Perfume Shopping : Where Do You Buy Your Fragrances

Where do you shop for perfume?

Today’s question comes from Jan, who wrote to me that “it would be wonderful to know where people all over are buying their full bottles, once they find favorites.” She was also curious if there are any real bargain to be had on Ebay, because her experience was mixed so far.

Once I find a favorite perfume, I prefer to buy it from a small boutique where I’ve received good customer service. In the US, I’ve always shopped at Aedes or Luckyscent, while here in Belgium, Senteurs d’Ailleurs or Haute Parfumerie Place Vendôme are the places I favor. Sephora is another favorite for its convenience. If I’m looking for a bargain, I turn to Ebay. I read the feedback and do a google search for a seller’s name to make sure that they are reputable. Most of my purchases have turned out to be successful, but even so, buying from online discounters carries some risk of getting merchandise from old stock.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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122 Comments

  • Cyndi: I also like Lucky Scent, but if I’m looking for something that’s considered a “vintage” perfume that is not easily found in the stores where I live, I have often tried fragrance.net. So far, I would have to say that it’s mostly worked out for me, and they sometimes have good deals. Shopping for perfume on e-bay, however, has always made me a little nervous so I’ve never tried it. November 17, 2012 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Ebay is always tricky, and I almost never buy from individual sellers (more often from larger stores), and I never buy anything Chanel, Dior or any other top selling brands (unless it’s a vintage), because there are so many fakes. All in all, I’m not surprised many of us are wary of Ebay. November 17, 2012 at 2:45pm Reply

      • Heather: I am a bit late responding to this, but I read this and thought ‘I do exactly the opposite’, so thought I would explain why. Individual sellers, provided they have good feedback, tend to be people like us, who have collected fragrances, loved them and looked after them well. I’ve met some fellow enthusiasts via purchasing from the on ebay. In contrast, the stores tend to be black market discounters shuffling around old stock. There is no way to tell how the merchandise has been stored, whether it has been re-sealed, or indeed whether it is even genuine. I prefer the small sellers and asking questions. Hope this alternative view is helpful. November 23, 2012 at 5:33am Reply

  • Natalie: I live in the Netherlands, quite far away from the bigger cities in the west. I can tell you; it’s is a desert out here. Only the average mainstream stuff is to be found here. For really nice stores you have to go either to Amsterdam or the Hague. However, the best choice is driving across the border into Germany or Belgium. Great stores (Schnitzler is wonderful), super customerservice and time and patience to listen to a client. Even when you don’t buy immediately. It is really worth the drive. Place Vendôme is high on my list to visit anytime soon! November 17, 2012 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Reminds me of when I was a student and lived in a small college town. The nearest place that had a good selection of perfume was 2 hours away by car. Online shopping became my consolation. November 17, 2012 at 3:01pm Reply

    • Claudia: I second Germany for perfume shopping. I live in the east of the Netherlands, close to the German border. I love Schnitzler, but also Beauty Affair in Dusseldorf, a small store just off the Königsallee. They carry a wonderful selection of niche lines and their service is impeccable. Luckily, since a couple of years a lovely niche perfumery can be found in my very own home town. Great news for me, not so for my bank account though ;-) November 18, 2012 at 1:06pm Reply

      • Claudia: I would also like to recommend Parfumaria in IJsselstein, the Netherlands. They have a great selection of niche lines, including Kerosene Fragrances and Neela Vermeire. The store itself is open only by appointment but they have a webshop and a great sample program. The website is in Dutch though. November 18, 2012 at 1:38pm Reply

        • Mer: Oooh, nice, thanks! November 19, 2012 at 7:43am Reply

      • Natalie: Hi Claudia, I think you live close to me, because I also live close to the border. Driving to Düsseldorf is faster than going to the Hague. I havent been to Beau
        ty Affair yet, so I’ll check them out next time I go there. PS: Do you mean Scentz? The are quite nice! November 18, 2012 at 2:22pm Reply

        • Claudia: Hi Nathalie, I live in Enschede and I meant Nederveen Cosmetics. They carry Serge Lutens, Mona di Orio, Amouage, Casamorati etc. and also all the Guerlain extracts. They have a webshop as well. I didn’t know about Scentz, I’ll be sure to check them out. Beauty Affair has a great selection. They carry for example Ormonde Jayne, By Kilian, Puredistance and the Frederic Malle line. November 18, 2012 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Bela: For the past ten years, I’ve only worn two SLs – both Exclusives at the time I bought them – so I had no choice: I had to buy them from the Salons du Palais-Royal. However, I have also bought a couple of bottles of other perfumes for friends on eBay (no problem whatsoever: they were not popular Chanels, etc. so no fakes) and, a few weeks ago, from Cheap Smells (UK etailer). I got a very *very* good price, but the box wasn’t sealed so I had to think of what to tell the recipient – a little bit embarrassing. Next time I’ll check with them whether the box is sealed or not for whatever perfume I want to buy.

    I would like to be in a position to patronise small boutiques, but I’m afraid no service they could offer would make up for the price difference between them and eBay or an etailer. Saving money is a priority for me these days, unfortunately. I won’t be able to wear any SLs for the foreseeable future: they’re now beyond my reach. November 17, 2012 at 9:27am Reply

    • Bela: P.S. I’ve never been to Senteurs d’Ailleurs (it didn’t exist the last time I was in Brussels), but I used to correspond with the owner: she was a member of the now-defunct French forum devoted to Serge. She very kindly sent me several SL minis, just because… I still have them: they’re so cute, I don’t want to use them or give them away. LOL!

      Anyway, V, next time you visit the boutique and if you get the chance, please give my best regards to Zouzou (that was her username on the forum). November 17, 2012 at 9:39am Reply

      • Victoria: I will do! I haven’t seen a lady at the store whenever I would go in, but I will ask about her. November 17, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I buy only a couple of full bottles a year these days–I’m becoming more and more frugal with my purchases, so I completely understand what you mean. November 17, 2012 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Emily: Disclaimer: I live in central Alabama in a college town, about a half hour from two reasonably-sized cities and an hour and a half from Atlanta (which is my idea of a proper city). Most of my family still lives in my hometown of Houston and my sister lives in New York.

    I try to limit my FB purchases for reasons of space/budget/sanity, though I have a highly-organized and rather extensive sample library and am a sucker for a coffret that offers variety at a lower price. (for coffrets I tend to go direct to the fragrance house, since they are usually cheapest that way)

    I tend to buy FBs either as part of an “experience” (my one Sniffa purchase, or my “big week in NYC” bottle), or as a celebratory event (new perfume for sister’s wedding, another bought as a reward after lots of intrusive medical tests, yet another to celebrate a string of professional successes)

    For most of those cases, I’m making my FB purchases in one of those big cities, which often means the comprehensive niche store in Houston (though I’ve increasingly been annoyed at their service). I’ve made FB purchases at Aedes (anticlimactic, but many have had better experiences) and Bergdorf (which shipped home for me and had a killer GWP), and hope to make a proper purchase from Osswald in the future (I had a stunningly wonderful service experience there, which means something). I’m heading to LA in January, and I definitely am budgeting a FB purchase for LuckyScent.

    All that said, I now have a list of a few near-drained decants that I have decided I need to own that my good-service niche places don’t necessarily sell or I am just feeling frugal.

    For those I tend to track Parfum1′s deals (periodic 10% or 20% coupons) — they have a pretty solid collection of niche, though not everything. My dad swears by the service at http://us.strawberrynet.com/ which is where he restocks his Eau Sauvage — once they accidentally shipped him a tester and they *let him keep it* after they shipped him a fresh bottle.

    I do scan ebay for deals, and my one actual purchase was cheap and uneventful (a near-FB of Prada’s Infusion De Fleur D’oranger, which is awful to me but I paid less for it than for a decant, so at least I came away with more swappable stuff!). I don’t find a whole lot of listings on ebay that fall into my sense of a “deal” — if I was looking for vintage gems, I’d join my colleague here who scours the estate sales (yes, even in a tiny Alabama town you can score some great stuff that way) November 17, 2012 at 9:50am Reply

    • Eric: That niche store in Houston: Kuhl-Linscomb? November 17, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

      • Emily: Yes — good location, great space, wonderful selection, the staff is not hover-y, but they’re also not always super-helpful (no sampling as far as I have ever been able to tell). Last time I went there were no strips out either, so bring your own paper… November 17, 2012 at 12:41pm Reply

        • Eric: Their selection is by far the best, but it’s true: since Therese left, nobody knows anything about the fragrances. They used to keep lists of notes on the back (again, Therese, a wonderful woman) but the new bottles have no such system. They used to make samples, but I’m not sure any more. Haven’t felt comforted to ask the current staff. November 17, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

          • Jennifer: I think they will make samples if you ask. I was there one day.. I guess a couple months ago.. looking at the Lutens, and the girl who was working in that area said something about making samples if I wanted any. And they do have blotter strips. I’ve been offered them a few of the times I’ve gone in, but I’m sure you could get them if you ask. I wish they would just have them out and easily accessible though. November 19, 2012 at 6:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is a fabulous guide to perfume shopping in itself! Thank you, Emily.
      By the way, my mom buys from strawberrynet.com, and she has only very good things to say about it. November 17, 2012 at 3:06pm Reply

      • Andrea: I bought Par Amour Toujours (Clarins, discontinued, I think that’s the name…)from StrawberryNet. I was wary, but sure enough it flew from Hong Kong to make its home with me! I love it, too… November 17, 2012 at 7:31pm Reply

  • Lucas: Here in Poland to try a scent I usually take my way to Sephora or Douglas while when it comes to niche I visit this small Quality Missala parfumery in Poznań. It’s small and they don’t have everything that Quality Missala offers but they’re still nice.
    When I want to buy a perfume I usually take an online way. I never bought a perfume at Sephora. Niche is not popular on ebay in Poland so to get me some I can ask staff at Quality Missala to order me a bottle or I can order at Quality Missala online boutique with free shipping to my door. November 17, 2012 at 10:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like you have a few options at least. And free shipping is always a bonus. :) November 17, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Lucy: I too prefer supporting the smaller perfume shops, such as MiN, Aedes, and there’s a new one I haven’t been to yet in Soho, will have to get there. I buy essential oils or other materials I like to have just for my own pleasure from the suppliers like Eden and Liberty. I buy indieperfumes not represented in the stores directly from the perfumers, such as Aftelier, DSH, Liz Zorn, Aroma M, etc. The bulk of my buying is in the indieperfumes category. I sometimes use the internet to find commercial perfumes of prior decades that sound interesting. Lucky I live in the NYC area, where there are many choices. November 17, 2012 at 10:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I miss NYC perfume shopping! Brussels doesn’t even begin to compare. November 17, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Leah: Such a timely post, as this has been on my mind much of late. I love giving business to the Aedes of this world, but with a family, budgeting is a priority. Nordstrom has a great point system if you get their credit card (Bloomingdale’s as well) and shop on certain days. If you have the will power to time your purchases to coincide with their special points events, you can build up for a free purchase. Developing a good relationship with an SA is also key. That being said, I have been turning to Ebay more and more given that vintage is my passion. While there are certainly dishonest people out there, you can take precautions to ensure a good experience. Read reviews and ask questions! I have also had some good experience with Basenotes, though the same cautions apply. Don’t be afraid of testers either – these can be great bargains if your priority is the juice and not the bottle. November 17, 2012 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Testers are a good bargain. In some cases, I do like to wrap the nozzle in parafilm to prevent any evaporation, but this applies only if I’m not using a bottle on regular basis. November 17, 2012 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Adrienne: Hello Victoria,
    This is a ‘heads up’ to those who buy on eBay. A couple of months ago I wanted Chanel No5 and ‘Coco Chanel’ so started looking online. After several days of what I had thought was careful research, I bought a bottle of each from eBay. The price was about $45, and free shipping!!. I assumed it was someone who had been given a gift they didn’t like. The packaging was perfect, printing correct, cellophane undamaged, the fragrance smelled almost perfect, but didn’t last longer than 10 minutes. I checked more carefully and compared the bottles with my old empty ones. The new bottles had much thicker bottoms than the old finer glass ones and felt ‘clunky’ by comparison. I wrote to ‘Chanel’ and asked if they had had any problems with fakes, and got an offhand reply, shockingly disinterested from my perspective. I contacted the seller on eBay and had my money refunded less than 5 minutes after telling them I thought their products were fakes. They also told me I did not need to return them in order to receive the refund. A big clue!!! I did a bit more research online and discovered there is a ‘ring’ of organised sellers from California, Florida and Michigan that is getting supplies from some European countries. Some of the Asian discount perfume and cosmetic stores (Strawberry.net) are also suspect in my book. I bought ‘Diorissimo’ from there and it also is ‘clunky’ and doesn’t last long. Sooooo, all of you beware, and purchase from reputable stores. November 17, 2012 at 10:25am Reply

    • Nikki: I totally agree! That happened to me, too, with Chanel Coco I bought on e-bay. It was a fake and a nasty seller. I would not buy Chanel on e-bay (not that I like it anymore). It is mainly Chanel that is fake. I brought my bottle to the Chanel counter and they couldn’t tell the difference until they smelled it. The bottles are so easy to copy. The sticker is different as well….I never had problems with Guerlain so far… November 17, 2012 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Chanel Ebay finds are notorious for being fake, and I’m glad that you brought up this point and shared your story. Coco Mademoiselle is one of the most counterfeited perfumes (along with Dior J’Adore). November 17, 2012 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: There is a very nice niche-only perfume shop in my hometown, owned by a lovely lady so whenever I want something from the houses that are carried there (Parfum d’Empire, SL export line, Annick Goutal, Parfumerie Générale, L’artisan parfumeur, Huitième art, Frédéric Malle) I make a point to buy from her. It’s about the service and the samples of course, but most of all it’s about having tons of fun shooting the breeze with this lady while trying everything I want without any pressure to buy whatsoever. And I don’t care one bit if it’s cheaper somewhere else: you have to help the brick-and-mortar shops you like so they stay in business.
    The rest has been mostly SL exclusives so far, and I order them from the Salons du Palais Royal’s online store when they’re having “free shipping” specials. November 17, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Being able to test without a pressure to buy is very important. One can’t make up one’s mind on a spot, and sometimes it’s essential to return several times (especially if a store doesn’t give out samples). So, it’s annoying to have an SA standing over you asking “so, what do you think? shall I wrap it for you? do you want to buy it today?” November 17, 2012 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Here in New York, I love Aedes, MinNY and the Frederic Malle boutique. I prefer to avoid the department stores with the exception of Barney’s (great selection and non-pushy service) and the Guerlain counter at Bergdorf. November 17, 2012 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Have you been to Osswald already? I’m curious about it. November 17, 2012 at 3:18pm Reply

      • Elizabeth: Not yet. I must go there soon! November 17, 2012 at 6:50pm Reply

  • Phyllis Ann Iervello: I buy most of my full bottles from Lucky Scent, Barney’s and Aedes, but sometimes I purchase directly from a niche house like CB I Hate Perfume, Le Labo and Ormonde Jayne. November 17, 2012 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Luckyscent is one of my favorites for samples. Even these days I buy from them (their international shipping on small packages is quite reasonable). November 17, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Nikki: I buy and sell perfumes on e-bay, as I get carried away and buy several bottles when I think they are a good deal. I sold all my Panthere and Amouage and other perfumes which don’t suit me and especially, don’t suit the environment where I live now. I like to buy decants first, and once I like something I try to bargain with the seller and purchase several perfumes at the same time. I was lucky to get several extrait 30 ml testers of Shalimar and Jean Louis Scherrer that way. Also, some of my favorite fragrances are really inexpensive on e-bay as the mainstream has forgotten them so one can get really high quality perfumes for very little on e-bay. I also look in TJMAXX and Marshall’s stores for great perfumes reduced but I try to buy what I know and love as I often thought it was a bargain. i.e. Cabaret or the new YSL but then ended up giving them away. November 17, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

    • Nikki: Totally forgot: I drive to Barney’s (2 to 3 hour drive) once in a while to try all new perfumes by SL and FM, I love their Frederic Malle collection and bought my favorites up there. November 17, 2012 at 11:16am Reply

      • Victoria: I love how FM collection is presented at Barneys. Makes it seem like a boutique within a boutique. November 17, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Hi Jan! I guess you live far away from the Netherlands, so it is not helpful for you to know that Skins in Amsterdam is a very good shop with welltrained, friendly SA. There are a few good perfumeries in Amsterdam, and in The Hague Douglas) you can even buy Les Exclusifs de Guerlain. And a place in Amsterdam to keep in mind: Grimme, Albert Cuypmarkt. But Natalie, it is not only A’dam and The Hague! Rotterdam (Weena 144, Lianne Tio) has a good collection (even Ormonde Jayne). Also Mignonne in Maastricht, and I am told that you can buy exclusive perfumes in Enschede. November 17, 2012 at 11:38am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m jotting down your suggestions for myself, Anna! :) Thank you. November 17, 2012 at 3:20pm Reply

    • Natalie: Thx for the tips. I’ll check them out. Now I only need to find a place that sells the Dior La Collection Privee and ships it. (from EU, not US. had far to much trouble with customs last year). November 17, 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Skins has more shops in the Netherlands than just the Amsterdam one. Last time I googled them they had one in Breda. I have never used them, except for their small shop within a shop in Rotterdam in the Bijenkorf.

      In the Hague my favourite place is Céleste. Good selection and very nice staff. They also have an online store. November 18, 2012 at 12:36pm Reply

      • Anna Minis: Amsterdam Reestraat was their first shop ; they still have the biggest collection there, including F.Malle and By Kilian (not to be found in Skins Rotterdam). November 19, 2012 at 5:20pm Reply

        • Anna Minis: Sorry, Skins : Runstraat Amsterdam! November 20, 2012 at 5:49am Reply

        • Austenfan: That is odd. The small Skins inside the Bijenkorf does carry the By Kilians. At least some of them. I have never seen the Malles there though, and have never visited the stand-alone shop. November 20, 2012 at 8:37am Reply

          • Anna Minis: Yes, it is a little bit odd–one could expect all Skins have the same collection. I saw the Skins in the Bijenkorf in Rotterdam when it was newly installed; perhaps By Kilian came later there. Anyway, the Skins in the Runstraat are worth visiting– the whole range of Malle and much more, in a lovely part of Amsterdam. by the way, did you see the large Lutens collection in de Bijenkorf Rotterdam? Only the export line, of course, but much more than in A’dam. November 20, 2012 at 8:55am Reply

            • Austenfan: I tend to favour Brussels and Antwerp over Amsterdam. I am much closer and I prefer Flemish SA’s. November 20, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

              • Anna Minis: Coming from the south of the Netherlands myself, I know what you mean. I feel more at home in Belgium than here in Amsterdam, where I live. But Amsterdam has its charmes as well, and at Skins (Runstraat) the AS are friendly, I can assure you! November 20, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

                • Anna Minis: Hmm, AS’s November 20, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

                  • Anna Minis: No–SA’s!!! November 20, 2012 at 10:55am Reply

      • nozknoz: I’m in the US and ordered from Celeste once, in order to get something not yet available here. I also found them great to deal with. The cost of shipment was largely balanced out by the samples they enclosed. They have a great selection of the fancy Annick Goutal bottles, by they way. November 21, 2012 at 10:46pm Reply

  • Andrea: The Perfume Hose in Portland, Oregon is a fragrance lover’s heaven for perfume aficionados or newbies like me. At the moment the very knowledgeable and helpful staff is helping me find my perfect fragrance for our cool and rainy fall and winter. November 17, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

    • mridula: Yes, the perfume House is where to shop in Portland Oregon. I was helped to make my first SL selection there. I was upset later to see that some SL perfumes are available for considerably less on Overstock online. Upset because how can brick and mortar stores provide comparable prices. yes, the service is incomparable. I wish SL and other perfume companies would stick hang onto their cache by not distributing themselves so thin. I love the idea of saving my pennies to buy something special and being treated nicely at a nice store while doing it. How do people feel about the new SL online store? Too easy to get anything you want? You dont have to educate yourself before wearing it? November 17, 2012 at 2:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: I haven’t purchased anything from the site, but I like it very much. Easy to navigate and full of information. It’s great to see the whole collection laid out this way. November 17, 2012 at 3:21pm Reply

      • Anat13: I live so far away perfume boutique that I am extremely grateful for online opportunities. That said, thus far I’ve only purchased directly from a niche house’s online site and from the decanters. I’ve noticed a few brick-and-mortar boutiques that have been lovely to perfumistas, and plan to make purchases from them by phone or their websites in the future when possible. I’d rather support small business that offer great service whenever I can. November 18, 2012 at 9:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve heard so many good things about The Perfume House. Its collection sounds impressive. November 17, 2012 at 3:20pm Reply

  • Daisy: I like Aedes, MiN, the Frederic Malle Boutique, Bergdorf’s and Barney’s. I also like ordering directly from the perfumer.

    I’m tempted by amazon and ebay, but I always wonder about the age of the fragrance and how it was stored . . . November 17, 2012 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a risk. One never knows the exact age of the perfume one buys from these stores. November 17, 2012 at 3:22pm Reply

    • nozknoz: Of course, I’m usually HOPING for an older bottle, as opposed to the latest reform/ruination, so it that can work both ways! ;-) November 21, 2012 at 10:52pm Reply

  • Emma: I buy my Serge Lutens at Aedes, last bottle was Tubereuse Criminelle. Miguel from Aedes is a very nice guy, we always chat for an hour.
    I also shop at Barneys but more for the Lutens makeup line but I bought Lutens Miel de Bois and De Profundis exclusive Palais Royal bell jars at Barneys. November 17, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: By the way, some time ago I received a sample of Serge Lutens lipsticks with my purchase of a bell jar, and I must say that I’m smitten. The quality of the lipsticks is really incredible. I’m not a makeup junkie, but the first time I’ve tried these creamy and yet long lasting lipsticks, I realized why makeup can inspire raptures. I haven’t purchased any yet, but I’m going to make a room in my budget for at least one. November 17, 2012 at 3:25pm Reply

  • rosarita: I’ve pretty much always been a perfume lover on a shoestring plus I live hours away from even halfway decent shopping, so the majority of my perfumed life is lived online. I’ve purchased and swapped many samples from Luckyscent, Beautyhabit, TPC, Surrender to Chance, scentmonkey, etc. I actually prefer decants to full bottles so that I can have both a greater variety and a better chance of using things up. My bottles are either inexpensive, purchased through eBay or an online discounter, or a special love purchased from the perfumer. I would love to support MiN and other small sellers but I just can’t afford to. Swapping has been a wonderful boon for me and to be honest, I’m pretty close to the point of not shopping at all. I’m not getting any younger, and will I really use up all the perfume and nail polish (my other passion) that I already have? A sample or small decant is all I need of anything these days. November 17, 2012 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I completely see what you mean. As I mentioning to Bela, I buy very few full bottles a year–both because I have other budget priorities and I’m at the point I want to keep my perfume wardrobe small and well-edited. Decants are my friends. :) If I finish a couple of decants, it usually means that I need a full bottle. But in most cases, I don’t. :) November 17, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • annemariec: I buy a lot from the decant services (The Perfumes Court and Surrender ti Chance). My collection is becoming decant based and for me the the 5 or 8 ml decant is ideal. 8 mls is almost a FB!I used to buy a lot of minis online, but now that the decanters offer so much choice, I find it is cheaper to buy several decants at once from one of them them, and pay just the one shipping fee.

    I’m in Australia and it is nearly always cheaper to buy FBs online from overseas e-tailer, even after the cost of shipping. I’ve had good experiences from Strawberrynet, Fragrancex and Fragrancenet. They do tend to have old stock, but that can be an advantage if something has just been reformulated!

    I’ve had mainly good experiences on eBay, except where I’ve bought vintage and the perfume turns out to be too damaged to wear. But I regard that as my risk. Also, you can occasionally pick up a bargain when someone is selling an unwanted gift. November 17, 2012 at 4:03pm Reply

    • Emily: Annemarie, I completely agree that old stock can be a good thing! Of course you don’t want perfumes that have deteriorated or have been stored improperly, but I’ve had great luck with the older perfumes I’ve found at discounters and other online stores (vintage Parfum Sacre EDP; pre-reformulation Vent Vert; even a bottle of Mitsouko cologne in the old “stopwatch” bottle). November 17, 2012 at 6:39pm Reply

      • rosarita: Yes, I’ll chime in as another fan of older stock! That’s how I’ve found some gems. November 17, 2012 at 6:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate to this. I’ve discovered very quickly that shipping within Europe can become very expensive, especially when the taxes are added in. But the issues of customs, especially on packages from the US, is limiting my online purchases to small samples only. November 19, 2012 at 4:22pm Reply

  • AnneD: I love going to Neiman Marcus or Barneys’ just for the experience. I live in a rural area and Dallas is about an hours drive for me. Usually it becomes a full day of browsing and smelling and usually coincides with an event or gift with purchase. I am loving L’Artisan at the moment.

    I also buy and sell on Ebay. I started browsing estate sales and flea markets for vintage perfumes and it really got out of hand. My husband and I have sold some really lovely vintage fragrances that I really did not want to part with, but I had to admit I was just generally being greedy. My vintage collection is full and I have found almost everything I ever desired. The rest have gone on to make someone else happy. We value our reputation and have 100% positive feedback. Please bid on Ebay with caution but remember that someone elses excess could be your gain! November 17, 2012 at 4:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Anne, they are such good stores, and I miss Neimans and Barneys the most here in Belgium. There is nothing quite like either one. November 19, 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

  • Mel: I live w/in walking distance of a really trendy street in Venice, CA. One of the boutiques even sells CB I Hate Perfume – that’s their only scent. Another sells L’Artisan. I try to support the smaller stores for anything anyway so that’s what I do. And Fred Segal’s in SM is not far but they can be fickle with their inventory. I got hooked on i profumi di firenze which they carried – then they bailed on it. same w/ comptoir sud pacifique (I only like Aqua Motu). They still have all of SL though. But I’d have to confess my favorite place is Barney’s b/c they carry so many different lines and you can really get caught up there. November 17, 2012 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve visited Venice, CA once, and I think that I remember that street. I bought Aqua Motu there when CSP was still a relatively unknown brand. November 19, 2012 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Raluca: I live in Boston and I buy perfumes at Barneys, Saks, Sephora and online at luckyscent and Aedes. A few times I bought fragrances on amazon. Once I ordered samples from one of the websites that sells decants and samples (I can’t think of the name right now). I actually just bought a fragrance on luckyscent that was recommended to me last week but one of the readers of this blog as a “replacement” for Organza Indecence. I bought on ebay only once and hesitate to do that again. November 17, 2012 at 6:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that your Luckyscent purchase turns out to be successful! Please let us know how it goes. November 19, 2012 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Lavanya: i buy from luckyscent, beautyhabit, Barneys but also from online discounters like beauty encounter. Recently I have also had reasonable luck with ebay. Nowadays I mainly buy into splits/decants- and that has been working well for me. I really need to buy full bottles of the ones I really love like Montale Black Oud.

    Also on the topic of where to buy- as I told you my mom will be visiting her friend who lives near Brussels (in Eindhoven actually) and I was wondering if you knew any good perfume stores in the vicinity? Especially places that carry L’Artisan, Parfum d’ Nicolai or even Serge Lutens, Montale. I’ve heard that PdN is even more reasonably priced in Europe than the U.S- is that true?

    Thanks so much!! November 17, 2012 at 6:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Other than Senteurs d’Ailleurs in Brussels and Place Vendome in Wevelgem, I’m not sure if I know of other stores that carry all of those brands. Serge Lutens import collection can be found at Planet Parfum perfumeries, which are all over the place in Belgium. Or ICI Paris XL. I’ve never seen PdN here. As for the price, I’m not sure anymore, especially if you count in the exchange rate. November 19, 2012 at 4:26pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Your best bet would be Skins Cosmetics in Oisterwijk – a small town about 35 kilometers from Eindhoven.

      http://www.skins.nl/locaties.htm
      link to the address of the shop

      http://www.skins.nl/merken.htm
      link to the brands they carry. The site is quite informative, but you need to be able to read Dutch.

      I have never shopped there myself. November 19, 2012 at 5:07pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Rereading your post I realise that they carry a lot of niche brands but no Montale, L’Artisan, Lutens or Parfums de Nicolaï. I am sorry about that.
        I know a store in Rotterdam that carries Montale. Tio Parfums. Céleste in The Hague carries L’Artisan and Lutens.
        I think in Europe PdN is only sold in Paris and London. November 19, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

        • Lavanya: Thanks Victoria and Austenfan- I have passed on this info to my mom.

          Austenfan- no worries- even if they don’t carry these lines, it will be fun for my mom and her friend to browse at least 1 or two of these stores.. November 19, 2012 at 11:29pm Reply

          • Anna Minis: Montale is also available in A’dam: Dany Diop Cosmetics, Spiegelgracht 6 (there you can find Vero Profumo, Andy Tauer, M.c.Gentile as well).
            Parfums Nicolai: Annindriya, Cornelis Crusemanstraat 25, Amsterdam.Have fun and good luck! November 20, 2012 at 5:47am Reply

  • Rhiane: Very few places post to Australia (due to dangerous goods postal rule I think) but I have made very good use of the place that does, Luckyscent! They have so many beautiful choices and they occasionally do a sample bag that is full of suprizes and reasonably priced. Indiescent also post here. I have managed to get CB I hate perfume through a US postal address. Being water based perfume, they will send it. I have had some luck with eBay, I also have a large fake Fendi that, after I complained, was refunded for. *wishing fendi would just bring my favorite back*
    Sadly it’s so much cheaper, even including postage, to buy overseas than here in Australia so I rarely buy from local retailers. The closest I get is going to the Estée Lauder warehouse for a Jo Malone or Tom ford fix…. November 17, 2012 at 6:16pm Reply

    • annemariec: Hi Rhiane, I’m in Australia too and rarely have trouble getting alcohol based perfume sent here. Fragrancenet, Fragrancex and Strawberrynet all deliver here, as do Surrender to Chance, The Perfumed Court and The Miniature Perfume Shoppe. I’ve bought directly from Sonoma Scent Studio, Parfum d”Empire and Andy Tauer. About the only place that I have found that won’t ship alcohol perfume to Australia is Penhaligon’s, but you can get Penhaligon’s from Strawberrynet anyway, so there is no problem. Strawb. also sells some Lutens too, if that is of any interest. Good luck! November 18, 2012 at 6:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m also sad that Fendi chose to discontinue all of its classics. They were so memorable. November 19, 2012 at 4:27pm Reply

  • Thai: Hail from South Korea. First, Hi Victoria. I love your blogs, beautiful, elegant, and absolutely informative. I am Vietnamese student studying in S. Korea now. SHopping for perfumes here is an… ordeal, I guess.
    First off, not many brands. Protectionism here is insane. There are very few brands of perfumes available, and all are too popular for their own good. I think that I have seen the whole line of Lanvin and Marc Jacobs–you have NO idea how popular Eclat d’Arpège is here. Not many Korean women use perfume, but when they do, it is Eclat d’Arpège. Next up is Jeanne. I like both of them, but I never use my Eclat and Jeanne when I am in here. If this continues to happen I may even end up hating the two poor Lanvins I have.
    Too expensive, really. They have Diptyque and Santa Maria Novella–that’s how niche they can get, I believe. But all are insanely expensive. 168000 won ~ 160usd for a 100ml Diptype… I loved Philosykos so much so last year I had to tell my bf to order it from France for me. Santa Maria Novella, I think that it must be ~200000 won for a 50-75ml bottle. I just puts me off so bad.

    I love perfume and collect them. I have 27 or 28 bottles with me now, most of which are from my boyfriend who kindly orders them for me from strawberry or fragrancex. The two retailers are great, I have no problem so far. Truth is, I got Rochas Femme and Balmain de Balmain on frangrancex with such a good deal and now they are my most favorite. November 17, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thai, thank you for stopping by and for your nice words. It’s very interesting to read your perspective on the Korean attitudes to scents. I think that it might be true for most of the Asian countries. There is a strong and sophisticated tradition of perfume the environment (incense), but not one’s self. November 19, 2012 at 4:32pm Reply

  • Kathi: I live in Munich, and by this I have good opportunities to try everything from the newest mainstream releases to niche house scents. That`s fun because I can get my hands on everything that interests me during my luch break. In the inner-city we have a few traditional perfumeries which offer high quality and niche brands, besides luxury departments in big department stores, which also have a huge range of niche perfumery, too. So it`s quite a perfume-paradise, here!
    But I also have to say, that I am often irritated by the prices:
    Especially in certain chain stores, the perfumes are up to twice as expensive as for example in online stores. So I get the first whiff usually in a store, and then search for the best offer online. Depending on the availability and prices, I sometimes buy online then.
    So I recently bought Shalimar in a recommended professional ebay store, and I checked the code on the package: it is an entirely fine original, produced this year, no fake. So why do people pay these horrid prices?
    But wanting the better price brings me to the following problem:
    During my studies, I worked at a bookstore. They got massive problems and had to downsize because they could not compete with the online market. For perfumeries this is sad especially in the case of smaller stores, because here, you get (in the best case, of course) the knowledge of somebody who will be able to help you, if you want. Besides that, you all probably know the feeling of a nice small shop, where the product range is not assorted central, but by persons who run this business for years on their own. These product-range are often much more interesting. By buying on ebay and other online-stores at (to my taste) more reasonable prices will cause the extinction of these smaller perfumeries.
    So I want these perfumes, but I want to pay the lowest possible price. And I also want the small perfumeries not do die out. Now that`s what the ancient Greek called a dilemma! November 17, 2012 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Kathi, I was in Aachen not that long ago, and the selection of perfumes impressed me very much, especially for such a small town. I bet that Munich is even more interesting in this regard. November 19, 2012 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Andrea: I’m so glad you brought up this topic, because just yesterday I saw that Vermont Country Store (it’s on Internet) has a good selection of older, hard-to-find perfumes, from drugstore brand (Emeraude, etc) to Guerlain! And they currently have a Annick Goutal (Gardenia something or other) for $50!

    V, I thought of you because they had a lovely crystal/silver shaker with jasmine powder. So, I am sending it to you “virtually”; wishing I could spare the cost and shipping… It reminded me of you!

    I go also do EBay, but warily and only if it is either a total bargain or if I can’t get it otherwise… So far so good, except for the one AG Rose Absolute I got a “tester” of unaware.

    Nordstrom for Diptyque, Neimans for Jo Malone, Chantecaille and if either store has giveaways I am there! And of course the same places all of you in the US frequent for decants. Perfume1 and StrawberryNet have been reliable as well, and Perfume1 has copious coupons. November 17, 2012 at 7:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that jasmine powder sounds wonderful! :) Why don’t more brands make scented powders? They are such a great way to perfume oneself. November 19, 2012 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Cyn: I buy most of my perfumes from antique shops in the Mohawk Valley of NY. Of course, it is hit or miss as I never know what I will come home with. Other than that, if I am searching for a certain fragrance,
    I do Ebay. Decants from Surrender, Perfume Court, etc. However, you really cannot believe the stuff I find at antique and second hand shops. November 17, 2012 at 7:56pm Reply

    • Raluca: I never thought of looking in antique shops for perfume. What a great idea! Can you smell the fragrance before buying it? November 18, 2012 at 2:21pm Reply

      • Cyn: Raluca,

        It depends. As I am looking for vintage, I don’t mind purchasing a bottle of perfume that has been opened and/or used, in which case, you would be able to smell them.

        However, the ones that come unopened in their original box you really can’t smell until you actually purchase.

        I have had great luck and the prices are much less than you find elsewhere. Good luck! November 18, 2012 at 5:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Some years ago I would search second hand and antique shops for vintage perfumes, and even on my meager student budget, I would be able to find amazing gems. So, that’s a great idea to check out flea markets and such. November 19, 2012 at 4:35pm Reply

  • Lynne Marie: I, too, find I’m moving away from full bottles and buying larger decants. It allows me to have more variety and my tastes are evolving so much that I don’t run the risk of being stuck with a FB of something I no longer like. I envy all of you with access to big cities and the opportunity to create relationships with SA’s and small niche stores. I live in the middle of nowhere and the nearest real city is 3 hours away, NYC is 6 hours. Sadly, my perfume shopping is done online – Luckyscent, Surrender to Chance, Perfumed Court, Indiescent, etc. As much as I dislike cities, I’d suffer through just for the opportunity to go on a perfume sniffing bender!! November 17, 2012 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are many times when instead of searching all of over town for a store that carries a particular line I want to try, I just place a sample order with Luckyscent. In NYC, that was less of an issue, but here in Brussels the choices are far more limited. November 19, 2012 at 4:41pm Reply

  • pomusthafa: hi, iam also bad victim of ebay about six months
    ago i purchased perfume from there and totaly fake. purchase perfumes only from reputed stores not from online. my almost 50% of purchase from dubai dutyfree shop
    thank u November 18, 2012 at 5:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, no! Sorry to hear about this experience. Ebay is unpredictable. November 19, 2012 at 4:41pm Reply

    • Dubaiscents: Dubai Duty Free is a perfume lovers haven! Some of the best prices on Amouage, Armani Privee and more (but you get better free gifts at the local stores) :-) November 20, 2012 at 5:26am Reply

  • Austenfan: I have bought a large amount of my collection on ebay. And have never had a problem. Mind you I haven’t bought any popular Chanels or Diors there. Loads of Goutals. I got my EDT and EDP of Mon Parfum Chéri for a song; at the time a lot of MPCPC was offered on ebay. I suppose they were unsniffed buys, that are now frequently used. November 18, 2012 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I once bought a lot of Frederic Malle fragrances from someone who got tired of them. The price was such a bargain. But I agree that one runs more risk scoring a fake when shopping for popular brands. November 19, 2012 at 4:42pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I have not had any luck finding Malles on ebay. But have found Delrae, Goutal and Diptyque easily.
        At the time of my purchase of MPCPC there were loads of bottles of it offered. I think a lot of people blind bought it and were disappointed. But those cheap finds are very nice, aren’t they? November 19, 2012 at 5:10pm Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: I live in Sweden. Most of my mainstream FBs I buy online, more or less heavily discounted. The niche I have are bought either as samples from for example Surrender to Chance, or given to me when I ask for samples from the perfume company in question via email. Niche FB can be tricky in Sweden. We have a very, very few department stores (one?) and a handfull smaller shops carrying niche perfumes. Otherwise I occasionally buy when I travel in Europe. Some of my absolute favourites are Chanel Les Exclusifs, and sadly they mainly have to be acquired in situ, in the Chanel boutiques. I bought my first (Coromandel) in Berlin, Kurfurstendamm – recommended! They are extremely helpful there, as well as very nice. They also ship what you want, if you are not able to visit their boutique. So now I am waiting for a FB 31 Rue Cambon (yay!!!) which the Berlin Chanel are shipping to me as we speak. I will overspray for a week in celebration (it is supposed to be a “surprise” birthday gift from my friend, who does not know that I know, but I am one step ahead, he he).

    I do not buy expensive/niche FBs overseas (US), considering taxes and other regulations concerning shipping of liquid goods. Ordering from the niche companies based in Europe through their web sites seem to be unproblematic, though. I will probably soon make my premiere FB Serge Lutens online buy. After that I will not buy any FB for a year (self desception, and a blatant lie, but I will try).

    I have never tried Ebay, although sometimes I am tempted. Perhaps in future…. November 18, 2012 at 4:05pm Reply

    • Merete: Hi Ann-Sofie,
      I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and we do have more or less the same problems with niches (and with mainstream as well, as often the parfum concentrations won’t be available) here. Why do you think that is? The Nordic countries may just not have a very perfume-oriented (or make up-oriented for that matter) culture, I guess.
      However, a department store has just introduced Les Exclusifs which is great news (though they started just a week after I got home from Paris having shopped a bit.. November 19, 2012 at 12:57pm Reply

      • Nocturnes: Merete: Which dept store has introduced Les Exclusifs in Denmark? Very excited about this! November 19, 2012 at 4:12pm Reply

        • Merete: Nocturnes, yes, it is exciting. Magasin in Kgs. Nytorv (don’t know about the other stores). I was there a couple of weeks ago. At the time they didn’t have the (few) extrait versions though, but they were expecting them too. November 19, 2012 at 5:17pm Reply

      • Ann-Sofie: Oh, I am also excited to hear that Les Exclusifs now can be found in Copenhagen! Thanks for this most valuable info, Merete!

        One reason for Sweden being a niche wasteland is, as you say, we do not have a perfume tradition. Another reason might very well be that we are so very oriented towards USA and celebrity culture, and the fragrance market adapts to this. November 20, 2012 at 4:39am Reply

        • Merete: You’re most welcome, Ann-Sophie, glad to be of help. November 20, 2012 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck! It’s a good idea to try it, because you might find that samples and decants would suffice. :) And it’s a good budgeting tactic. November 19, 2012 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Jenna: I’m in London and I’m spoilt with choice. My favourite shops are the ones that Vanessa mentioned in your London shopping post–Harrods, Miller Harris, Le Labo. I don’t buy on Ebay often, because I’m scared of getting a fake. November 19, 2012 at 4:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, I would love to join you and Vanessa on a perfume shopping trip in London. :) November 19, 2012 at 4:36pm Reply

  • Patt: I am buying mostly Decants now and find that an 8 ml. bottle can last me a very long time. However my next FB purchase will be the EDP of Volutes, as my decant is almost drained. I am just loving that fragrance for fall (thank you Victoria for the suggestion!) I will probably order it from Luckyscent. I sometimes buy on eBay, either vintage frags or more often used spray bottles at a bargain. I’m also currently waiting for a very low-priced bottle of Femme from a discounter. November 19, 2012 at 8:29am Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that you liked it. I’m enjoy my decant too. The EDT is nice, but the EDP is so much more interesting and voluptuous. November 19, 2012 at 4:35pm Reply

  • Jennifer: I live in Houston, and we have Kuhl-Linscomb for niche stuff, as mentioned below, along with the usual suspects (Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.). I found a little shop called Etoile Perfumery in an odd little corner of the Galleria that has an interesting selection. Not niche stuff so much, but some Carons, Balmains and Piguets and a lot of other stuff I don’t remember right at the moment. I’ve also gone to the zillion discount perfume shops down on Harwin when I know I can get a deal on something. That’s how I got both of the Bulgari FBs I have (Omnia and Black). Those aren’t good for non-mainstream stuff though.

    For any fellow Houstonians: are there any other niche perfume shops here other than Kuhl-Linscomb? I don’t know of any, but I’m curious if there might be places in town I haven’t found yet. November 19, 2012 at 6:50pm Reply

    • Dubaiscents: I used to live in Houston and still visit a few times a year. I found the Etoile store in the Galleria this year and loved it. Such a funny little place but, some great vintage finds. I love that Saks has Frederic Malle since you can only find that in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia over here in the Middle East. Sorry, I am no help for other suggestions but, I hope someone else will chime in so I add to my list for my next trip! November 20, 2012 at 5:23am Reply

    • Daria: Jennifer, there’s a small store at 2366 Rice Blvd, British Isles, that sells UK’ cosmetics&perfumes, such as Penhaligon’s or Floris :) November 27, 2012 at 12:02pm Reply

      • Jennifer: Thanks, Daria! I’ve been to British Isles, but I haven’t gone in there in years. I didn’t realize they carried those lines. I might have to stop in next time I’m in Rice Village. November 27, 2012 at 6:46pm Reply

  • Dubaiscents: Living Dubai, the question really should be where can you NOT buy perfume… We are so spoiled for choice here that I don’t know what I will do if I ever move. Not only do we have big international department stores such as Bloomingdales, Saks, Harvey Nichols and Galleries Lafayette there are some locally owned stores with more perfume than you could ever imagine, Paris Galleries is the biggest with in house pop ups of Roja Dove, Byredo, by Kilian, a huge Guerlain, Le Labo, etc….. Then there are the stand alone stores of so many niche and semi niche brands from Amouage (there are three stores in town!) to Xerjof. And of course the requisite discount places to round it all off. The down side is that we do not have a really nice small place like MiN or Aedes and the prices here tend to be much higher than you can get in the US (not for everything but, a lot). But, I love that I can go and smell / try so many things right here in my own backyard. I also found a wonderful niche brand store in Kuwait, Parfumerie L’exception, which stocks things you can’t find even here in Dubai. Finally, visiting the Amouage flagship store in Muscat, Oman is a must for any visitor to the region! If anyone is planning a trip to the region, I am always happy to help with shopping suggestions! November 20, 2012 at 5:20am Reply

    • Dubaiscents: Oh, and I just wanted to add that you can get the Dior Exclusives in Sephora over here, which should tell you a little more about the size of Sephora! :-) November 20, 2012 at 5:24am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for sharing all of this interesting info! I was actually planning to be in Dubai last week for work, but then another work trip came up, and Dubai had to be postponed. But I’m sure that the trip might be happening sometime soon, and if you don’t mind, I might contact you for some more tips. November 20, 2012 at 5:32am Reply

      • Dubaiscents: I am more than happy to help with any tips for Dubai, perfume related or not. Feel free to email me at lolabug at gmail dot com anytime! November 20, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • Heather: I’ve commented above about my ebay experiences, but just wanted to add another note about shopping in London. As Jenna says above, we’re spoilt for choice, but my absolute favourite place to shop is Liberty. The staff work across all the lines in the main room, so there is no hard sell, they know their stock well and they make excellent recommendations. Les Senteurs is my second favourite for the same reason, but it’s not conveniently placed for me and their sample prices online are extortionate and take forever to arrive. It’s actually cheaper and quicker for me to order samples from Luckyscent (but not full bottles). I always shop around and compare prices (and exchange rates) and often it’s cheapest to order straight from the manufacturer. This is usually the case with Goutals. My favourite online retailer in the UK is Escentual. They have the best prices, frequent promotions, and very quick delivery. My worst experience has been Harrod’s. I’ve tried a few times now and will never go back. Their main perfume hall is small and airless so it’s actually unpleasant to breathe, and I have never in my life experienced such aggressive and rude customer service, on several occasions unfortunately. The Roja Dove retreat is also off-putting – they either push his own line or ignore you. My main reason for going there in the past was to seek out the exclusive Guerlains, but now Selfridges carries them so no need. Selfridges isn’t bad but it’s just generally a very crowded place so not somewhere I want to browse. I go if I know what I want and run in and out as quickly as possible. They also have the Chanel and Hermes boutique fragrances. John Lewis & House of Fraser have been carrying more niche lines recently but they have more in-store than online, and their displays are chaotic. Fortnums has gone downhill in recent years and has a very meagre selection, but they do have Caron fountains, MDCI and Micallef. Harvey Nicks has By Killian exclusively. Ormonde Jayne is a treasure and visiting the tiny boutique is always a treat! I would highly recommend anyone visiting London to make a stop there. November 23, 2012 at 5:59am Reply

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