I’ve been ambivalent about Bond No. 9, the niche fragrance brand, for a few years now. On the one hand, I love New Haarlem, a rich coffee and amber scent, and my wife wears Chinatown, their woody, fruity floral. But I’ve had very bad service from their Bond Street flagship store on two occasions. So bad that I had no interest in going back. In each case, the sales person was creepy, rude, and dismissive.
Figuring one of their outposts may be different from the flagship, my wife and I stopped into the Bond No. 9 shop in the Meatpacking District. It was very different.
Luis, one of two sales people in the small shop, was the perfect salesman: not pushy, patient, knowledgeable, chatty but not annoying, and charming. He took us through some new fragrances (the light and summery Sag Harbor, $240 for 100ml) and recommended others (like New York Oud, $310 for 100ml, and Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York, a “warm and spicy gourmand,” $230 for 100ml) based on our favorites from the collection. He showed us Bond’s new lower priced I Love NY collection ($175 for 100ml—this is “lower priced” at Bond). And finally, he loaded us up with samples of everything we smelled.
It was a reminder of how much impact a good—or bad—sales person has on one’s perception of a brand. We consumers can be awfully fickle. Like it or not, the staff at fragrance boutiques and department stores can be seen as personifications of the brands. If they make a connection with us, we’ll find ourselves trying to rationalize bigger purchases. If they offend us, we may be gone for years—as I was with Bond. Luis is a welcome reminder that two bad salesmen are not the brand.