Monday, August 3, 2009

Drugstore blues

In an effort to keep my promise regarding a review of drug store/lower end perfumes in honor of Sookie Stackhouse and the other lovely residents of the fictional Bon Temps, LA, I went to three drug stores and two combo stores in my area this weekend trying to find one that didn’t keep all the bottles locked behind a class case with no sample sprayers.

I failed.

It appears things have changed from when I was a little girl, and a person could walk into a store and actually try on perfume before purchasing it, even if that store was a Walgreens, CVS, or Eckerds (now Rite-Aid). This is no longer that case, and I couldn’t bring myself to drop $50 on 2-4 full bottles of scent I might really never wear again. At least, not at this economically challenging moment. Thus, the drugstore scent reviews will be furloughed (as I have been) until I have the time and money to get to them. I apologize for any disappointment this causes.

I noticed something else, though, while I was on my local tour of drug/ discount department/superstores. I was surprised to see that scents that were strictly “middle to high end department store” nice when I was fifteen are now relegated to partial/full drugstore status. I saw Elizabeth Arden Red Door, CK One, and Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds all sitting next to Coty and Charlie. When I checked Target, it turns out that there were almost exclusively scents that used to be big name department store scents hanging out behind the glass, waiting for purchase. (Can anyone say Joop! cologne or Ralph Lauren Polo?)

I suppose in the last fifteen years perfume has become more stratified economically. Or maybe I have. I grew up in the sort of family that still ordered clothes from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue if you needed something “fancy.” I don’t think I set foot in a Nordstrom level department store until my mid-late 20s. My prom dress came straight off the rack from the local J.C. Penney, and I felt beautiful in it all the same. But I wonder how much the internet has played a role in the class elements of perfume expanding. When I can give a limited edition perfume made and sold exclusively in France to my niece as a graduation present, it’s clear that her world, and mine, have grown to include things my grandmother and her $15 bottle of perfume, which was considered an “expensive” gift appropriate for birthdays or anniversaries, never dreamed off.

I like the world I live in now. I like its infinite possibilities. I like that the best way to order from one of my very favorite perfumers, Christopher Brosius, is to go straight to his website and order direct from his single independent store in NYC. But I wonder at what we have to give up right outside our doors in exchange. I remember when my grandmother bought me a bottle of Sunflowers for my fifteenth birthday. I felt so special and grown up to have gotten such a nice gift, and everyone around me thought it was really nice, too. I didn’t feel sad or ashamed I wore drugstore perfume. That’s what everyone did, and we were happy that way. I would be sad to think that such an opportunity might be missed today in the shuffle of our increasingly busy world.

To that end, I would like to direct any readers with interests toward Angela's series at Now Smell This! on economically accessible scents (in these trying times) from Victoria Secret, Bath & Body Works, and the like.


sheribomb said...

I still really like Sunflowers. As well as Givenchy's Fleur D'Interdit. I've been wearing both for over half of my existence on this planet, and don't feel as though I'll ever give either one up.

Diana said...


I haven't smelled Sunflowers in years. I bet I'd still like it. It's just strange to me how much more of the world of perfume, and the world in general, I've been exposed to now.

But now that I know what you wear, maybe I'll send you some samples. :)