Vintage Fragrance Finds: How To Traipse the Treasure Trail


Post by Greg Young



Hi fragrance fans.

Some time ago, I decided to become a fragrance treasure hunter.

One day in a suburban op shop, I noticed a couple of bottles of men’s after-shave on the counter.

 Greg Young OpShopFindDonated by Greg Young

Although not familiar with either, I picked up these two on a whim. When I mentioned my find to some fragrance friends, they went crazy. I concluded that I’d better keep an eye out for perfume in op shops in future!

Treasure Trail Animal_Welfare_charity_shop WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

With op shopping, the joy is in the hunt. Most days you will find nothing, but just occasionally you will spot something that makes your heart leap. That is the adrenaline rush of the big find; it happens very rarely, but it is wonderful when it comes.

The secret is to do a lot of searching. Lee Trevino once said, “The more I practice the luckier I get”; this is very true of op shopping. If I have time to spare and I’m near an op shop, I nearly always take a look. You never know.

Of course Trevino didn’t practice by swinging wildly at a ball. You have to give yourself a chance by being a bit smart: Here are a few tips:

• Ask yourself which localities are likely to have people nearby donating luxury items. It’s not universally true, but well-heeled suburbs are a good place to start.

• Check any locked cabinets in the shop, and the shelves behind the counter, where the upmarket stuff is displayed.

• Most op shops have baskets of soaps and make-up. Find them and check for samples, minis, etc.

• Look for bottles; there may be some that still have a bit of juice left.

• Look for pretty things – fragrances may be put next to such displays.

• When you have a big find, go back a week or so later. That treasure you found may have had some friends out the back.

• Ask the sales attendants if they have any perfume or cologne. They may know what is lurking out the back. It always helps to make friends with the staff.

Treasure Trail  CarBootSale GeographPhoto Stolen Geograph

The same tips apply pretty much to markets. In markets, I tend to look out for:

• Stalls selling bric-a-brac, pretty things, vintage items and so on.

• Stalls being run by young girls who are essentially selling their old stuff. As well as their clothes racks, they will often have celebrity or designer scents

• Stores selling old bottles.

Many of you will be able to recognise bottle shapes instinctively. I once spotted a Bond No 9 bottle from 5 metres away. So always glance around as you wander, and give your subconscious a chance to work.

Check how any scents that you find have been displayed. Buying vintage fragrances that sat in sunlight for hours on end is not likely to end well.

Treasure Trail  antique Skitterphoto PixabayjpgPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Antique shops need a different approach. Be up-front about what you are looking for. They welcome you coming back often, and don’t mind if you don’t buy; they understand that they may not have what you collect. I just tend to go straight up to the counter and ask if they have any vintage perfumes in. That’s normally enough, but I always check the displays anyway, just in case.

So what has this treasure hunting got me? Well, that’s a subject for a whole different article.

Have you any tips for spotting vintage treasures?

3 thoughts on “Vintage Fragrance Finds: How To Traipse the Treasure Trail

  1. ok, no hate…

    the best vintage perfume score i ever had was by simply meeting someone who was in the process of throwing his ex’s stuff out.

    in my defense, this breakup happened years prior and it was part of a long needed healing process. and yes, i explained the value of what was given, but they didn’t care.

    and neither did i because not one drop was saved- i enjoyed every love-turned-sour-won vintage spritz.


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