The benefit of in-person shopping

Thoughts and input on anything related to wet shaving or men's grooming.
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LostInCincy
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The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by LostInCincy » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:50 pm

I was on the road for nearly a month recently and needed ways to pass the time. I assume this community will approve of my choice to visit all the big wetshaving retailers that I could. I took full advantage of the various cities I travelled to and visited the following stores:

Pittsburgh: Schiller’s Pharmacy
Boston: Colonial Drug and Leavitt & Pierce
NYC: Pasteur’s on 34th AND Lexington Ave AND Cambridge Chemists

So as you can see, I basically hit all of the main stores in the northeast. It doesn’t get much better than Pasteur’s, but I tend to get to the 34th St. store at least every few years and wanted to see every other place I could. I’m really glad I did because it fit the mission I was on and I learned a thing or two.

First and foremost, I have plenty of shaving supplies and didn’t need to go to any of the stores. The reason I wanted to hunt in person was that I had specific, older formulas and products I wanted to seek out and wouldn't be able to purchase online. In these stores I managed to find the following:

Tallow-based Art of Shaving soaps (Lavender and Lemon)
Old potassium palmate Salter soap that’s just like the old Truefitt & Hill
Potassium palmate-first Trumper Rose soap
Old scent Trumper Violet tubs. This was very important to me, personally, and I didn’t even think I’d get lucky.

In addition, I was able to verify what I’d read online; that the consistency and scents of D.R. Harris creams were the same as before they first reformulated around 2007 with the new packaging and had some production issues. This was a real joy for me because the Lavender and Almond were two of my favorite creams that I’d stopped purchasing because they were awful for a while. Without getting up close and personal, I’d never have been able to do all this.

Of course, I realize not everyone is on the same nostalgia kick that I am on right now, but this was serious business and it paid off better than I would have hoped. The other, more obvious benefit of these visits is that I got a chance to see, smell and touch products I haven’t previously had the chance to. At Colonial Drug, I took a liking to a Truefitt & Hill brush that I’m guessing was a Rooney 1/1. Also there, I took a flyer on a cream I’d never seen before: Esbjerg Verbena. I liked the way it smelled and sometimes you just have a feeling for these things when you’ve been at this long enough. I’ll have more praise for that cream later.

None of this is new information. Of course it’s great to get to stores like these in person. And yet, it’s becoming rarer and rarer. Crabtree & Evelyn continues to struggle (and frankly, isn’t that compelling) and just this week I expected to visit London’s Bathecary in Williamsburg, VA only to discover that the store AND it’s sibling in Charlottesville have closed. It’s really hard for more than a few of these stores to stay alive today with the market what it is. To that end, and because I discovered it there, I’ll be purchasing any new Esbjerg products directly from Colonial Drug (via mail order). I’ll continue to spend more money than I should in person when I have the chance elsewhere. I’d like to not see every brick and mortar shop close in the next 10 years.
Dan

nicodemus38

Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by nicodemus38 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:23 pm

Yes and no,, Its not too hard to find the same item online with a lower price and free to no shipping as well.

Sure its nice to go to a place that has our things on the shelf and look in person, but most of us do not have that luxury. for the majority our in person choices are limited to whatever walgreens or walmart or target has on the shelf. And that isn't much.

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fallingwickets
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by fallingwickets » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:21 am

Dan, thanks for the great post. makes me want to jump on the closest bus and head to pasteurs asap :D

clive

the only 'shave' shop ive been to is an art of shaving and the experience was so bad I couldnt get out of there fast enough
de gustibus non est disputandum

brothers
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by brothers » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:15 am

Dan, you're a lucky guy to be presented with the opportunity to visit those iconic locations. Thanks!
Gary

SOTD 99%: 9 soaps & creams, SilkSmoke synthetic, General V2 by Colonial razors, Kai & Schick, Superior 70 aftershave splash + menthol + 444 asb

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fallingwickets
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by fallingwickets » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:23 am

Follow up question....why do you think it is that they have these 'old' formula products on the shelf whilst all the onliners dont???.....btw, i would have bought all the stock, hit ebay and retired in the life of luxury :D :D
de gustibus non est disputandum

LostInCincy
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by LostInCincy » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:49 am

It's hard to say how they had this many old products around. I think it's a balance of being big enough to have placed large orders years ago, but not doing a lot (or any) online sales. It was interesting how they would have some old versions, but new ones also on the shelf. I could have bought a few more of everything I did get, but honestly it was really starting to add up in price.
Dan

nicodemus38

Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by nicodemus38 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:37 am

low sales volume. they buy a case of something in 2003 that has 12 tubs of soap, and say they only sell 1 tub a year...

its also how some companies like razor emporium have found whole shipper cases of Gillette travel techs unopened in barber supply shops. things don't sell,, no one tosses out inventory without an expiration date.

Theres a lot of things that can be found in old stores and whatnot, the issue is most of the people who have a chance to get to it, are the owners kids.

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Rufust445
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Rufust445 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:56 pm

A few years ago I tried a 10-pack of Gillette Bleue Extras from eBay. A woman in England found a whole palette of them sitting in a warehouse. Nice blade, at least as good as the Spoilers I went through, also from eBay. The price back then was at the upper end of my price range, well below what vintage blades are going for today. No regrets about getting more Bleue Extras, as I'm currently having a great run with Shark SS.

The Rite Aid walking distance from here carried Real Shaving Co. cream in 150 ml tubes until the end of 2014. No more last year, still bummed about that. Currently working on my last tube of RS Co., with a tube of Godrej Rich Lather waiting in the wings. After that, I know where I can find 100 ml tubes of Real Shaving Co. cream, on line.

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Squire
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Squire » Sat Mar 26, 2016 3:45 pm

Fully agree Dan, nothing like standing there looking at the shelves.
Regards,
Squire

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Raze R. Blade
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Raze R. Blade » Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:02 am

I agree very much that there are benefits to the brick and mortar shopping experience. Just like always, some businesses come and go while others remain. The London Bathecary stores might be gone, but Maggards opened up and Q Brothers in Chicago became a separate, expanded store.

Most people prefer to buy things online nowadays. While there will always be certain places where retail stores can thrive, the winds of change are blowing. Stores that have only a physical presence are increasingly rare.

Winds of change are also blowing on the wetshaving forums. New ones arise while some of the older ones fade or vanish. Still other old forums remain. With both shops and forums, it has always been that way.

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Ouchmychin
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Ouchmychin » Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:06 am

Since I became disabled from a bad hip, I have had to resort to not shopping in stores (unless they have an electric cart). I live in a small community in the desert and there are very few high end stores of any kind here. I would explore TJ Max to see if someone discontinued one of the better products if I could. Haven't lived in a big city since I left college over 50 years ago.
Ouchmychin (Pete)

nicodemus38

Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by nicodemus38 » Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:21 pm

very few places have shaving gear other then fusion or mach turbo.

and the places that have stuff Is either art of shaving, or just a few packs of razor blades and a few units of Williams and a bottle of Mennen or skin bracer.

and the new forums. I don't trust them. not many actually coming up. but the experiences ive had are simply put as
poorly made, poorly intentioned. gimmicks that allow a particular online store to have a way to sucker people into buying things from them. what, get 400 retail units of a particular soap in, and cant sell it? why suddenly its "the ultimate product on that stores online shaving forum" and must be purchased by all believers or they'll look like chumps .

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TommyDawg
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by TommyDawg » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:47 am

Great post. Its unfortunate that its such a short list of quality retailers in this field (although that has been discussed plenty times over in these forums). I have noticed a very slight increase in small, local places that are new, trying to give it a go. I think the interest in wetshaving and quality products continues to grow, but only noticeable to gents like ourselves. I found a neat little shop in downtown St Pete FL while traveling there. Decent selection, and some private label creams. But who knows how long ones like this make it. There was a drugstore in Westport CT where they had a surprisingly fair amount of cabinet space to our type of gear. These are just a couple of examples that I find encouraging. Although few and far between, for sure. I live in MA, but still have not been to Colonial. It's on my list, and hope to get there sometime. Thanks for the interesting post.
Tom

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jww
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by jww » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:31 am

Squire wrote:Fully agree Dan, nothing like standing there looking at the shelves.
Yup --- I can stare for hours and hours at the shelves in the T&H shops in Toronto as much as I can in Rose and Co. Apothecary in Howarth or Leeds Yorkshire.
Wendell

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Rufus
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Rufus » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:29 am

jww wrote:
Squire wrote:Fully agree Dan, nothing like standing there looking at the shelves.
Yup --- I can stare for hours and hours at the shelves in the T&H shops in Toronto as much as I can in Rose and Co. Apothecary in Howarth or Leeds Yorkshire.
+1. Whenever I'm in London I manage to find an hour to while away in TOBS's shop on Jermyn St. I manage also to slip into Trumper's in Curzon St and Harris in Piccadilly. Even SWMBO enjoys these visits especially to TOBS, which is the most welcoming. I never seem to escape with out a couple of bags filled with new shaving kit to explore, but the visits make it all worthwhile. I should also note that there is a shop in the Piccadilly Arcade, just before Jermyn St., that carries a good selection of European shaving kit, which is worth a visit; however, I can't recall the name.
Bryan

owenm
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by owenm » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:26 pm

Rufus wrote:I should also note that there is a shop in the Piccadilly Arcade, just before Jermyn St., that carries a good selection of European shaving kit, which is worth a visit; however, I can't recall the name.
Did you mean Maitland's Chemists? It was just at the end of the Arcade. If so, unfortunately it closed a few years ago and is now Santa Maria Novella - you can see it on Google Street View if you're interested.
Cheers,
Owen

brothers
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by brothers » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:15 pm

Nothing like standing there in person looking at all of the tempting goodies on the shelves.
Gary

SOTD 99%: 9 soaps & creams, SilkSmoke synthetic, General V2 by Colonial razors, Kai & Schick, Superior 70 aftershave splash + menthol + 444 asb

Rufus
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by Rufus » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:30 am

owenm wrote:
Rufus wrote:I should also note that there is a shop in the Piccadilly Arcade, just before Jermyn St., that carries a good selection of European shaving kit, which is worth a visit; however, I can't recall the name.
Did you mean Maitland's Chemists? It was just at the end of the Arcade. If so, unfortunately it closed a few years ago and is now Santa Maria Novella - you can see it on Google Street View if you're interested.
From the shop listing I think it's Carlo Anichini, which is a barber. I haven't been there since Oct. 2014, but I'll likely be in the area this June and will check it out on my way to TOBS. :D
Bryan

owenm
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Re: The benefit of in-person shopping

Post by owenm » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:52 pm

Rufus wrote: From the shop listing I think it's Carlo Anichini, which is a barber. I haven't been there since Oct. 2014, but I'll likely be in the area this June and will check it out on my way to TOBS. :D
Interesting, I'll check it out next time I'm in town.
Cheers,
Owen

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