Monday, April 2, 2012

Troubles in the Kingdom of The Perfumed Court?

The sensationalist title is perhaps a bit outre. I can't know for sure what exactly passed between the three ladies at the Perfumed Court, the online decanters who have made a reputation as a credible perfume venue ~if expensive~ for perfume addicts everywhere. But something's changed for sure. In short, the outfit as we knew it is no more.

the old times TPC team (from left to right): Lisa, Patty & Diane with Shirl via

Instead my information tells me that Patty and Lisa have departed in order to open a NEW decanting business site, while Diane is left to run the previous site as per her sole mention on the "About" page as of this minute  ["For over four years Diane offered a huge selection of scents on eBay under her seller name Dragonfly00. Diane distinguished herself by her ability to acquire vintage and rare fragrances. She is also quite an expert on ouds. Diane is located near Atlanta, Georgia."]

The split is official as evidenced by the following email which has reached the inbox of several subscribers to their list:

"Lisa Lawler and Patty White are opening a new perfume sample and decant website - - this week! It is under construction as we finish up all the details to make this a wonderful resource for you.
Like us on Facebook to get the latest news on the grand opening.
We have loved bringing perfume to you for all these years at The Perfumed Court and hope very much that we will have the joy of seeing you at our new home."
There was a previous "split" with Fishbone, another collector who used to sell on Ebay, a few years ago. The reasons for that, I'm sure, were of a different nature.

I wish them (all of them) all the best in their new endeavours and I join my prayer with those of hundreds out there that the change of scenery might mean a change in price policies too!
The loss of one member does potentially signal a problem though: As the three among them possessed a vast collection of different bottles each, the convenience of TPC meant covering all bases for almost everything in one place. It will be harder to corner that now.
Just one thing, I can't resist: "Surrender to chance"? Is purchasing decants & vintage samples a game of chance now or a risk like online gambling? I know they didn't ask me,  it's none of my business and the name is a registered domain by now, but...

What do you think?  What does this piece of news signal for you?


  1. Oh, I shall be sorry to see the end of The Perfumed Court - the little gauze bags with their gold logo on it may become collectors' items in time, or their branded decant bottles, indeed.

    Tbh, the news probably won't affect me too much now as my furious sample-acquiring phase is well behind me, but I remember the days when I was placing monthly orders of $25-$50, sometimes more!

    I do wish them well in their new venture, and like you, I think "surrendertochance" is a bit of an ambivalent name. Not everybody approaches sample buying as a carefree lucky dip, and I know I used to be gutted by a bad choice, which happened quite regularly, in fact! Maybe the name could have had a slightly more upbeat spin, but it is original and fun all the same.

  2. V,

    thanks for chiming in!

    Well, I don't think TPC is going to close. Diane is probably going to do the upkeep and I understand she has quite the collection (and contacts) to keep it going at a satisfactory pace.

    You do have a point on the rest (name included).

  3. I was certainly surprised to get the announcement email last night. Thank you, V, for your excellent reporting-- as always, you keep the rest of us informed!

    I was struck, not so much by the "Surrender to Chance" name, although it did make me stop and think for a second because it didn't reference anything about scent ... at all. What really made me scratch my head was their tag line: "Just Perfume No Pressure."

    Which... makes more sense for a bricks-and-mortar joint like LuckyScent or Aedes, frankly, and, for me, is part of the appeal at shopping at those places. I'm just simply not aware of the "pressure" involved in online sample and decant buying. Maybe I'm missing something...

    Well, it will make for a new chapter in the online sample buy. I wish everyone involved well-- heaven knows those three have given me a lot of pleasure throughout the past few years!

  4. Thanks!

    There is indeed such a tagline. I assume
    1)they either reference something from the past (wishing to exorcise it), or
    2) keeping two seperate sides to their site (one for buying, one for other stuff), so it might be an either or option for anyone who enters (this theory makes sense I think)

    It's true that in a brick & mortar shop you can enter, browse, sniff and leave without making a purchase. Till teleolfaction becomes a reality, this can't be the reason behind the "no pressure" claim.

    Anyway, hopefully one or another will come by and clarify, hopefully. It's something that would interest lots of readers and I thought it was a good venue to discuss it with minimum fuss.

  5. Mimi Gardenia17:19

    I wish Lisa and Patty the best with their new site and hopefully the prices will be a bit better. I got my email too and I was pretty surprised.

  6. M,

    it was rather unexpected for most people, I bet ;-)

  7. Cheryl G.18:05

    It looks like we can have a sneak peek at their logo at this link:

  8. Stephan18:08

    Sorry, but for me this seems bad karma made visible. They treated me very badly putting me on a level with crooks, just because I reside in a far-away, untrustworthy Asian country. They do not know the word courtesy, and thus they shall reap what they sow.

  9. Cheryl G.18:11

    Oooh, Oooh! Read Patty's comments about the logo contest she held.

    Some additional feedback. The way we think about our name in relation to our business is we are asking our customers to surrender the way they think about perfume and what they think they like to try something completely new or different, to take a chance. the original idea came up from a trip we made to Morocco and we were sitting on the top of a sand dune in the Sahara, and we were there completely by chance and only because we had surrendered control and just gone with it. Hope that's helpful!

  10. When I checked my email this morning, I was taken by surprise. I wonder if there was a falling out between the three of them. For the past year or so, I've bought a lot of decants from The Perfumed Court. I'm gonna wait and see ehat happens.

  11. As somebody who doesn't like any changes, I'm sad to learn about this one. I hope it'll work out for all of them.

    I do not buy too many samples any more and prefer to buy my decants from splits, but for me it was always comfortable to know there is such service where I can buy almost anything in a quantity smaller than a bottle but bigger than other sites' sampling programs offer. And because they offered such a great variety I never thought their prices were too high.

    Even before you posed the question I thought that the name was ... not obvious. Even after the explanation from the comment, I'm not sure I'm "buying" it. I do not know who they see as their target audience and what will be their price point but decants aren't something you surrender to a chance with (unless those are splits at cost for a very popular perfume or a well-loved perfume house/perfumer). And for samples "to try something completely new or different" many other places are much better priced. But we'll see.

  12. Anonymous22:38

    I was also surprised by the email this morning... and slightly worried since I placed an order of the weekend with TPC! I have had really good experiences with TPC in the past, and hope that both TPC and the new venture will be successful.

  13. I am sad to comment that "surrender" and "chance" aren't words that instill a lot of confidence in me as a consumer. Then couple that with a slogan that includes "just", "no", and "pressure", and I can't say I'm feeling any better.
    Maybe an ad person could help them choose something more inviting.
    As a novice perfumista and still in my sample buying years, I'm sure I will try out their site at least once just to see how it all goes, I just wish for their sakes it might be more attractive to new shoppers. I always wish new ventures well. It takes courage to get out there and make a go of anything.

  14. Anonymous03:55

    i hope they can cut some of their costs - because TPC was expensive. i quit ordering after a while because it just wasn't cost-effective.

    i'm thinking the tag line means more along the lines of "we won't pressure you to buy (the way a store associate might)- we'll just let you try. but i may be wrong.


  15. Anonymous06:11

    I think it's great to have another resource for perfume. The more at the party the better!

    As for the new name, it does take a while to get used to it. I keep thinking it's "Surrender to Charm"!


  16. I was actually excited that there would be a little more choice in reliable decants (and of course the hope of better prices), but of course the email made me wonder what was going on. I dont buy many decants these days, but I do check in with TPC now and then to compare price points between various perfumes.
    The name: After thinking on it for a minute, I decided it was because when you buy a decant, many times you are taking a chance that this will be the one that knocks your socks off. I can never imagine just one perfume to do that anymore, but I know I am always looking for another serious contender in my collection. Anyway, I hope that both ventures work out wonderfully.

  17. Cheryl,

    I'm late, I missed that. But I see they have the logo on their new URL already. Or is it going to be different?

  18. Stephan,

    I'm very sorry for your experience.
    I trust that it was a mistake or something analogous.

  19. Cheryl,

    thanks for the additional feedback! I'm glad to hear there's a rationale behind it all and a personal memory too. Let's hope it's communicated to the intended customers too.

  20. Eld,

    it's obvious there must have been. :/
    Yet I feel if they need to tell us something outright, they will in their own time, though like with Fishbone I don't suppose that will happen any time soon. But you know, it doesn't matter in the end. What matters is there's a new venue for perfume decants and this might be for the best for the consumer.

  21. Undina,

    that's right, I agree. It's sad to see the opportunity to find everything under one roof go. This was always a constant and a relief to know that if one wanted something unfindable, there was TPC to find it.
    Let's hope that other advantages rise up however! Let's be optimistic. And wish them well of course.

    As to the name, I'm a little skeptical myself but anyway. They know best.

  22. Anon,

    I don't suppose your order won't be honoured. Good luck!

  23. Sujaan,

    you have a point. Perhaps they might reconsider at some point? Who knows.

    It does take guts to start something afresh and I wish them from my heart all the best.

  24. J,

    I do admit that it has never been my first option of locating something either. But that was only due to cost, considering I try so many different things due to the nature of the work. They have provided an invaluable service to the newbies and more seasoned ones and we need to say that.

    Good theory on the tag line. I think you nailed it!

  25. Taffy,

    delightful variation on the tag line! I love it!

    I agree that more venues means healthy competition.

  26. KK,

    indeed it is as you say. I do wish them the best and that all these experiences of buyers shared will shed some light into what is expected of them.

    Let's wait out and see...

  27. kathleen13:34

    I'm wondering which will continue with the unreasonable prices, and which will come down to earth, a bit

  28. Sorry, but i don't undestand all this ado about the name. It's just a name, and it's a perfume decanting page only! To me, if they offer decants of obscure and hard to find fragrances, have a reliable shipping and ordering process and ships to Brazil, they could have called anything, even Monkey splits if they want.
    I see it as a good idea, we have few split sites as options, one new competitor may bring better prices and services. Hope that others come to the business soon.

  29. I suspect that if there is any problem is not something new. If you analyze TPC new inventory last year you'll notice that they started to take much longer to add new arrivals to their base. I remember that in 2009-2010 sometimes they had the fragrance even before sites like LS. In 2011, you see that they started to take 1 or 2 months to add the new options, and sometimes even more. Also, i never saw so many sales at TPC like last year. Seing this, there is may be something happening for some time that got into this split of the parts.

  30. I got the email and immediately thought, uh oh, someone had a falling out. I stopped buying sample vials from TPC because its better for me to swap on MUA. I just think the prices are insane for my budget and go without for the most part. The only thing I can say about the name is, I will never remember it! If there is no reference to perfume in it, how would I?

  31. Ok, it's mean of me but I confess I'm feeling a little schadenfreude here. TPC came off as high-handed and self-satisfied, as though in charging you quite honestly the highest prices for many things on the internet, they were doing you a tremendous favour. I went straight to them in the first week of my perfume ardour (which pretty much dates me to 2009), placed a large order, received everything pretty quickly, and then never did it again. Why? Prices.

    Yes, the selection is fantastic. But as an argument that only stands up if your time is truly more precious than your money - in which case TPC was the perfect site for you. Because in the grand scheme of things, sourcing an HTF fragrance is not really very hard (think of people who collect, say, rare books), the time saved in buying multiple samples through TPC is pretty insignificant compared to the money not-saved.

    I think their USP was also heavily eroded by Aedes and Luckyscent, both of whose sampling progams are great, alongside less hoity-toity places like The Perfume Shoppe. When you add in the advent of the Google Scent Splits group, the splits wiki, basenotes, Perfume of Life, MUA and Crystal Flacon, not to mention all the smaller independent splitting sites (Posh Peasant &c) it is hard to imagine how TPC could possibly compete - its niche has been eaten away at both ends.

    Of course, TPC could have done what comparitively larger firms in markets like this typically do - ie, leverage their bulk to get discounts and undercut the competition. But because at the end of the day they too are secondary sellers who have to buy retail in one form or another - no brand in their right mind would give a bulk discount to a reseller like TPC - that course of action is unavailable to them. They could only have kept their edge through buying the largest available bottles of things and selling them at very carefully calculated price points, so that it is still *just* cheapest for customers to shop with them. (I'm thinking, for eg, that they could have bought a litre of Shalimar Parfum from Guerlain, and used the ensuing price diff /ml to make their profit.)

    I really do wish all the best to the new venture, but I find it pretty hard to imagine what a business like this will have to offer over much smaller enterprises that have lower overheads and therefore better prices. To me, the private at-cost splits groups sound like a death knell for firms like TPC.

  32. Henrique,

    oh sure, the main part is good service and good selection! No doubt about that. The name is just speculation and a bit of gossip I guess on our part.

    As to the other issue you bring forth, I guess there's a point of over-saturation and a point of falling out of love with collecting a bit? Though I realise that it's more of a business than just three personal collections where such factors would influence decisions first and foremost.
    Besides, after the initial enthusiasm of finding everything under one roof I guess buyers found out about other ways to get what they want/need. Not to mention a lagging behind of writing about the new things might have also played a part in this (this is where personal boredom is somehow connected to business management).

    Of course this all is just theories and discussion on our parts, not to be taken as gospel.

  33. Stelma,

    swapping is an excellent medium for samples and it can be even unofficially conducted (friends sending each other new things).
    This is a consideration about the name; I wonder whether they will heed it.

  34. MS (lovely Latin-like alias)

    please feel free to share your opinion and sentiment. I'm sure it might even be helpful to new businesses and ventures.

    In 2009 I guess the market was cornered by TPC and they were more or less free to name just any price they deemed right. Of course we need NOT forget that they also had certain costs to face: building a site, holding a contract with the post office possibly, inventory buying to fill in gaps, paying logistics services etc.
    It was also rather early in the crisis and the aftermath hadn't been felt by many people, so more people were willing to pay high prices for perfume samples.
    I think the thing went "awry" (is that even the right word? I don't mean to sound offensive at all) as soon as people realised that some of the bottles in the collection came from Ebay directly, where we all know that good deals can be had. That's not to imply that they bought just anything, because we know that they did buy off boutiques too (and yes, your hypothesis on litre perfumes bought allowing a margin of profit is totally correct) and that they know what they buy and know how to check. But still it creates a bit of a disappointment in the consumer who checks both sites to compare prices, especially on vintages and limited editions.

    The business policy of trying to offer a competitive price compared to the manufacturer pays for rather big decants instead of small decants or samples, I guess. For a short while, before Splits became a well known practice, it seemed you could either get on a sampling programme somewhere on the brand's site or an online retailer and get 1ml of something or otherwise you had to buy a whole bottle (even a small bottle is usually 30ml which is a lot for some scents or for some collectors). This left those wanting just 5ml or 10ml for personal testing or personal use at a no man's land which TPC was quick to attend to and which it seems it sought to take advantage of.
    However in a matter of a couple of years splits came on board and offered a new direction, to address exactly that need (I assume because some people were objecting to the high prices!), and with a great selection too (exactly because so many collectors were involved) , so the balance of time gained vs. money saved (great description on your part, btw) leaned at a different direction than before. In a way, perhaps TPC shot itself in the foot. What do you think?

    It will be interesting to see what happens next. We're before a new era and I'm genuinely curious to see developments.

  35. Anonymous06:25

    One of the worst online shopping experiences I have ever had ... ever. After waiting 10 days for my order to ship, I threatened TPC with legal action. Twenty four hours later, my order was shipped. The BBB has more than a few complaints lodged against TPC, specifically related to outrageous delays in shipping.

    1. Anon,

      I suppose the often mentioned delays are the reason why the 2 ladies have left and founded their own online retail company of decanting. Can't blame them.
      On the other hand, and to be fair, I know a busy life schedule can interfere with one's rhythm. Of course when one has a business on the side one needs to attend to it...I don't know, I suppose I couldn't do what they do, so can't really judge.
      All the best to all three ladies and both businesses and sorry about your inconvenience and trouble. Hope your other transactions with different business always flow smoothly.
      Thanks for reading!

    2. Anonymous16:35

      I've ordered several times from both companies and S2C is far superior to TPC. Long waits for orders and rancid decants are ridiculous! I will only trust S2C with future orders...


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