Bargains That Hunt (Haunt?) Me

“The more you spend, the more you save” – we all heard this phrase or some variation of it. Every time I sigh, repeat in my head: “The more you spend, the more you spend” and resist buying things I do not need.

I’m very particular with brands I use in everyday life, so the “worst” I can do is to choose the one that is currently on sale if it’s one of those that I would buy full-priced.

Since I went down the proverbial rabbit hole, I haven’t been tempted by the deepest discounts different sites or stores like T.J. Maxx offer for mass-market perfumes. You won’t find those $20-$40 “couldn’t-pass-bys” in my collection: even though I like some of them while testing, every time I tell myself that I would buy a bottle as soon as I finish that sample – and I never do.

If to add all that to my cat-like “spontaneity” (I can wiggle for months or even years before pouncing on a bottle of perfume I loved when I tried it), one would expect my collection to be an extremely curated and tailored closely to my tastes. It could have been so if it weren’t for my Achilles heel – niche perfumes bargains.

Every time I come across a discount for the niche line that you cannot usually buy other than for the full price, or see a true bargain, I feel that I just can’t miss that opportunity! Or what, you’d ask? It’s not that I wouldn’t or couldn’t pay full price for a bottle of perfume if I really liked it. And the only risk of not having perfume to wear comes from me not being able to choose which one from my collection I want on that occasion. But at those times all my rationality goes out the window.

For a while I was able to dodge the bullet by buying perfumes that I would have probably bought anyway but recently I got a couple of “misses.” I still hope I’ll change my mind on one of them,  so I won’t mention it now. The second one was L’Artisan‘s La chasse aux Papillons. It was cheap (I think around $35 for a new 50 ml bottle), old design (who knows what happens with these perfumes now, when they’ve changed the bottles), and it was La chasse aux Papillons (nice perfume, everybody likes it – right?).

Rusty and La Chasse aux Papillons

When I got my bargain bottle and applied this perfume for the first time, I realized that I didn’t know or remember it. I’m positive that I tried it several years before and I thought that I liked it then, but the perfume I smelled from my wrist was completely unknown to me, and I couldn’t explain to myself what had possessed me to buy it without testing it one more time (I still had the sample!). It isn’t unpleasant, I do not dislike it, but with so many perfumes that I love in my collection why would I spend time wearing something that is just “nice” or “not bad”?! It seems Rusty shares my feelings: the picture above was the only one I managed to take of him and La chasse aux Papillons. After that he was totally not interested in that bottle.

Rusty and La Chasse aux Papillons

You would think that should have taught me… I am getting better. Once I read in Vanessa’s (Bonkers About Perfume) post that at The Fragrance Shop she “clocked the fact that Mary Greenwell Plum is on offer at £28.50 for a 100ml bottle, or £19.50 for 50ml. The more you spray, the more you save!” (emphasis mine), I immediately went for the sample I had.

I liked it. Probably as much as I did two years ago when I wore it from my sample for the last time. I went back to the shop’s site and put a 50 ml bottle in my “bag” (I’m curious, is “bag” a U.K. equivalent of the U.S.’s “cart”? Vanessa’s “on offer” was also a new form for me being used to “sale” or “deal” in similar context). The site immediately informed me that just for £9 more I could get twice as much perfume. I do not like 100 ml bottles. I think that even 50 ml is too much for most perfumes. But just £9 difference… I wore Plum for the next 2 days trying to figure out how I feel about it. I didn’t love it, so I decided to be rational and not to buy a 100 ml bottle… or a 50 ml one. “And this time I almost made it, came so close to saying no”, but Vanessa’s next post with a giveaway of the Mary Greenwell Plum bottle from Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes (what is the chance of having two unrelated “papillon” mentioning in one post?!), who couldn’t resist the bargain but didn’t like it afterwards, had a strange effect on me: I felt a new surge of desire to buy this perfume. I struggled with myself for a while but finally capitulated and bought… two 8 ml purse sprays – one for me and one for the giveaway.

Mary Greenwell Plum

Since this perfume will arrive to me from the U.K., where you still can buy it for a song, I decided that one trip over the ocean should be enough, so the giveaway is open for anybody in the U.S. Other than letting me know that you live in the U.S., just tell me if you’ve already tried and liked Plum or want to try. The draw will stay open until the Labor Day, when the bottle is supposed to arrive. Either Rusty, or will choose the winner.

Do you succumb to bargains? What was your best bargain haul ever? Which was the most regrettable?


Images: Rusty & La chasse aux Papillons my own; Plum – my friend’s A., also known as a “perfume mule”

38 thoughts on “Bargains That Hunt (Haunt?) Me

  1. I loved so much about the post – your nuanced analysis of the mysterious business that is purchasing psychology, the two random mentions of ‘Papillon’, Rusty looked underwhelmed by the L’Artisan bottle, Rusty’s disappearing bottom(!), the reference to A, the trusty ‘perfume mule’, who has done such sterling service between our continents – ‘sterling’ being the operative word in the case of your latest succumbing to a bargain. ;)

    I am historically guilty of those drive by cheapie bargains, but like to think I am immune to almost all urges to buy a full bottle these days. Though Geisha Noire is giving me a mental workout in that regard as we speak!

    PS Thanks for the mention / link. ;)


    • Thank you, Vanessa.
      I’ve never seen Rusty doing something like that before: it was a new chapter in his ways to avoid being in the same picture as a bottle I’m trying to beautify by his presence.

      I have two, maybe three bottles on my “kind-of-want-to-buy” list but I don’t know when I get to them – maybe tomorrow, maybe in a year. But I’m probably done for a while with “bargains.”


  2. You really were cautious with your purchase and I giggled when I read the line where you say that instead of 100ml or even 50ml bottle you bought two small travel sprays. We like travel sprays, don’t we. If they were more economical per ml I would probably have a few of those from Diptyque and maybe one from Kilian.

    I really don’t hunt perfume bargains but one of niche stores in Poland organizes a sale twice a year (actually I just got their newsletter and the next sale is in 2 weeks) – I never got anything on their sale but many perfume lovers use this opportunity to buy a perfume they like and organize a split. Sometimes I buy decants :)


    • At this point I stopped really caring for the per ml cost: I do not need more than 15-20 ml of any perfume for myself at this point, so whatever I get in excess to that amount, most likely, will just get off eventually.


  3. My first reaction was to cringe guiltily, but upon reflection I talk myself back from the ledge more often than not. Generally, I manage to keep myself from buying things I’m lukewarm about. I do love a perfume bargain, though, and I am much more likely to blind buy a 100ml “sample” if it’s something that everyone seems to love or if samples are hard to find. There’s a travel set of a line I’ve wanted to try at one of the discounters that I’ve put on my cart about 25 times. I expect it will sell out and I’ll kick myself, but I made a blind purchase that didn’t work out (it was actually a mistake, the SA got confused and sent the wrong thing and it was too much trouble to return), so I’m a bit gun shy at the moment.
    I mostly wanted to compliment Rusty on his puffy bloomers and floofy tail. He looks much nicer from behind than my short-haired overlords, who’s tails aren’t really sufficient to cover the essentials from any angle. I bet he’s great at dusting beneath furniture. I’m not a huge fan of La Chasse either, though it smells very nice on other people.


  4. Okay you taunted me! ;) I love La Chasse, and I also really love Plum and my sample is used up, so count me in on the draw! Thanks Undina!! xo (and hello Rusty!)


  5. Hey Undina. I don’t recall ever purchasing something simply because it was a bargain. Perhaps my extremely successful purchase of Shalimar EdC at a bargain 35€ might count. I would not have bought it at €135.
    I don’t hunt sales as such, but twice a year in Vienna there is a 20% off day at a store which includes the Chanel Exclusifs. I have taken advantage of that. Your post is as great as ever. 😀 xxx


    • Thank you, Val.

      In the U.S. you can almost never get %off perfumes or cosmetics in the B&M stores, only online. So sometimes temptation is just too strong. But I’m getting better :)


      • From the princess (queen?) of buy more save more: Lord & Taylor offers 10% off on cosmetics and perfume 3-4x a year and Nordstrom matches. L&T also has the holiday doorbusters coupons $40 off a modest minimum purchase that can also be used on cosmetics and perfume. Sephora has its 15% or $x off. Oh yes, the gift card events at BG and Saks.


        • No Lord & Taylor where I live. No BG as well. There’s one Saks, true. And a couple of Neiman Marcus. But those gift cards require spending $250 and up before you get anything back – so not the same as an old good %off. But I’ll agree with you about Sephora. I just keep missing that 15% off. And I need to learn more about that Nordstrom match (though I thought it was through their website, not through B&M stores).


  6. I love these photos of Rusty being cool and aloof to La Chasse, and then giving it the stink tail when he looks like he is going off on his own chase! :D

    Don’t include me in the draw, as I’ve already tried Plum (I do like it – it reminds me of Amouage Opus I – and since I already own the latter and don’t need any more perfume, I’ll pass).

    Btw, I think La Chasse is quite pretty, but I can see why it might not have enough oomph for you. Do you think part of the reason you don’t like it, though, is that you don’t in general care for tuberose?


    • P.S. And to answer your question, I don’t succumb to bargain shopping. Which doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t spend money (I spend too much, but my approach is highly targeted and not swayed by bargain deals.)


    • Just to let you know that your blog is a source of pleasure, learning and reference Suzanne, and I am glad you will post again. And the new look is lovely. Thank you for all your work!


    • Now I feel even worse: I didn’t even checked the notes before buying that bottle! ;) You might be onto something with that tuberose though…

      I thought Rusty was cute from that side (and it’s something new in my blog: usually he tries to just turn or run away, not climb away).


  7. What a great post, Undina!

    The best find that I have ever witnessed was when I was out with the Smelly Vagabond (do you know him?). We were at Nordstrom Rack when he spied a Guerlain L’Art et et La Matière buried in-between all the Juicy Couture boxes. Gourmand Coquin, for $49.97 with an additional 25% because it was in the clearance bin. I asked him if he ever smelled it before and he said no, but he didn’t care :-)

    Since we don’t have a Nordstrom in NYC, Nordstrom Rack accepts returns for items bought at Nordstrom and just marks them down. Can you believe it? I always look now!


  8. I am always glad when a perfume post give me food for thought about my fragrant life. Thank you! I realised after reading that my most beloved perfumes are not blind bought, I spent time with them, often falling in love immediately but emptied the sample and waited some time before buying a bottle. But I do succumb to bargains, although less so, and some work out well, and others don’t. What I try to do is when I get ‘grabbed’ by must buy bargain, too good too miss, once in a life chance etc. is to wait a day and see if it is still so urgent. And often it isn’t.


    • I’m against blind buys and other spontaneous perfume acquisitions. It’s just that sometimes I cannot reason with myself ;)

      Both “cart” and “basket” are familiar, I wouldn’t look the second time. But “bag”… “Shopping bag” I associate rather with B&M stores than online ones.


  9. Rusty has the cutest furry bottom! I hope he successfully escaped the La chasse aux Papillons, he certainly looks like he was trying pretty hard :) I haven’t bought perfume in ages, having realized that I have enough perfume that I own (and love) but still don’t spend enough time with! That said, I am sorely tempted by deals ALL THE TIME.


    • I slowed down with perfume purchases in the last couple of years and wear, mostly, perfumes I love – so at least no regrets in that area. But looking at my collection: I don’t think I’ve even made a dent wearing all those perfumes, and I still have more than enough for one person. It means that every next bottle that comes into my collection has to be very special (now let’s see how that works out in the next 4-5 months with all the holidays and sales coming up… ;) ).


  10. Dear Undina, I love this post from the title to the pictures to the contents. My spiral into the rabbit hole accelerated when I realized that the decant sites mark up perfumes so much that I am better off buying a full bottle and not put a dent in it. I don’t blind buy anymore; I buy ginormous samples. Life is too short to deprive myself of the finer things in life (as long as I do not go into debt), whether they be the biggest bargain or luxury-priced perfume that many think are not worth the price (I am not spending “your” money). To balance the universe, I contribute to charity an equal or greater amount than what I spend on perfumes.

    DNEM as I have a sample of it lying around somewhere.


    • Thank you, hajusuuri! Titles are very important to me: sometimes I can’t publish for several days because I’m not sure what the title should be; other times I start with the title – and everything just goes smoothly from there.

      While I do not mind splurging on perfumes that I love, having big bottles that I’ll never be able to use just seems wrong. So at this point in my perfume life I’m willing to pay more per ml for a smaller bottle (if the brand has them) or settle for a decant (to help those who couldn’t resist those “ginormous samples”, you know ;) ).


  11. I had almost exactly the same experience with La Chasse. (I pounced on a £30 100ml bottle at TKMaxx, which then turned out to smell not at all like the scent I originally found pretty and charming, but surprisingly wearable. Fortunately, it delighted a friend, who can now spray with abandon and waft about feeling just right. Whereas with this version, I felt like a troll dressed in wisps of faded eau-de-nil chiffon.) I have learned from a few too many “_what_ was I thinking?” impulse purchases, but still play in the in-the-basket-out-of-the-basket hokey-cokey too often. But as long as they mostly end up out of the basket, that’s ok.

    I am currently playing this indecisive game with a bottle or two in the 20% off promotion at Escentual. Argh! But, I think Bapteme de Feu may reach the “oh, just buy it already” stage.

    (p.s. much admiration for Rusty’s gorgeousness)


    • I constantly play that “basket game” (though I rarely have to take anything out – I just wait for it to be sold out).
      20% off would tempt me for perfume that I want to buy anyway. “la chasse”s of this world have to be on a really good sale (but I’d rather they weren’t ;) ).


      • I’m glad I am not the only one :)

        I finally pressed the checkout button, so will stop driving the long-suffering SA at House of Fraser crazy by my repeat lurking and spritzing at the Lutens shelf. Hurrah! (very poor form, I know, to test several times at one place and buy at another. But… twenty per cent is twenty per cent, damn it.)


        • Congratulations! I find it even more rewarding when you buy something that you wanted for a while. And don’t worry about where you try it: I’d feel bad only if it was a small niche or indie store. With big stores you shouldn’t feel bad.


  12. I had the same experience as you with La Chasse! Made me feel guilty for not being blown away by it, but it’s just not for me. For financial reasons, I am never tempted by “bargains” any more. I do, however, buy samples and decants frequently,…. looking for love…..


    • I stopped buying samples because at the rate tested/liked that I have it’s probably an even bigger waste of resources. But I try to swap/exchange with friends or try new perfumes at stores. Decants are slightly different: if I tried something and liked or really want to try (there are just several brands, for which I’ll do something like that), I can buy a decant in a split from FB or one of my perfumista friends.
      Just in case: you are not in the U.S.? Or do not want to be entered in the draw?


  13. What a fabulous post, Undina. I bet that bargains are many a perfumista’s Achilles heel.
    One thing is a heavy discount and the other is the danger of evil bay and forum members selling of their (hardly) used bottles. All of a sudden you feel like you have to own that non-wish-list bottle, because at the price and how much you remember liking it,mor how much the notes sound like ‘just you’… I am better now, a lot better actually, but of course it still happens now and again.
    Obviously not being in the US, no need for entering me :-) and this was a bargain I wasn’t too tempted by since at the moment I truly feel I have quite a lot, and not enough space.


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