Goodbye to my Perfume Connection

For about a decade there has been in Australia a perfume chain known as Perfume Connection, consisting of mall outlets in major cities, and a website. Today the Perfume Connection shop in my city closed its doors.

When it began, Perfume Connection seemed to aim for the middle of the mainstream market: celebuscents at one end of its range, and and good smattering of the top-brass Chanels and Diors at the other. It didn’t sell knock-offs but it didn’t sell niche either.

In the early days Perfume Connection used to sell perfume minis, and when my children were small and we had hardly any money, I used to take full advantage of this. The minis ranged in price from about $19 to $25 each, which is a lot for 5 mls of perfume but of course you got the pretty little bottle. And before online fragrance selling took off, there was in my part of the world just no way to buy designer perfume cheaply. Australian department stores don’t make samples for you to take home and so unless you got lucky with a special promotion or a gift-with-purchase, it was full price or nothing.

How I loved those perfume minis in Perfume Connection, arranged like tiny jewels in their cabinet! I got to know Arpege, Cristalle, and L’Air du Temps that way, and I even that weird thing – Princess Marina de Bourbon (too fruity for me, but still fun). But then, almost over night, the minis disappeared. The company must have got busted for selling them, because minis are supposed to be ‘not for resale’.

In recent years the prestige brands at PC started to disappear in favour of lower end stuff, and brands I never see anywhere else, like La Perla and Stendhal. For ages I have been wondering what is going on at Perfume Connection and today I found out. The store in my city sold the last of its stock, and closed its doors.

Fragrances are one sector of retail in Australia hit hard by the online revolution. Even with shipping it is often cheaper to buy from a discounter based overseas. There are many reasons for this, including local taxes and a high Australian dollar. A senior SA at PC told me that the whole company is folding, including all the shops and the website. (However, the site is still up and it still lists about 35 retail outlets.) Is Perfume Connection a victim of online discounters, I asked her.

‘Well, I’m not an online shopper myself’, she hedged. ‘What about you?’

‘Ah, um, it depends on the product … ‘, I replied, equally evasively.

‘Yes’, she agreed. ‘Perfume is one of those things you have to try first, isn’t it?’

Indeed it is, I thought, but of course what people do is try the testers in the shop and go home and order online. I do it all the time (often buying not full bottles but decants). I am one of the reasons she and her colleagues are losing their jobs.

Anyway, today I made up for it a little. I bought Gucci Rush for 25% off, and an almost-full tester of Lauder’s Private Collection. My friend bought Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon, and a tester of Dior’s Poison. I have a lot of good memories of Perfume Connection, and I was glad to be there on the last day in my local store.

I’d heard of Rush but not smelled it. After testing it on my arm for an hour while I shopped for groceries, I could not get back to Perfume Connection fast enough to buy it. At home after soaking in the bath to wash off all the various perfumes I had tried, I gave myself a fresh spritz of Rush and sat down to enjoy the wonderful online reviews. Bloggers love reviewing Rush, and no wonder. If you love it, it makes you feel happy. Just – happy.

It reminds Katie Puckrick of her disco clubbing years, and even though Rush was released later than that – 1999 – I agree. She thinks of Sylvester’s ‘You make me fell mighty real’. My pick is Amii Stewart’s ‘Knock on Wood’. How I loved that song! Here it is, in all its screaming technicolour. Enjoy!

16 Comments

  1. This is sad news, indeed. I often enjoyed visiting the local Perfume Connection, but I have probably contributed to its demise with my online purchasing patterns.

    Your post reminded me of the mass closure of Melbourne book stores last year, leaving little but $5 book outlets in the CBD. It is unfortunate, but as you mention, even with shipping things are usually cheaper when sourced online. In addition, there is often greater variety online and I don’t have to chase all around town looking for something that could have been an easy click away.

    • Sad but true. In Canberra, Borders closed last year and there is now one of those chaotic $5.00 bookstores in that location. We do still have a Dymocks or two. Are there ANY bookshops in the Melbourne CBD any more??

      There are Perfume Connection stores apparently operating other cities, but I’m not sure for how much longer. I notice that the one in Hobart has shifted location. Maybe the company is just restructuring …

      • The fabulous Reader’s Feast, which was a victim of last year’s closings, has reopened on Collins St. in the old George’s building. It’s bigger and better than ever!

        • Oh nice! I used to love Readers’ Feast (and Georges, too. I’m old enough to remember it, just). I’ll make certain I visit RF next time I’m in Melbourne.

    • Oh goody! Yes, me too. It’s fun to allow yourself to enjoy something as hilariously silly as that.

  2. Hi ladies,
    The minis disappeared when the original owners sold the store and the new owners wanted to take it in a new direction. A couple of bad business decisions and the doors close. Not bankrupt though, just getting out before it goes that way I’m told. Very sad. The tester sales are pretty good though,
    Portia xx

    • Oh thanks Portia, you must have asked a few more searching questions. I still think it’s a pity about the minis – they must have enticed a lot of people into the shop. Yes, the tester sales were a great opportunity. I would not have bought mine had it not been nearly full though. It is so hot and bright in those shops. You can practically cook an egg on the counters.

  3. Yikes–I misread the title of your post as “Goodbye to my Perfume Collection” and thought, “Oh no!” Once I realized my mistake, I was glad to hear your perfume collection is intact. No perfumista should ever lose her hoard!

    My mistake aside, this was a bittersweet post to read. I’m certainly guilty of shifting my allegiances from real brick-and-mortar stores to online merchants. Two reasons: convenience and cost savings. But it does have dire consequences, especially in a tiny town like the one I live in, where the shops desperately rely on foot traffic to survive, and increasingly the store fronts on Main Street are empty as shops fail in this brutal economy. You’ve reminded me to take more care in deciding where to spend my money–and that, sometimes, spending a bit more on an item is “worth it” if it supports my local economy. Thanks for bringing up this important topic.

    • Hi Sam, thanks for your comment, and sorry to make your heart skip!

      Yes, this is a subject close to my heart too. How awful to hear of shops closing in your town. Everyone suffers when that happens. I used to live in a small town with empty shops but the main thing was that the town still had a petrol station, so people would pull off the highway for that. Without it, things would have been dire.

      I also try and think carefully about how I spend my money. I buy often from bookdepository.co.uk, to take advantage of low prices and free shipping, but I do also buy books locally too. My daughter loves to spend her pocket money in one of our few remaining bricks ‘n’ mortar bookshops. We then have to repair to the nearest cafe so that she can read her new book immediately. You don’t get that experience with an online seller!

  4. Great article. Thanks for reminding me to support the brick & mortar & smaller shops. I’d hate for them to disappear completely.

  5. I’m late to the game here, but Rush to me smells exactly like the 3rd floor of my sorority house on a Friday night, circa 2002. Wonderful memories…. ūüôā

    • Oh good, glad there are happy memories of Rush for you. Often, when I come late to an iconic perfume, I worry that what is new to me will make people around me recoil …

  6. sad news but I am surprise they can hang this long, been buying perfumes online now for about 6 years. Try feelingsexy online.

    • Thanks, yes, I have noticed Feeling Sexy but have not bought there so far.

      I have heard that a new perfume discounter is opening in the same location in my local mall as the Perfume Connection that has just closed. We’ll see how that goes …

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