When my perfume obsession settled in for the long haul, I realized that I needed an action plan; I have no desire to be featured on an episode of Hoarders. I do group splits, which are awesome, but they still cost money. Swaps, on the other hand, cost only the shipping fee… and of course, the risk of swapping with a jerk.
The premise is this: I have something you want, you have something I want. We send each other these things. A swap! Some people get rid of bottles that they don’t want (which I have done), and really anything can be swapped. I’ve even seen DVDs listed. I like to swap decants for other decants. I’m using up giant bottles that I’d never finish alone (how do I know this? I defer to Kevin’s expertise.) while acquiring things I want, but don’t want to buy. I’m also pretty big on value-for-value swaps (approximately equal).
All those full bottles in my cabinet have been magically transformed into currency—a currency that doesn’t fluctuate much, and in fact, in some cases at least, grows in value. That vintage Shalimar parfum? Oh, that’s gold. This currency has allowed me to continue expanding my collection without giving up too much space. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that 5mL or 10mL is more than enough of almost anything. And when you have over a hundred choices each morning, those little bottles last a long time.
Swapping does require a little finesse. There will always be people that want something for nothing, and treat you like a jerk when you’re unwilling to donate your vintage L’Heure Bleue to their greedy cause. I was once solicited by someone who literally had nothing to swap with. Nothing. Zero. Here’s an excerpt from our communication:
Her: I’m interested! plmk if we can swap!
Me: Hi there! Both of these items are in my personal collection, I’m just offering decants of each (I’m not sure if you saw that).
Do you have any fragrances from your personal collection that you’d like to do the same with?
Her: I wish I could….thanks anyway I’ll have to bow out for now. Cheers!
Me: No problem! I hope we can swap sometime in the future : )
In her defense, she was wonderfully sweet (what you see here is not the entire correspondence), and I would be delighted to swap with such a lovely person. If she had something to swap.
I’ve been lucky so far. Only one lost package; I now use delivery confirmation for everything. I’ve “met” two famous perfumistas (an LA Times writer, and an NST contributor), “met” some really wonderful internationals, and just about doubled my collection. As of today, I have on the way:
Guerlain – Spiritueuse Double Vanille
Hermes – Hermessence Vanille Galante
Fendi – Fendi Theorema
Chanel – 28 La Pausa
Montale – White Aoud
Parfumerie Generale – Felanilla
… and more. No money exchanged. If you know about perfume, you know that the above list would set me back at least $600 if I was in the bottle market.
Swapping is a beautiful thing.