You know those people who swarm you every time you enter a department store? The ones wielding perfume bottles? I was one of them. For several months, I sold fragrance in a New York City shopping emporium to pay my way through college. The money was great (almost triple minimum wage), but it was, without a doubt, the most difficult job I *ever *had. You know how humiliating it is to feel ignored? Well, imagine experiencing that for ten hours straight, while standing on your feet under artificial light listening to an endless loop of Christmas tunes, filling the air with perfume that you’re not particularly fond of. The best part: You need to sell ten of those bottles by the end of your shift! I would scurry home at the end of some work days in tears, having not sold a single one.
But, boy, did I smell like I had! My clothes reeked (just ask my roommates), my head pounded, and my poor feet—you’ll never see a spritzer in heels. Most fragrance salespeople work for the perfumer, not the department store, so be wary of asking one for advice. They’re there to sell one perfume, and one perfume alone, no matter how inappropriate it may be for the customers they meet. Then there are the older, seasoned spritzers who have been selling fragrance, with no exaggeration, since before I was born. They seemed to have a magical ability (or sharp enough elbows?) to hypnotize every shopper into buying *their *fragrance. And there were other indignities. I will always remember, for instance, the day I shattered an entire bottle of fragrance on the sales floor, and the time I meant to spritz a fragrance blotter but sprayed my face instead.
What did I learn? For starters, I’ll never ignore another salesperson again. A quick nod, a “no, thank you!”—it’s so much nicer than pretending a spritzer doesn’t even exist. I also like to think that I developed a resistance to fragrance overexposure, and that’s a skill that would eventually come in handy when I arrived at Allure. If only I had known at the time.
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• Fragrance Notes: How to Buy Perfume as a Gift
• The Guy’s Guide to Buying Fragrance for a Woman