Those Fragrances at Drugstores and Walmart

More often than not, I come by someone who’s just returned from a trip from the Drugstore, Walmart, Superstore or some other similar department/grocery/drug merchant wondering if the perfumes they found there are authentic. In short, yes, they are authentic. I can pretty much say that most big chain stores such as Walmart, Superstore,  CVS, and etc. are selling legitimate and authentic fragrances. But, since I like Q&As and lists, let’s approach this in a more orderly fashion.

Are these perfumes I see in drugstores and grocery stores authentic and legitimate?
Yes. If you are finding these perfumes in large, chain grocery and drugstores they are usually authentic and legitimate. You likely won’t find anything super niche like Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle at your local Walmart but most mainstream fragrance houses do have a presence in drug and grocery stores. I’ve seen the usual brands like Calvin Klein, Christian Audigier, and Donna Karan. I’ve also seen higher end fashion house brands such as Dolce and Gabanna, Gucci, and Burberry. Once in a while I’ll also see Guerlain and even Chanel. So yes, chances are, they are authentic. I would be leery if a small, hole-in-the-wall, mom and pop grocery store was selling Chanel perfume, but you never know these days. The best practice has always been to educate yourself on how to tell a counterfeit.

Why is it a bit cheaper to buy the same perfume at Walmart compared to a store like Neiman Marcus?
There’s a bit of ribbing going on when it comes to Neiman Marcus. Some people call it “Needless Markup” because not only does perfume seem to cost more there, but so does everything else.
Now I’m no department store analyst or whatever you would call a person who sits down and stresses over these things, but the nearest I can presume is you can get perfume cheaper at Walmart because of the lower level of service.
Say you walk into a Walmart one day hoping to find a perfume. Chances are, there are some testers sitting around that look a little grungy and used. Or, at best you have to call someone over to unlock the forbidden cabinet of perfume mystery. If you manage to scrounge up some tester strips you can spray and smell while the Walmart greeter glances at you nervously until you find the fragrance you like. Then you head to the checkout line whereupon they herd you into a system that makes you feel a bit like cattle.
If you were to walk into Neiman Marcus, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how overdecorated it seems. When you approach the fragrance section, chances are a sales associate will offer you help on whatever you might want. They’ll usually stay with you or at least give you some attention and offer their opinions on what you might like depending on what you tell them. Whether you agree or not with this advice is entirely up to you. Regardless, if you do happen to make a purchase, the same sales associate will likely ring you up, pack your purchase into a lovely little gift bag and when you leave the store, “made me feel like cattle” should be a distant echo.
Now my experiences with the two stores is likely going to vary person-to-person and location-to-location. But it is generally agreed that you would get a higher standard of personal service at Neiman Marcus than you would get at Walmart.

Is the stock at Walmart older compared to the stock at a store like Neiman Marcus?
This tends to vary for me. Walmart and other non-fancy department stores like it sometimes have fresh product and sometimes have product that’s been sitting on the shelves for a while. I’ve had one experience buying an old bottle from a high-end department store so it’s not unheard of if you pay the premium price. I suppose it all depends on that particular store’s management and stock shipping frequency. Add to this confusion the fact that you can’t tell how old a bottle of perfume is most of the time unless an expiration date is present, the perfume has been redesigned, or the perfume has clearly gone bad or started to go bad. So ultimately, if the fragrance you bought still smells like it should, and it was stored properly and you continue to store it properly, does it really matter how long it’s been sitting on the shelf?

Hopefully this post helps settle the fears of the fragrances you see sold at Walmart. Bottom line, if you don’t care about the bells and whistles of extra service, buying your perfume at Walmart is perfectly fine. If you want the pretty gift bag then head for Neiman Marcus. I still advise anyone to make sure they know how to tell a counterfeit because those can pop up anywhere.