Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Perfume Counter

My boyfriend, Jim, and I decided to stop by the Downtown Nordstrom to sniff out a new cologne for him, a new perfume for me. We started in Men's and were graciously helped by Leif. Once we got past the sunglasses he was wearing indoors we could see that Leif, and the others in the department, had a lot of knowledge about each of the hundreds of choices of cologne. Still, we had to laugh at the fanfare that went into applying the different options (Kenneth Cole RSVP, the new Prada, and something by Calvin Klein) to various areas on Jim's arms. There was a small squirt before a big squirt. There was wafting, waving and waiting. There was smelling, then coffee beans, then more smelling. There was grapefruit, vanilla, musk, lemon and so much more I can't even remember.

We would take occassional breaks to venture over to Women's to test out perfumes for me while letting the scents simmer on Jim's skin - important to do, it turns out, because the scents change dramatically as they react with each person's body chemistry. If we'd gone on our initial reaction we would have chosen the Calvin Klein. After letting the cologne warm up to Jim though, Prada won hands down. It was so clean and masculine on him. Yum! It also helped that Prada had a gift set - not just the cologne but a body lotion, as well.

In Women's we were lucky to be helped by the lovely Tiffani who was so entirely gracious. I explained to her my love for my current perfume, Hermes' Un Jardin En Mediterranee, but that I was almost out and wanted to try something new.

I'd smelled Vera Wang's Truly Pink in a magazine and was pleased to learn it smelled even better in person. After our extensive training with Leif we were able to pick up its grapefruit scent right away, but then it quickly turned to rose. Not a bad smell, just not what I was looking for. Tiffani then introduced me to a scent by Annick Goutal. I loved it. It was complex, feminine and not too sweet, flowery or fruity. Plus, it got better and better as it warmed to my skin.

As Tiffani prepared to ring me up I suddenly found myself surrounded by saleswomen eager to suggest other Annick Goutal items. At first all the service was flattering, but then it was just grotesque and overbearing. They were literally coming out of the woodwork like termites. Had I tried the shampoo? Its important to layer. How bout the $90 creme? Not interested in the creme, well try the lotion.

I turned to Jim and said, "Are we at a swap meet?"

"A used car lot," he replied.

Meanwhile, Tiffani was trying to extract us from the swarm. She finally separated them from us and brought us safely over to another register, explaining that the women we'd encountered didn't work for Nordstrom but rather Annick Goutal. Clearly they were trying to meet some incentive, but their behavior was over-the-top inappropriate.

Just when we thought we had escaped, Tiffani turned away for a moment to grab some extra samples. An Annick Goutal rep zeroed in on the opening and dove in for one last sales pitch. "Would you like to sign up to be on the Annick Goutal mailing list?" she asked, clipboard in hand.

It was the final straw. I lost it . . . kindly. Well, kindly enough. "You need to stop. You and your colleagues are overwhelming me and I am feeling entirely uncomfortable."

She looked shocked, but slunk away. For the rest of the transaction we watched her pouting on her own, away from the other Annick Goutal reps.

Tiffani finished ringing me up, but just as I paid I noticed the new Prada perfume. Tiffani sprayed some on my arm and I fell in love - surprising because the original Prada smelled horrible on me. Tiffani explained that they were pre-selling a package for the new Prada that included so many goodies, way more than Jim got with the men's version. So guess what I did?

I returned the Annick Goutal on the spot, which was so stinkin satisfying after their heavy-duty sales routine, and I pre-ordered the Prada. Kind of a pain for Tiffani - I'm sure she would have liked me to buy both or at the very least, not to make her do a return so quickly - but I'd made up my mind and knew my request wasn't terribly unreasonable.

All in all, Jim and I left smelling great. Check out the new Pradas for yourelf. They smell great and are part of a big Prada event the Downtown Nordstrom is having June 6th, 7th and 8th. Be sure to ask for Leif and Tiffani and tell them Jennifer from Sugar & Swank sent you.

Sugar & Swank Lessons Learned:

1. Let scents sit on your skin before making a decision on which to buy. They really change a lot when mixed with your own body chemistry.

2. The Nordstrom staff is really well trained. Be sure to utilize them when investigating a new scent.

2. Stand up for yourself. If someone is acting inappropriately ask them in a nice way to stop.

3. Whenever possible and reasonable, if it doesn't harm someone else, be sure to ask for what you want.

Have a Sugar & Swank day!

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