Time versus money; the “economics” that most of us understand!


Over at the FromPyrgos blog, in a recent post entitled “Furyo (Jacques Bogart),” there is yet another argument against something that is happening but which the author does not approve of, and it begins with the words “More Perfume Economics 101.” I must admit at how entertaining and humorous it is to see someone twist himself into all kinds of theoretical pretzels in order to be able to claim that he is “right.” In this case, he talks about what some ebay sellers are asking for certain vintage scents (no explanation as to why those were chosen, as you might expect by now), but yet again he fails to do a simple completed or sold item search to see what is actually happening. That is reality, that is “the market,” but it seems that some people are more interested in convincing themselves that they are “right” rather than in establishing the facts.

The scents in question are Joint Pour Homme (1993), Lapidus Pour Homme (1987), and Furyo (1988). In the case of Lapidus Pour Homme, we have a similar situation that exists with Red for Men, which is that the new and old bottles are nearly identical, and so one can sometimes get a great deal on a vintage bottle (assuming that one guesses correctly about the bottle being vintage). This is not the case for the first Lapidus “masculine,” from 1978, and to give you some idea about what that one sells for, doing a sold item search on ebay for 1/25/14 at about 2:30 AM EST results in a half full 100 ml EdT at $80.99 total. I don’t know what this one smells like because I have yet to get one on ebay (or anywhere else) at a reasonable price (perhaps $40). Also, I have read it is similar to Leonard Pour Homme, and I already have 100 ml of that one.

For those who don’t know, the first Lapidus isn’t that popular among collectors, apparently, at least compared to scents such as Patou Pour Homme, Egoiste Cologne Concentree, or even first bottle design Bel Ami. A sold item search showed that a 90 ml PPH sold for $471 total, for example. And a 100 ml first bottle design Bel Ami (along with a mini) sold for $239 total. So, what are the “perfume economics” here (101 or more “advanced”)? He has made claims about prices on ebay not being “real,” or something along those lines, but I can’t remember any evidence for this being the case. I have no doubt there are some shenanigans occurring, but as I’ve pointed out, there are just too many examples of scents (some fairly recent) selling for a lot more than appears appropriate, whereas others (some vintage) are selling for next to nothing (some of which I consider exceptional, especially at those very low prices).

Does he not know about the famous Dutch tulip “bubble” in the 1630s? There were also several recent bubbles (or at least mini-bubbles) in the prices of certain kinds of “fine art.” What seems to happen is that many collectors hoard until prices begin to seem “crazy,” at which point they will do at least some selling. Because many if not most have the same perceptions, there is too much selling within a relatively short period of time, leading to what appears to be a “crash” (which may or may not be long-lasting). Scents are not that expensive, and what the FromPyrgos author seems to be unwilling or unable to understand is that the people who pay $200 or more for a 100 ml bottle (or less!) may not be like him (nor me), in that to them it’s considered “chump change.” On a 2014 BBC America TV show called “Million Dollar Critic,” for example, a meal for one person at a Toronto restaurant cost nearly $500, and that was before the tip was included!

It’s also possible that some people are only interested in buying certain “landmark” or “masterpiece” scents, which is quite common in the world of collecting. I know that a couple of people who bought scents from me stated this explicitly. It’s also true that scents are often used, decreasing both the value of the bottle as well as the supply, whereas this is not the case for most collecting situations. Why is the FromPyrgos author unable to acknowledge that it’s possible that at least many scents represent an incredible bargain, relative to most other collectible markets, and that now may be the time to “stock up?” Perhaps he should go back to that shop and buy as much vintage as he thinks is well priced as possible! However, unlike in other collecting markets, many fragrance aficionados simply want to experience the olfactory pleasure of a particular scent, and relative to the retail prices of typical “designers” (not to mention niche), the ebay vintage prices are perceived as a great bargain.

The FromPyrgos author may not agree, buy why can’t he understand that this seems to be how many people view the situation? And does he ever consider the possibility that he is wrong? Of course he is entitled to buy scents based upon his own perceptions, but it seems like he is trying to will his opinion onto the market, which is obviously absurd. His final word of advice (and for this particular blog post) is, “Get off the internet and get back into brick and mortar stores if you’re looking for discontinued frags. You have nothing to lose, and potentially quite a bit of money to save.” I don’t have any such stores near me, as far as I know, and when I did some “vintage hunting” at local thrift stores, several years ago, I hardly found any good deals, let along great ones. Instead, I find the great deals mostly on ebay, and sometimes by swapping (meaning that I swap something I paid very little for, usually because I bought it as part of a lot purchase, for something that seems to have a “fan base”).

So no, I’m not going to waste yet more time when I don’t need to and my experience suggests it will be fruitless. His Furyo purchase is marginal – when I did a completed auction search I found that a vintage 100 ml bottle that was nearly full sold for about $57 total. Yes, if I really wanted a bottle of Furyo I’d pay $35, but how many “brick & mortar” shops would I have to visit before I found one at an acceptable price? That is something he is not taking into consideration. Apparently, he bought it not because he was seeking that specific scent but because he saw it there and figured it was an excellent deal. His visit to the store was something he would have done whether or not a Furyo bottle was present at that price.

And while I consider myself quite frugal, even I would not scour the nation’s non-online stores for a particular bottle; I’d rather pay a little more and not waste all that time. If the “rich are getting richer,” as statistics suggest, it is likely that prices on ebay reflect that economic trend, and if I was a billionaire I certainly would not think twice about paying a few hundred dollars for a bottle even if I might be able to get it for well under a hundred dollars if I did a little “bargain hunting.” The only way his notion makes some sense is if a person is seeking many vintage scents and is willing to pay more than one would pay on ebay if he or she did what I usually do, which is to wait for a great deal to “fall through the cracks.” Of course, if one lived near a store that had a great selection, then it would be worth visiting, but wouldn’t all aficionados agree? Thus, his argument is either too obvious or it is not realistic for most people.

Now as to Furyo, I have a sample and I decided to try it again before publishing this post. It is reminiscent of Kouros at first, then it reminds me more of Joint, and finally it seems more like Balenciaga Pour Homme! The odd thing is that it doesn’t have much dynamism, relative to those three, at least. Longevity is great and projection/sillage is at least very good (or good for a “powerhouse”), but the patchouli is a bit much for me for the first few hours. I think I’d rather wear the Balenciaga when I am in the mood for this kind of idea. That one has more of a focus on its sandalwood note rather than patchouli, so it’s entirely a personal preference issue. I think my sample of Furyo is vintage because it’s rich, deep, and natural-smelling. It gets more and more powdery over time but is never super-powdery, though another odd thing is that it has an almost fruity quality that gets stronger over time. Because it is animalic and “heavy,” this is for the aficionado crowd, not the fresh, sporty, party, or gourmand folk. Overall, the composition seems heavy-handed and lacking in focus (relative to those others in vintage formulation).

NOTE: One of the strangest things I’ve seen lately is a lot of two new 100 ml One Man Show bottles selling for $65 total. I think I bought an item or two from this seller and he has 3702 feedback, all positive (and almost all his sales seem to be fragrances, mostly vintage). This particular listing was for 17 lots of two bottles each, and he has already sold 15 (item #251515592939)! I’ve seen ‘vintage” OMS sell for a lot of money in the past but I wondered if these were “real” sales due to some peculiarities, but this listing is strong evidence that a “fan base” exists, considering that you can buy new 100 ml bottles for about $10 total. Another strange thing is that I had a bottle that looked like the ones pictured and it certainly didn’t seem vintage to me. The bottle I currently own does not have “Vol” on the front label, and I believe that is what indicates “vintage,” or at least what smells like a vintage scent to me, though of course I haven’t tried many different bottles of OMS.

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Filed under Criticizing the critics., The basics.

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