognized with glossy new editions, there are some books best encountered among the overflowing shelves and random piles of a good used bookstore, and The Connoisseur is one of them. Any fragrance nut will recognize the path to obsession charted by Connell's recurring protagonist Karl Muhlbach: the chance find of a fascinating thingy, the curious way time and space collapse as the new interest is researched and money is spent, and the hungry and vaguely alarming welcome one is given by more experienced collectors.

As Connell knew, a preoccupation like ours takes you on pilgrimages not just to the clean white spaces of swanky gallery boutiques, but also to the haphazard "displays" of secondhand or liquidation stores. Most readers of Now Smell This will be able to recall the thrill that shivered through them when they found a bottle of a discontinued gem — Anne Klein II,  say — next to a rack of knock-off sunglasses in a basement discount place. Or dug a vintage formulation of some classic — a tortoiseshell cocktail-shaker of Hermès Bel Ami, maybe, or Rochas Femme in the lace box — out of a bin in Chinatown. Sadly, the seasons come and go, even for the tragically unfashionable, and scents like Donna Karan GoldFendi Theorema and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, which were once to be had for cheap at Target or online, are now hard to find. Still, there are many great fragrances (in their pre-IFRA state) that the sharp-eyed hunter can find in almost any junk shop. Classic men's fragrances are often still a bargain. Some lines are seldom encountered outside of the discount context: in North America, it's hard to find Balmain, Rochas, Cacharel, Grès or the older Paco Rabanne scents for listed retail prices. Below are five cheap thrill favorites that are perennially available at my local discount stores. Please comment with your own frequent finds. 

Kenzo Ça Sent Beau: In Perfumes: the Guide, while praising this scent, Tania Sanchez comments: "Kindly ignore the bottle, which looks like a plug-in nightlight from the Dollar Store." The juice is ambrosial stuff, balanced between the spiced floral syrup of an Indian dessert and bright, zippy tangerine... but there is a little bit of Deal$ in the fragrance, too, a tiny whiff of vinyl out-gassing, as from a last-minute Halloween costume purchased for handing out candy. There's something smart and carefree about this slight gloss of cheapness: it reminds me of the synthetic effect in the much more expensive S-perfumes S-ex. Around here, Kenzo is well represented at discounters and in a similar spirit to this signature fragrance, the brand also has Kenzo Air, another modest and breezy marvel that smells pleasantly artificial and can be had for under $20. Cost of my bottle of Ça Sent Beau, bought sometime in 2008: 18 CAD.

Lolita Lempicka (Le Premier Parfum): Just as with Rochas Tocade — another crazy bargain— there is something inescapable about Lolita Lempicka. From the whimsical bottle to its force field sillage of Cherry Coke, chocolate and violets, it is the adorable, perky but finally exhausting friend who always corners you and insists, rather solemnly: "We are going to have FUN tonight." And my word, yes, we are. I wear Lolita Lempicka about three times a year, and each time, for about four days afterward, I go scentless. Cost of a two-piece gift set with Premier Parfum 100 ml Eau de Parfum and perfumed body cream, bought in 2010: 26 CAD, plus tax.

Halston Z-14: The random name that sounds like an automotive series, the brown globular bottle, the prevalence of "aftershave" as a concentration: it's all screaming cheap seventies. So you're likely not going to give it as a gift, but Z-14 is absolutely worth your own time and spare change. They made some quality fragrances in the disco era, leaner and meaner than the yards of olfactory taffeta that dominated the 1980s, and this classic chypre is one. While spare, it doesn't lack for development: the tonic, almost mineral citrus top notes are followed by lots of cinnamon liberally dusting a frothy floral (7-Up jasmine) and then, admirably later, a woody leather dry down. Somebody at work the other day told me I smelled like a million bucks and I was wearing Z-14. I believe I paid $12 for my 100 ml bottle.

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel: In its cozy charcoal bag, as familiar as a house slipper, this green violet scent has quietly weathered almost four decades of trends in men's fragrance. Equal parts crisp efficiency and grey-skies melancholy, it is a comforting and nostalgic thing to splash on. And splash on, you may, as I got my 120 ml of Eau de Toilette for about $20.

Jean Patou Sira des Indes: There is divided opinion on this one. My husband thinks it is one of the most delectable, straight-forwardly sexy scents ever; a good friend of mine calls it "that banana baby poo perfume". The start is a beautiful burst of cardamom and tropical floral (ylang ylang and champaca), but eventually the pear and Polysantol-type sandalwood synthetic take over and create a sort of West Indian house music for the nose. In perfumanity, we don't easily forgive a sweet fruity floral. But this is well-made, in the Patou fashion, and getting a gift set of Eau de Parfum and body lotion for under $30 can help you excuse the dry down purée.   

1. If you thought I'd admit in a footnote how much I've bought since my spouse made that very costly speculation, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you. I just wanted to give the man his due by relating how we moved across Canada in 2007: when we were discussing what to do with our leased car, I pointed out that the moving company would not take my fragrance collection. I ended up flying to our new home with my daughter, while my husband spent almost three days driving 1700 miles in December with boxes of perfume in the back seat.   

2. Yes, I take at least three months to write a post. Kudos to Robin for putting up with me.

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86 Comments

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  1. Subhuman says:

    What a great post. I keep forgetting about the gems hidden in discount bins. I need to investigate some more Kenzos.

    Grey Flannel really is a wonderful scent, although there’s something rather uncompromising about it. That violet note has a bit of a serrated edge, and the whole thing is bone-dry and solemn. I admire it, but find it hard to wear. Lolita Lempicka is a gas, too, and I’m always baffled by its reasonable price, even in department stores. If it weren’t so tooth-achingly sweet I could see myself wearing it.

    • Erin says:

      Thank you! I have to remind myself every so often about the bargain beauties out there, too; it’s so easy to get distracted by all the expensive niche launches.

      There’s *is* something about the structure of Grey Flannel that is very austere, or as you say, uncompromising and dry. I guess that’s why I find it melancholy. I sometimes spray LL on my young daughter (with permission): she loves the sweetness, finds the bottle irresisitible, and then I can catch the odd waft, while not being haunted by it every minute.

  2. Angela says:

    Another good one I’ve seen at Nordstrom Rack is Bulgari Black. Has it been discontinued? I sure hope not!

    • Erin says:

      It’s definitely lovely! I haven’t seen it on discount much around here, but I see plenty of Bvlgari: Blu & Blu Notte, Omnia and flankers, and Aqua.

    • zara says:

      there were rumors that it’s discontinued now, but who knows, it’s still easy to come by and smells wonderfully – one of my favorites

    • SunsetSmells says:

      Bvlgari Black was the first perfume I researched (re-researched?) after reading this piece. There were indeed rumours that it has been discontinued but I frequently see it in duty free shops as well as online discounters. Pleased to report that online discounters still seem to be selling it and Bvlgari still lists it on its own website.
      On the other hand, I have been wearing Cuir de Lancôme for the last day or two which I bought at an online discounter last year. I was worried to find that it looks much rarer and is being sold at niche prices now (about £100 for 50 ml). There go my hopes of a back-up bottle!

      • Sajini says:

        I think I might have seen Lancome Cuir on Beauty Encounter at a discounted price recently.

        • SunsetSmells says:

          Thanks, Sajini – that’s reassuring. I am trying very hard to go through a quarter with zero purchases.

      • Erin says:

        Good to know Black is still on the Blvgari website! Thanks.

    • Sajini says:

      I sampled Bvlgari Black a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t smell it very well on myself. It seemed to have minimal sillage on my skin. My husband thought it smelled like an old timey car mechanic shop and I kind of like the idea of smelling like that. I’m wondering, if I can’t smell it very well, should I still get a bottle?

      • Erin says:

        I am a little surprised by that, because I find Bvlgari Black quite strong, with a identifiable sillage. (I bought some for my office mate after we had a “perfume education” session and I can always tell when she’s wearing it.) It does have a fair amount of musk, however, which you may not personally be able to smell. I know many people find Bvlgari’s Omnia similarly weak, which I always figure is the musk.

      • C.H. says:

        Such an interesting existential question! Yeah I suppose if one is really charmed just by the idea of a given perfume, maybe that could be enough! But at the same time, I bet you’ll end up finding things that smell great to you in addition to having that kind of wit. Maybe hold off for now and go back to it if it keeps calling out to you?

        • Erin says:

          There’s also CdG Synthetic Series: Garage as well as likely some CB I Hate Perfume options, but they might be more literal and less witty. (Each line has witty options, though.) For a similarly take-no-prisoners gal-type feel, there’s Bandit.

          • C.H. says:

            Ah good suggestions! Also, maybe not specifically an old-timey mechanic but other equally quirky gestures, Etat Libre d’Orange?

    • perthgirl says:

      Bvlgari Black is my pick too. It only seems to be occasionally available at discount chemists for about $40- which is cheap here. And it seems NO ONE ever donates old fragrances to charity shops. Makes me sad to think that they’re probably in someone’s rubbish :-(

      • Erin says:

        My mother-in-law runs many church and community sales, and I’ve donated many bottles, and nobody ever buys the fragrances, even at rock bottom prices. Have people been affected by the SA schtick that tells you perfumes go bad after a year, I wonder?

  3. zara says:

    Thanks for the post, who doesn’t love a bargain, sometimes it’s even more fun than niche ;)
    I’d like to add my two cents – Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge a lovely tea cologne with great personality (forget green tea, this is warm and spicy, yet fresh) and Iceberg – Iceberg the Fragrance for Women (a cosy powdery gourmand with notes of pistachio and suede), both can be had for a song, at least in Europe.

    As to Kenzo – I have ‘Le Monde est Beau’, which is quite nice and cheap, and is a flanker of ‘Ca sent Beau’ as far as I remember. Haven’t seen the latter for quite a while in any discount or online shop, though.

    • Erin says:

      I quite like the Bvlgari Red Tea – the spiced fig and walnut at the start is lovely, although it fades, alas – and the White Tea isn’t bad either, and can usually be found cheaply. That Iceberg sounds quite appealing in your description; I haven’t tried it. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • ringthing says:

      I just got a bottle of Rouge in a swap this week; I bought a bottle a few years ago, swapped it and regretted it, so I’m glad to have it back. It smells wonderful, as good as I remember with that pleasant tangy nuttiness and fig. I like many Bulgaris but Blu and it’s flankers are ubiquitous at discounters in my area.

      • Erin says:

        I think Blv and the flankers never really clicked with people. Bvlgari used to take risks and put out things that were, if not always wonderful, at least interesting. I imagine they sell better now, but it’s a shame.

  4. Rappleyea says:

    Wonderful post and a fun read. I especially loved the “path to obsession” from The Connoisseur. How true!

    I have had *zero* luck at either the discounters or at Goodwill stores. But I won’t give up!

    • ringthing says:

      No, don’t give up. I’ve read of other’s fabulous Salvation Army finds for years and have complained bitterly that in my rural town, nothing ever shows up but Avon. Then I found a bottle of Tom Ford edt, and last fall found Youth Dew Amber Nude which smells wonderful, both at Goodwill. Always worth checking!

      • Rappleyea says:

        Great finds! I do end up with some good books though! Erin will appreciate that.

        • Cornlily says:

          I’ve hooked on to some of the Connell books — on iBooks. Ah, the sweet, illusive perfume of old books! And the constant, crafty battle to create shelf space for them.

          • Erin says:

            Oooo, is it the Connell novels, short stories or the non-fiction you like? Or, like me, all three?

    • Erin says:

      R, thank you. In the Connell novel, Mulbach starts collecting Pre-Columbian sculpture, and it’s testament to Connell’s powers that however much you might be disinterested in the art itself, you get drawn into the research and the hunt for it.

      Re: your finds… Blast! I’ve been lucky over the years, although I admit the last few years it’s been harder for me to find interesting scents at Canadian liquidation places.

      • nancyg says:

        Thanks for the tip on Connoisseur – I’ll look for it next time I’m in a used bookstore.

  5. morgana says:

    I ordered The Connoisseur! It looks very promising (let’s just hope I’ll manage to read it sometimes soon)

    • Erin says:

      I’m delighted you did: that’s the best outcome of this post I can imagine. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. Kathryn says:

    How nice to see you here, Erin! Your post proves that all good things are worth waiting for.

    I love finding bargains, too. One of my all time favorite cheap thrills is Gres Cabaret, a dusky rose bouquet, available at Target and Walgreen’s for less than $30. and usually found at online discounters for much less than that. Its cheerfully tacky bottle makes a nice companion for the similarly odd bottle of Tocade, another inexpensive and lovely rose.

    I’m also quite fond of Laurence Dumont’s Tendre Madeleine, often available for less than $30, just about the right price for the rare times that I want to smell like a cookie. It always makes me smile and feel rather more affectionate toward Proust than I did when I labored through his works in college. If only I’d had Tendre Madeleine to wear then.

    • Erin says:

      What a perfectly sweet thing to say about my procrastination! Glad to see you here, too.

      I like Cabaret, as well, and considered it for this post. And along with Andy’s post today at Bois de Jasmin about Pacifica’s Mexican Cocoa, your recommendation of Tendre Madeleine has me craving bargain treats!

    • mals86 says:

      Gres Cabaret is really wonderful!

      I decanted some from that awwwwwful tacky bottle into a plain one and gave it to my husband – I find it rather sexy on him. :)

  7. Abyss says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve smelled it but I’ve always liked Cacharel Noa and I recently noticed that it’s 15 pounds for 30ml!

    • Erin says:

      My entire apartment frequently smells like Noa, because my daughter loves the “pearl” in the bottle and it’s cheap enough to let her spray it around. It’s a lovely scent, like smokey soap, but it does become rather strong when a little person is wearing a cloud of about a dozen sprays of it!

  8. Ericgmd says:

    Kenzo Air for less than $20 ?!!
    Where? Please tell me…

    • relleric says:

      Me too please! I’ve never sampled this but would love to. I’ve gotten some goodies at TJMx, 30ml Bijan for less than $10, 50ml Azzaro Pour Homme for less than $10, 30ml Lolita Lempicka (original?) for less than $20 (i’m a guy and love this, but I don’t wear it very often). Also got a 50ml bottle of Michel Germain Sexual Pour Homme for less than $10, it was in a Sexual Secret box and the sprayer is defective. No worries, it still sprays a small amount.

    • Erin says:

      I think discount shopping is very area-dependent. I live in Toronto, Canada and the discount shops along Yonge and Spadina streets are full of Kenzo. The only ones I haven’t found are (unfortunately) the discontinued Summer and Winter Flowers.

  9. Marjorie Rose says:

    I’ve found very little at the discounters that I want (or that I’m familiar enough with to risk the blind buy). However, I’m always scouring the antique and consignment shops for a good deal. I still can’t decide if I made a good call on NOT buying a few mL of Emeraude I saw last weekend–the shop wanted $25 for a mini that was only about 25% full. Might still be there, if anyone thinks I’m a fool!

    • Rappleyea says:

      I think you did the right thing. 25% of a mini could only be a couple of mls. right? i just checked ebay and there are several vintage bottles in that range – for the whole bottle!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Oh, that’s good to hear! My only basis for comparison is that they had an EMPTY Shalimar mini bottle (vintage, but still) that they wanted like $40 for. Seemed pretty ridiculous!

    • Erin says:

      Though I don’t think you’re foolish at all – I admire your will power! – I would find it hard to resist “antique” Emeraude in person. I must admit I’ve bought a fair few number of turned/skunky bottles over the years, though.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I often find myself balancing on the thin line between being cheap–I mean, frugal–and wanting to own beautiful, unusual things! Last weekend, frugal won out. Mostly! (I *did* buy a big iron letter “M” from some old sign, which makes a lovely, quirky, home decor object!)

        • Erin says:

          Oh, good for you! Fragrance would win out over lovely, quirky home decor object for me every time, with the result that I have the most barren, sad-looking apartment walls ever.

  10. nancyg says:

    I check my local TJX weekly – have gotten 50 ml of Z-17 for $7.99 on the close out shelf. Also once got a small Aromatics Elixir for maybe $20. I often see Grey Flannel and Azzaro Homme and there’s always a lot of Cabotine, and Elizabeth Arden scents. Going on a quick road trip to Nashville and hoping for some gems in the local discount stores …

    • Erin says:

      Good luck in Nashville! Yes, you’ve gone some deals there. Aromatics Elixir can certainly be a steal. (I got mine free in a pass-the-present swap, or I would have bought it by now.) Sigh, wish we had TJ Maxx up here. I see a lot of the other Elizabeth in our discount places: Liz Taylor scents.

  11. donnie says:

    Brava, brava. Nice to hear from you. You are indeed worth waiting for. Following the guy stereotype, I’m not a very good(willing, enthusiastic) shopper. Obviously I need to get out more!

    • Erin says:

      D, from what I’ve heard of your life, you likely don’t have too much time to waste on shopping! Luckily, it only takes no time at all to decide on a good scent that’s $15, if you see it somewhere. I’m actually a terrible shopper. I’ve only ever spent time and indecision on perfume and books. My mom is a world class shopper and she dreads dragging me out for shoes, clothes, etc.

      • Erin says:

        It “only takes no time at all”? Yikes, I shouldn’t type comments before coffee.

  12. Merlin says:

    I haven’t found a second hand/salvation army shop in South Africa, at least not where I live, that has any perfume at all. But I have got some nice things from a chain of discount pharmacies we have here. I haven’t seen Halston Z-14 but I have Halston Classic for Women. Its one of the few chypres that work on me, and sniffing it was the first time I enjoyed an oak-mossy scent. Also, I never liked Lolita L EDP enough to buy a bottle but I did get a small bottle of the later EDT. It is a very very pretty floral! Another is Bal a Versailles, which is still my only leather-ish perfume and also the only one I have with a bit of skank! And last, but best of all – Donna Karen’s Gold. This is the only perfume for which I have a back-up bottle. I don’t use it often, but it is such a lush luxurious scent and was at such a reasonable price I could not resist!

    • lekkerruik says:

      At the same discounters, but the Cape Town branches, I often see Black Orchid Voile de Fleur and KNOW I should buy it. They do have Donna Karan Gold, yes, but the EDT, and unboxed, usually – I am soooooo grateful that I got a gigantic bottle of the gold-clad EDP when I worked at a magazine! But the American discounters sure do sound better than ours… the only Patou I ever see there is Joy, and NOT at particularly good prices.

      • Erin says:

        Voile de Fleur is my “one that got away”! It was all over the discounters here and I waffled and now it can’t be had for love nor money. Buy cheap while you can, ladies and gents!

        Patou is becoming more rare here. 1000 and Joy are still about (although not really cheap), and Sublime still seems available for discount, but the last place in town just sold out of my beloved Eau de Patou.

      • Merlin says:

        I’v never seen any Tom Fords at Dischem! The only one of his regular range that I like is Violet Blonde (which is still not me). But I haven’t tried this lighter edition…
        The first time I saw Gold EDT at clicks and Dischem but then I was at a Dischem on the other side of Joburg and found the EDP. They were unboxed and the tester smelled unpleasant.
        Some months later I found that my branch of Dischem had boxed EDPs but no testers. I took a risk – bought it – smelled it, and then went back for another!
        And yes, I’v also seen the Joy and it looked pricey -

      • Merlin says:

        Sorry, I replied to Erin’s comment meaning it as a reply to you!

    • Erin says:

      M, I’m so, so sorry, I owe you a very overdue package! I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy and haven’t gotten my act together to make the decants. This weekend, I promise! Anything from this post or comments you’d like?

      Ah, DK Gold, we share that love – it was the first lily I became totally dedicated to.

      • Merlin says:

        No stress Erin, I’m a prime procrastinator myself! Also there was a postal strike some weeks ago, so things that were posted ages ago are just arriving.

        For a long while I have been curious about Cuir de Lancolm, and I haven’t seen it anywhere here. Leather is a note that I always almost like but somehow I haven’t found an actual leather perfume that works on me…

        My gateway lily was Cartier’s Baiser Vole but I do think Gold is a better perfume! And, more interesting, to my nose, than Lys Mediterranee.

  13. Thalia says:

    I never find perfume at thrift stores! But I did find a seller with a bunch of used random things at the local famers’ market, who had a display of old mini perfumes. Most of it was junk, but I got a vintage Magie Noire and a half-full bottle of Fracas extrait for $5 each.

    My favorite discount darlings: Vent Vert, Eau de Rochas, Silences, Cabochard, and the entire Lolita Lempicka line — the Lolitas ALWAYS eventually show up at TJ Maxx for practically free. I also got my two bottles of Mahora on eBay for practically nothing.

    • Erin says:

      Great, great bargain reminders there! I almost picked Eau de Rochas and Silences for this post: such lovely corrections to the tooty-fruity sweet feminine launches of today.

  14. poodle says:

    I would love to find Kenzo Air at discount. I have a bottle and I keep it tucked away and ration out my sprays for fear when it’s gone, it’s really gone. I’m always searching for hidden gems and sometimes I find them. I’ve gotten Theirry Mugler IceMen, Marc Jacobs Bang, Esprit d’Oscar and a few others for really good prices.

    • C.H. says:

      I’ve eyed Bang! Tempted to buy unsniffed. What say you?

      • Erin says:

        Love the wacky bottle, and it got great reviews from most people, but I would beware un-sniffed, as it had a chemical in it that gave me the sneezes — very sharp. OTOH, if that happens, it would be easy to unload it on one of the many perfumistas who liked it!

        • C.H. says:

          Oh, thanks!! That’s so good to know, I def have issues with things making me sneezy sometimes. Thanks for the head’s up!

    • Erin says:

      Thanks for the reminder: I really must pick up some IceMan. (And B*Man – liked that one, too, and it’s still occasionally around for cheap, as well.) And Espirit d’Oscar! Such a nice scent, and such a surprise for me. Is it very cheap already? I wonder if it sold well…

  15. Oakland Fresca says:

    My cheap treat is Cacharel’s Lou Lou. I love everything about it. The blue plastic bottle, the spices and the powder, the click of top snapping into place. And the fact that my husband–for whom almost all frags smell “nice, flowery, err I smell flowers, and maybe.. .maybe fruit?”–finds me mysteriously very sexy when I wear it… I tell him, its not me, its Lou Lou… and he says, “nice, flowery, err I smell flowers… ” and then he says something very nice about me…

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      :D

    • Erin says:

      I knew Loulou would come up! It *is* wonderfully cheap, and I love the bottle, it’s very cool, but for some reason the scent has always seem entirely too sweet on me – I get very little spice? Glad that it works for you and inspires such a nice reaction from your husband.

  16. I’ve been smelling my busband’s Grey Flannel for twenty years now and I still swoon over it. HE is Grey Flannel! He’s tried others, but always returns to his first love.

    • Erin says:

      Personally, I could never commit to a signature scent, but it’s always nice to hear of someone who can – such lovely memories made.

  17. cazaubon says:

    I have good luck at the Winners in Montreal – not exactly cheapies, but I found bottles of the whole line of Odori there last summer when they were selling for full price at Holt Renfrew. I ran to the cash registers to pay with them clutched to my chest, hyperventilating over my good fortune. :-)

    • Erin says:

      I saw those Odoris, too, in Toronto! Winners used to be better for me – several of the gift sets mentioned in this post came from Winners – but the last year, the Yorkville one seems to have a lot less. Have you experienced this in Montreal? Maybe it’s not a high margins business for them?

  18. perthgirl says:

    A few years ago (before IFRA or my perfume addiction for that matter) I sold a heap of perfumes I didn’t wear at a garage sale. Oh how I regret it! Pre-reform Rive Gauche, Ysatis, Eden, Loulou… I bought a new version of Loulou for about $35 (that’s as cheap as it gets here). Contemplating Madame Rochas too, but 100ml is an amount I’ll never get through. Waiting for Prada Candy to be cheap.. :-)

    • Erin says:

      I know, it’s depressing, isn’t it? My mom lost an original formulation Boucheron in one of our moves when I was a child, and since they re-formulated, she’s never forgiven herself.

      Madame Rochas has changed quite a bit over the years, I’m afraid to say. Do you like the current version?

  19. stinker_kit says:

    Lovely post Erin! I confess cheap thrills are my favorite. When my scentual journey began, I was always prowling the local TJ Maxx and Marshalls. These early forays garnered such gems as Hugo Boss Baldesserini, Halston Z-14, Bvlgari Omnia, Womanity, Cartier Declaration, Paloma Picasso. Not too shabby! The ones that got away are Prada L’eau Ambree, Issey Miyake A Scent, and various Guerlains. I was not reading blogs yet and I did not always carry The Guide, which is a heavy little sucker in paperback, so while I was willing to blind buy for the right price, I needed written encouragement. I still wear all my inexpensive prizes, sniff lots more, order samples and explore without committing to whole bottles.

    • annemarie says:

      A Scent seems to have quietly disappeared from the shelves near me. Has it been d/c I wonder? I didn’t care for it when it first came out but when I went to test it again recently, following the lure of the cheap thrill, it had gone from all my local retailers. (I’m in Australia.) Remember all that fuss when it was released? It was going to smell of air, or water (or something that has no smell anyway … ) Oh well. I’m not going to chase it.

      • lekkerruik says:

        Nooooo! It cannot be discontinued! Even my 150 ml bottle won’t last forever! I absolutely adore A Scent, and I’ve noticed that the (not NEARLY as good) floral version, in the pink bottle, is getting more shelf space. It will be nothing less than an unmitigated disaster for me if this scent is discontinued. Annemarie, if you happen to know Atelier Trefle Pur and Lauder Pure White Linen – cross them and you pretty much have A Scent, to my nose.

        • annemarie says:

          Oh I could be wrong. I could just be observing a gap in distribution. But I had a look at the IM website – which admittedly one of those annoying ones that make it hard to get basic information like this – and I could not see A Scent. So I wondered if it had flopped. Of course you can still get A Scent at the online discounters, so stock up!

          I do know Pure WL, but not Trefle Pur; that is one of the Ateliers I have not tried. I agree that floral version of A Scent is not as good.

        • Erin says:

          I have to admit that I never see the “green” version any more. Unfortunately, it aways struck me as the sort of scent that was wonderfully unfashionable. Many a lovely recent scent has had a limited life due to current tastes. Issey Miyake has a bit of a track record for brave sales duds, too, I think (Feu, L’Eau Bleue, etc.)

    • Erin says:

      Not shabby at all! I’m wearing Omnia today — love that one. And Declaration, PP, Baldesserini, Halston Z-14 (of course)…. so you have a very nice little bargain collection there.

  20. Emma M says:

    Tocade is the fragrance I’m always hoping for when I rummage through the perfume bins at my local TK Maxx – I’ve never had change to try it, but it sounds right up my street.

    Alas, no Tocade yet, but I have done very well out of TK Maxx; my bottles of Shalimar and Agent Provocateur were both found there for about £20 each!

    • Erin says:

      So strange! I can’t *ecape* Tocade. Of course, I wouldn’t want to do so, it’s great, great stuff and I’ve had bottles for $15. My mom has a bottle, my daughter has a bottle, I have two… I can’t seem to pass a bottle up when I see one! Happy hunting – hope you find some soon. Good snags with your AP and Shalimar, too.

  21. austenfan says:

    What a lovely post! I haven’t been awfully lucky finding cheap perfume in stores. I have been lucky on ebay a few times though.
    Kenzo Ça sent beau I used to like, when it was still just called Kenzo. On my most recent sniff it smelled ghastly. May have been the tester. Department stores seem to take delight in “cooking” perfume.
    I love the original Lolita. I have a small bottle. I don’t wear it often, possibly because it is so sweet. It is so very good though, and fun.

    • Erin says:

      Ack! Has the Kenzo been terribly reformulated? Or, as you say, perhaps just cooked. Maybe they overlight and overheat them to get them to turn *deliberately* in order to convince people that perfumes always go bad after a few years, to increase sales? Or maybe this is how this particular rumour got started with SAs in the first place?

      I’ve had some rather bad luck on eBay, so maybe we balance out. Online discounters have mostly proved positive for me, though.

      • austenfan says:

        I just don’t know about the reformulation. I remember smelling it in the early nineties on a fellow student and liking it. I had a bottle of Kenzo Parfum d’Eté at the time, which I liked even better.
        I have, so far, never had a bad deal on ebay. Europe doesn’t have as many online discounters as the US, so ebay is my best option to get a good deal.

  22. Dionne says:

    I’m a thrifter/garage sale-er myself, but thus far I’ve had no luck there despite always keeping an eye out. My local Winners doesn’t have the selection that you do (life on the Prairies isn’t quite as….. sophisticated as the Vancouver/Toronto/Montreal trifecta) but I was able to score a bottle of Par Amour Toujours which I really like, and a bottle of Queen was scored from the $20 shelf at Shopper’s.

    • Erin says:

      I really like Par Amour Toujours. I’m assuming that this means Clarins discontinued it? That’s a good find. And I’ve never seen something so nice on the Shopper’s discount shelves — or at least, I haven’t in a while. It’s all celebrity scents at SDM and usually of a sort much worse that Queen. SJP Lovely used to be about, but I’m sort of worried it’s discontinued, too.

  23. bluepinegrove says:

    Great post, Erin. Blue stockings and perfume are a wonderful fashion statement. I love a bargain. My recent “almost free” scores include Rochas Femme, Calyx, DK Gold, and Tresor.

    • Erin says:

      Great scores! (And great taste! Those are all favorites of mine. ;) ) Was the Calyx “fresh”? My bottles are always turning on me.

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