Let’s go treasure hunting (by Ann)

 I’m seeing more yard sale signs popping up now that the worst of the hot weather is over (fingers crossed), and that got me thinking of ways to find vintage fragrance on the cheap.

 Are yard sales too hit-or-miss to be worthwhile? Are estate sales a better choice because they tend to be from older homes and/or there’s less junk to sift through? (Although I know that junk is in the eye of the beholder.) What about antiques stores? And does the country or the city make for better treasure hunting?

 When DH and I were young, we used to hit nearly every antiques store we passed, and we were regulars at the huge monthly markets in the large city near us, trolling for furniture, china, knickknacks and the like.  We haven’t been in years, however, as we now have way too much stuff and need to get rid of some, although the recent flooding incident is helping with that. Since everything is still pretty much packed up until the flooring gets installed, we’re finding there’s quite a bit we can live without. So we’re hoping to bring a lot less back into the house when we’re no longer pod people. Is it just me or does it seem like we spend our first 30 years or so acquiring things to fill up our lives and homes, and then the latter part trying to get rid of them?

 So let me know if you’ve got any tips or suggestions on finding fragrance in nontraditional ways. What’s been your biggest and best perfume score?

  • Jennifer says:

    I think that I must be proof of the being in the correct size city/affluence/area ’cause me and my mom have Thrift Shopped some WOW hauls!(and some dreck jean phillipe impression of _______stuff too)

    Royalty (no box or cap)
    Eau De Soir (ditto)
    near full CK Euphoria
    LOTS of minis-one was Guerlain Chant D’Aromes PARFUM (Mom was hooked on perfume hunting with this one)also some Jil Sander #4 minis and a bottle of Sun, Bobbi Brown Beachy,
    lota Wind Song,Norell,Cachet,Sweet Honesty,Charlie(love the cologne concentree=perfume strength -the galbanum goes on and on…)
    Passion by Liz Taylor,& White Diamonds also show fairly frequently.True Star by T Hilfiger and Betsy Johnson in full giftsets Bulgari eau Vert in a sampler giftset,and Opium Pour Homme in EDP(YUM!!)Ralph Lauren Lauren and a LTD ED Tresor!
    Fairly recently a giftset of Faberge Aphrodesia and Ralph Lauren Glamourous.(this is over the past hmmm..3-4 years? )
    Location: Huntsville/Madison,Alabama.

    • Jennifer says:

      Almost forgot! My Mom totally scored -Vintage Jicky parfum in it’s little white & gold box (inner box only) with hang tag on the bottle,barely (if at all)used!
      Niether one of us absolutely Loved it though(and Zorro our male cat HATES it!(or he feels threatened poor tubby darling!)so I am rehomeing it to a swapbuddy in CA,as a so-so frag doesn’t equal a week’s carpet scrubbing just beacause I sniffed the bottle(not even Applied!)of Jicky!!!!
      Now Femme IS worth it! So is Tosca 4711.

  • Meg says:

    A full bottle of vintage Borghese DiBorghese (which I understand is hard to find) for one dollar at a charity thrift event.

  • Ann says:

    Wowza, Denise! Sounds like you hit the perfumista’s version of the lottery. Congrats!

  • Denise says:

    I vote for estate sales. I’m lucky, though; I work near an upscale area and can hit sales on my lunch hour. They’re kind of hit-or-miss. I might go two or three months without finding anything, then hit the motherlode. In the past couple years, I’ve found dozens of quality minis and partials. My biggest score – the one that turned me into an estate sale junkie – was an unopened, boxed bottle of 1960’s Mitsouko EDC for one dollar. Yes, one dollar – they clearly didn’t know what they had. I keep hoping for lightning to strike again, but I’ve never been quite that lucky since.

  • Illdone says:

    Might be a nice topic, the strange reactions we get for our unusual questions and demands.

    Really, Musette, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. ;)

  • Musette says:

    I scored a gorgeous little vint. Shalimar parfum in an antique mall. $12. Still gorgeous. There was another seller there who sold bottles. Looked at me like I was nutz when I asked her about the jus! Told her the next bottles, hold on to them and I would pour the juice out into a decant. :o (that’s the look she gave me – you’d think I’d suggested peeing on the floor or something…/:)

    diff’rent strokes and all that, I guess…
    xo >-)

  • Olfacta says:

    I find most estate sales to be unbearably depressing, but have found a little (very little) perfume at them. Still, the people pawing through the dresser drawers — the used lipsticks in the bathrooms (yes, have seen that more than once) make me happy to pay the antique store markup. Not that I’ve ever actually found anything in antique stores — well, once I did, some minis, one of old-formula Femme, and once I found a half-ounce of Norell perfume at a flea market for a few dollars. Garage sales? Forget it. Unless you want somebody else’s old (and usually unwashed) clothing, appliances caked with cat hair and other horrors.

    And then there was the estate sale with a dozen large but empty vintage bottles of Bal a Versailles, the hundreds of silk and satin bed jackets, the sequined capes and robes…this really happened!

    • Ann says:

      Yep, you never know what you’ll find. If nothing else, you do get a chuckle out of the funny/odd stuff that people have collected over the years.

  • Joanna says:

    I’ve had some luck just by posting an ad on Craigslist and speaking to a local small business that runs estate sales. Some people don’t realize that vintage perfume is sought after and they end up throwing old bottles away when going through an estate.
    My mother-in-law is OCD about yard sales and consignment stores. I’ve asked her to buy old bottles of perfume if she comes across them and I reimburse her. Some of the stuff she sends is junk but I’ve gotten some great stuff from her. My favorite so far is an almost full bottle of Fendi.

    • Musette says:

      My bfff is like that – I scored a gorgeous vintage Chanel No 5 parfum from her – absolutely divine. $3. No lie. OCD estate/garage sale hunters are the best bff’s to have! ;)

      xo >-)

      • Ann says:

        You guys are so lucky! And congrats on the great finds!

        • Joanna says:

          Thanks Ann and Musette. Yes, those people who are religous about their junk sales are great friends to have! The funny thing about my mother in law is her favorite perfume is Forever Krystal which hasn’t been made in a while and she never comes across at her junk sales, (She’s in VA.) She refuses to use technology/Ebay. I still find it occassionally around here at flea markets and yard sales and grab bottles off Ebay when they are ridiculous, (Sorry. I refuse to pay big bucks for what was never high dollar perfume to start with.) I never have to think about what to get her for a present.

  • Kym says:

    Honestly, I don’t even try hunting down perfume at yard sales, antique shops or Goodwill. I live in Los Angeles and can’t help but feel all the good stuff is “found” by professional hunters. I have a friend who has found Guerlains at antique shops, but they were by no means a deal…I think it’s easier to find the goodies in smaller communities, and am interested in hearing what others have to say on this…

    • mals86 says:

      I keep trying the antique shops and thrift stores, but no luck so far. That is, I could buy allllll the Avon figural bottles I want, but Chanel or Guerlain or Patou… or even the older Cotys… nope. Nuthin’.

      My theory on this is that it depends on the size and demographics of the town. Where I live is rural/small town, and fairly economically depressed, so any bottles of upscale perfume (vintage or not) would have been in limited quantities anyway, and probably used/given to granddaughters rather than sent to Goodwill. Big city like LA? the stuff may not make its way to the thrift store, going instead to the estate-sale professionals.

      • Kym says:

        This estate-sale professionals is a foreign world to me. Although I do have a friend who got on one “professional” ‘s email list. I don’t think she’s scored anything major, though. :)

      • mals86 says:

        So what we want is a medium-size, affluent-but-not-super-wealthy city, maybe something like… Richmond. Nashville, maybe. Baltimore comes to mind, too. (Sorry, not familiar enough with the West Coast to suggest anyplace out there!)

    • Ann says:

      I agree with all your comments. Too big a city won’t work; too small or rural an area won’t work. Mals, I think your city suggestions would probably be good as well.

  • Lisa D says:

    I’ve never had any luck at all with perfume at thrift shops or garage sales – wow, that would be like unearthing a chest of gold doubloons in my backyard….

  • hongkongmom says:

    Hi there Anne! No thrift shops here in HK! I do agree with accumulating for the first part of our lives and then…..declutter. However in HK, things are purchased and then discarded just as quickly….to make way for a newer model. Really crazy!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady. Too bad about there not being any thrift shops there in HK. And yes, it’s packrat stage early on, then neatnik for the later years, at least for many of us.

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    Estate sales have been a much better bet than garage sales. I find minis at some estate sales.

    I found vintage My Sin and No.5 EDC at an antique store. They are more expensive than estate sales, though, and mostly focused on bottles. Of course, some of the bottles have perfume..

    • Ann says:

      I figured as much, since estate sales tend to have items with more age to them. Congrats on your My Sin and No. 5 scores.

  • Francesca says:

    I haven’t found any fabulous vintage stuff in thrift shops, but there are some wonderful fragrances to be had on the cheap such as Molyneux Quartz. Aside from that, I’ve gotten some beautiful things from friends who were splitting their purchases.

    • nozknoz says:

      Recently bid on Molyneux Quartz after thinking for ages that the notes sounded right for me – glad I took the chance – I really enjoy it!

      • Ann says:

        Ah, I remember wearing and loving Quartz back in the day. I’m not sure which came first, but it and Cristalle always seemed to be cousins of a sort. Need to go find some of the Q again, for old times’ sake.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Hi Ann! Hmm, not had any luck in thrift stores or yard sales – yet. My best vintage things came to me when my Grammy passed so are a very bittersweet addition. However, I k ow that she would be very pleased that her favourite fragrances ( vintage Arpege, My Sin, Magie Noire, No.5 , and Coco :in addition to Dolce and Gabbana red cap and Allure) are still getting lots of love and that her great- granddaughters are connecting with their great-grandmother in such a nice way. My mom developed anosmia about 15 years ago so she wanted me to have the fragrances- whenever we get back to the US I try to wear a ‘Grammy’ as my mom can very occasionally get a whiff of something and it makes her happy.
    Wishing all good perfume karma!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady! What a lovely tribute to your grandmother, not only for you but for your mom and your kids, too.

  • Rednails says:

    I have a thrift store that has yielded the most marvelous bottles, including vintage No. 5 cologne, Jil Sander 4 and countless others.