I just got back this afternoon from an overnight trip to Atlanta. I went to Will Call for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! It's a monthly event where they have tons of blends to try and/or buy. They normally do only mail order (excepting a handful of blends that are sold in a few stores, including some Whole Foods). So this is the only opportunity to try out the product before buying. I think they call it Will Call because at the LA one, people email in advance to place their orders.
They have two each month: one in LA at their main location, and one at the Alpharetta Whole Foods in Atlanta. And I went to the one in Atlanta! I drove down yesterday, arrived at the Whole Foods at 2:45, had a quick lunch from the hot bar and then spent about 90 minutes at Will Call. It was kind of overwhelming! There were 3 tables with samples of the blends that were sale: a bunch of general catalog, especially new ones like the new Mad Tea Party, Steamworks, Doc Constantine's Pharmacopeia, Marchen ... none of the Neil Gaiman scents now that I think about it. And all the summer and Halloween limited editions. Then there was a long table with the newest LEs and some prototypes that aren't out yet. Those were to try only, not to buy.
Then another table had related supplies: empty bottles in various sizes, rollerball bottles, spritzer bottles, disposable eyedroppers, things like that. And a row of chairs along one wall. I think they were just there to be out of the way, the space is normally a cooking school inside Whole Foods, and it was great to have a place to sit down for a minute.
There was also a long table with snacks from the store -- bottled water, sodas, chips, fruit and cookies, and a birthday cake! Last week was the first birthday the BPAL owner/designer's little girl, Lilith. There were 3 LE blends in Lilith's honor, one of which smells like cake, so the Atlanta hosts provided birthday cake. I didn't have cake, though it looked good. I hadn't eaten all day & then wolfed down lunch while I was waiting for will call to open at 3. The thought of tossing a big rich slice of cake on top of that seemed like a bad idea. I did greatly appreciate being able to sit down and snack on some fruit & chips & salsa when I needed a break to clear my nose.
All told I tried about 20 blends. I'm not sure exactly, despite my best efforts I lost count at the end! I had a system: before leaving home I had typed my wish list into my phone. As I was testing, I typed in a number next to each name. 1-5 was the top of the left arm; 6-10 was the top of the right arm; then 11-20 were the insides of the arms.
Things I did wrong: first, I put the samples way too close together on my arms. It became really difficult to distinguish each one. I think I could have more comfortably done 5 on each arm if I had spaced them out better.
Second, I didn't give each blend enough time to test the drydown stage before buying, Sure enough, after I left the store one of the LEs I had bought went bad on me. Luckily the bottle was unopened and I was able to go back and exchange it. Will Call lasts for hours. Next time I'll go early, try everything that interests me, then leave. Let them dry down and then go back to buy the ones I want.
Speaking of buying, the pricing is pretty good. Everything was $17.99. (Direct from the Lab, the general catalog are $15 and the limited editions are $17.50.) They gave a 10% discount off the order. Sales tax in Georgia is not high, so if you bought mainly LE, it ended up cheaper than buying from the Lab. Except for the cost of the trip of course.
I stayed last night at a Sierra Hotel. It was a decent hotel: free wireless, nice couch and kitchenette in the room, decent breakfast the next morning, and a good rate. Alpharetta seems to be a business area like RTP, with lots of hotels that have much cheaper rates on weekends. My only gripe was I couldn't find the channel that says what's on the other channels. I found TCM which wasn't showing anything I wanted to see. Ended up idly websurfing and watching a marathon of Law & Order SVU. I don't watch many TV dramas and had never seen this one before. It really works overtime to satisfy one's prurient interests. In one episode Miranda from Sex & the City played a woman with DID who's a danger to a baby. That was the basic premise and then it got really complicated.
Left at 8:30 this morning, stopped at the Charlotte Ikea on the way, and was home about 3:15. Kind of a crazy couple of days! It was nice, though, to do something a little impulsive just for myself.
Because this post is long enough already, I'm putting the reviews behind a cut.