This is yet another common thread on the major scent sites. It comes up every once in a while, and what often seems to happen is that it becomes more like a thread that should be titled, “what are the best non-niche scents,” even when the original poster states explicitly that he wants to know about ones that cost under a certain amount, such as twenty dollars. There are a number of issues that arise, so I thought it would be a good idea to create a post that addresses all of them (I think). An example of this kind of thread is:
One issue concerns reformulations. For example, many reformulations of “classics” can be found at very low prices, whereas the original versions sell for much more on ebay. However, once in a while a vintage formulation “slips through the cracks” on ebay, so if the person has patience it makes sense to wait and check ebay once in a while to see, unless one wants the scent in the near future. An example from this thread is Acteur. Currently, one can find the original version for about the same price as the new one. I wouldn’t wear the new one whereas I would never swap off my vintage bottle, so to me the difference is huge. Note that any splash bottle is vintage, from what I’ve seen.
Another issue concerns what should be called a “cheapo,” in that some are made to sell very inexpensively whereas in other cases too many bottles were marketed and the prices will only be low for a period of time. Once those bottles are sold, there will not be a new formulation and prices will rise. Unless you work for the specific company, you can’t be sure, of course, but I doubt a scent like Everlast Original 1910 will be released again, after the current stock dries up. In such cases, consider where it is being sold. If it is still at major retail outlets, that’s’ one thing, but when you see it at the discount stores (online and B&M), and then after a while you only see it on ebay, you had better buy it at that point, unless you don’t mind paying five times the amount in the future !
In fact, a couple years ago new 50 ml Horizon bottles were being sold at dollar stores. I’ve never seen that sort of thing before or after, however, so don’t get your hopes too high if and when you go to dollar stores. Speaking of dollar stores, many of the scents that are usually sold there are quite good, at least for a dollar. I have found that longevity is more of an issue, other than irritating top notes. Since I avoid top notes in any case, it doesn’t matter much to me. Even a Paco Rabanne Pour Homme type scent I bought there was quite good, and in fact I would rather wear it than many “drug store” scents, which I often find nauseatingly “synthetic” or “chemical,” though in some cases with excellent (and unwanted) longevity!
And this brings me to “drug store” scents, which I regard as the classic “cheapo.” You probably know most of the names, such as English Leather, British Sterling, Jovan (though some of the older formulations were quite good), Stetson, Brut, and Old Spice. However, now what we see joining this distinguished company are reformulations of scents such as older Calvin Klein ones. So far, and in general, I have found these reformulations to be quite awful. Some seem wearable, especially for “casual” occasions and when you won’t be paying much attention to the scent, but I don’t see any reason to actually spend money on them. If I get one as a gift I’m more than happy to swap it away or put it up on ebay with several others I don’t want as a lot (so that I don’t have to deal with a bunch of individual sales, where the cost of shipping usually keeps the bidding low in any case).
Then there are “smellalike” cheapos marketed under a company’s name that apparently has some cache, such as Playboy or Adidas, as well as ones many haven’t heard about, such as the Perfumer’s Workshop’s Samba line. In my experience, the dollar store ones are a better deal, because these usually sell for roughly $10 (often in 100 ml sizes), and I’d rather “hunt” vintage or try for a lot purchase, though for $2 or $3 per 50 ml I might be tempted to grab a few of them. Lastly, there is the kind of “cheapo” few newbies seem to consider, which is the decant, usually in the 5 to 10 ml range and to be found on sites like Crystal Flacon. In particular, if you want something like a very strong amber scent but will only wear it a few times a year, a 10 ml decant might last you for many years! This is where swapping is a great idea. All you need to do is to spend $25 or so at a site like exoticfragrances.com, and then you will have the decanting supplies you need to list what you have available and what you seek in return.