When the schneken beckons

I believe very whole-heartedly in the free sample. Sure when I was younger I would say, “Yes, sir. I would love a free sample!” And then I would trot away thinking, “SUCKER!”

But now, I am realizing their true value. In fact, I have recently even paid a few bucks for a perfume sample. Why? Because it’s cheaper than buying a bottle you find out you don’t like.

But perfume is not the only place I take my samples seriously. I sample beauty products, occasionally food (although I am vigilant about food safety, so it’s a special occasion when I partake.), gym memberships, test drives. If a sample is available and it’s a product your are interested in, take it! Key word: Interested. If the only thing you are interested in is free loot, then…well that’s your problem. In my mind, it’s unneeded clutter.

I’d like to introduce you to a few products that I have fallen in love with via sample, and have proceeded to purchase, or am about to do so. Anyone not particularly interested in beauty products still might want to take a peak at this post. Anyone can benefit from the free samples I’m about to recommend.

1. DHC Velvet Skin Coat Before I talk about velvet skin coat, a word on DHC. DHC is a Japanese skin care company that specializes in simple, straightforward, high-quality skin care products based heavily on using virgin olive oil. Their mission, as stated on the website: “Our mission at DHC is to help you feel beautiful in your own skin. We do this through beneficial products that combine the best of nature and science, dedicated service and education that encourages your commitment to your well-being.” They are a mail-order/web-based company and I’ve been thrilled with their service over the years. Each catalogue, whether you order or not, has generous samples attached.
Okay, onto Velvet Skin Coat. This is a fantastic summer time product for those of us who are…let us say overly moisturized in the t-zone area (another great product, DHC matte cream.) Velvet skin coat really keep the ol’ makeup on, and controls excess oil. It also makes for easier application, BUT non-makeup wearing menfolk can benefit too. It can be worn alone and helps keep you shine free. It also helps minimize the appearance of large pores.

2. Nordstrom. No, you can’t exactly take home a sample of Nordstrom, per se. But I highly recommend you sample the customer service at their 55 E. Grand location. Stellar. And, if you really want something to bring home as a souvenir, pop down to Fine Fragrances. They’ll help you out. Again, I say, men too! You need to sample your fragrance choice along with the rest of us, if you choose to wear fragrance. Don’t know? Ask yourself this: Am I more of a George Clooney or a Matt Lauer? (Either way, c’mon over. I’ll help you decide…heh heh.)

3. Good quality deli-counters (I prefer Strack and Vantil, but Dominick’s will do the same…if you’re the sort of person that pays full price. I’m not.) You taste before you purchase. Lovely lovely idea, isn’t it? Not sure if your deli does it? Just say the magic words: May I have a sample?

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Now, I don’t always insist that sample be free. Sure, it’s nice, and I prefer it. But the occasional well-priced sample can be worth the dollar or so. I’ve paid up to 5 for a high-end perfume sample. Over 5…it would seriously have to drive me to work or something. We’re talking millileters here. And I know some of you are gasping that I will pay that much but I figure it this way, if a certain perfume is considered by perfumers and perfume critics alike a “masterpiece,” I want to smell it. To me, it’s not different than a museum entrance fee. I want to smell artistic perfection. Do I always like it? Absolutely not. But I always enjoy it.
With that in mind:
4. I always visit my local Target or Wal-Mart’s travel and sample section. First of all, trying new stuff is fun. Secondly, while I hate to emphasize the fact, I can be seriously allergic to stuff if I’m not careful. Giving the old inner arm test to a bottle of lotion is never a bad idea.
5. If you are intrigued by perfume, I encourage you to visit website like The Perfumed Court, The Posh Peasant, and Serenity Street. Luckyscent, a niche perfume supplier, also provides samples either free with purchase or purchased individually at a minimal cost.

6. Other free samplin’ sites include Sephora, Ulta, Kiehls. Often you can select your samples.

Once you’ve started to rake in the samples, how do you manage them. Well, first of all, they are intended for use. These companies want you to try their product. So try it! If you really want to keep up the discounts and freebies, write back to the company stating your feelings on the sample. If you loved it, tell them! Tell them if you are going to purchase a full-size. This encourages companies to continue to offer free samples.
I believe very strongly in being your own quality control. While I’m not cheap (I’ll drop 300 on a dress and not look back), I refuse to pay for what I consider to be overpriced. This, for me, includes laundry detergent, hand soap, certain cleaning supplies, certain fashion accessories.
Now, you might initially balk at that assessment. But let me offer this, a quality rose absolut essential oil costs about $155.00 per ounce at Mountain Rose Herbs, one of my favorite purveyors of essential oils. Our common sense says, “JESUS CHRIST!” BUT with proper info, you realize that’s fairly reasonable considering it takes 60,000, yes 60,000 roses to produce 1 oz. of rose oil. Assuming the typical dozen roses runs you around 45 clams, that’s roughly a savings of $225,000. So well done there, you know? If you’re in the market for roses. If you’re not, well…don’t buy it.
So how can I be willing to drop $155.00 on a one ounce bottle of rose oil, but unwilling to drop 5 bucks on hand soap? Because I can make the handsoap myself for under 50 cents a pop. Well under. I have yet to install storage for 60,000 roses and a steam distillation plant. Best I let someone else do it.
Some people value HD tv and large flat screens. I’ll always be fine with whatever we’ve got as long as I can catch So You Think You Can Dance and view my netflix. The Godfather wasn’t meant to be viewed in HD anyway. Can you imagine what Luca’s face would look like? I shudder to think.

Anyway, the point is, we value what we value. And while most of us can’t go galumphing off, purchasing every last luxury good for that sense of “have”, we can often choose one or two that are both interesting and obtainable. For me, that is perfume. And the grail of grail, Christian Laboutin shoes. You can keep your I-phone. You can keep your leather jackets. Take the Bentleys and the Mercedes. I’d rather be boppin’ down the street on my own two pins smellin’ the way I like.

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