Perfume salespeople are the bane of the serious perfume lover’s existence. Unless you are lucky enough to live in NYC or France, it is highly likely that your local perfume salespeople received virtually no training regarding their products. Because they do not know anything about perfume, and because they are dependent on commission, perfume salespeople will shamelessly lie to you if that is what it takes to make a sale.
They will tell you that Yves Saint Laurent Opium is a “light, fresh fragrance”, or that Chanel No. 19 was “Coco Chanel’s personal perfume” (it was developed a year after she died). One Scents of Self reader reports that a Sephora saleswoman once told her that Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue was an oriental perfume. After many years of frustrating and unhelpful perfume shopping experiences, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that perfume salespeople must be avoided at all costs. Evade their advances, and do not, under any circumstances, ask a perfume salesperson for help.
Trust me, if you are interested enough in perfume to be reading this (or any) perfume blog, you are already more knowledgeable than almost anyone in a given fragrance department. In the unlikely event that a perfume salesperson tells you something about a perfume that you did not already know, it is because he or she is probably making it up.
“But Ari,” you might ask, “what if I don’t see the perfume I’m looking for? Can’t I ask them to check in the back for me?” No. You may not. It will only end badly. If you do not see the perfume in question, it is not there. This is what will happen if you are foolish enough to ask the salesperson. First, she will cock her head in puzzlement. She will ask you to pronounce the name of the perfume again. She will “go check in the back”, which means that she will hide from you in the accessories department for four minutes. When she returns, she will announce that your beloved perfume has been discontinued, or that it never existed at all. No matter what the perfume in question actually smelled like, she will suggest Marc Jacobs Daisy as a replacement. It’s not her fault. She doesn’t know any better. But now you do, and you have only yourself to blame if you allow your interaction with a perfume salesperson to escalate to this point.
Whenever possible, it is best to take steps to discourage perfume salespeople from approaching you in the first place. The easiest way to do this is by dressing like an Olsen twin. Many otherwise brilliant women make the mistake of dressing well when they go perfume shopping in the hopes of “getting good service”. However, as I have already explained, encouraging perfume salespeople to talk to you is the last thing you want to do. Even some grungy sweatpants will often produce the desired effect, but for best results you should really try to look like you just crawled out of a dumpster.
However, some perfume salespeople will be more persistent. Undeterred by your Olsen-like attire, they will interrupt your peaceful perfume browsing and demand that you try the hot new light clean l’eau fresh fruity floriental noir. If you politely tell the salesperson that this perfume is not exactly to your tastes, she will immediately accost you with another one just like it. At this point, I usually try Jedi mind tricks. If the saleswoman is not particularly susceptible to suggestion, you can:
- Earnestly explain that you are Ambassador [your name here] of the United Federation of Planets, and that your mission here is merely to study the mating rituals of pre-23rd century Earth. Sternly reproach the saleswoman that you will have to note the conspicuous absence of Klingon employees in the captain’s log.
- Smile ruefully and tell the saleswoman that you are unable to smell perfume due to your longstanding cocaine habit.
- Accuse the saleswoman of being a socialist for promoting French-made products. If she protests, demand to see her birth certificate.
- Ask the saleswoman what hair products she uses to make her hair so soft. Before she can answer, reach out and begin caressing her hair while muttering to yourself about how soft it is.
Do you have any other suggestions for warding off perfume salespeople? Or do you have an ingenious strategy for educating them about perfume?