Smelly Stores Cause a Stink

The new Hollister store on Houston and Broadway seems to be pumping its fragrance outside its doors, and neighbors are pissed that it's stinking up the 'hood, the Post reports today. (One dissenter even allegedly set off a stink bomb outside the So-Cal wannabe-surfer palace in protest.) It's only fitting that Hollister has caused such a ruckus; it's part of the Abercrombie & Fitch franchise, whose stores are notorious for overpowering the olfactory nerves of anyone who walks within 200 yards of their front door. But this isn't the first time an NYC retailer has stunk up a street. In July, Diane von Furstenberg's store on West 14th Street reportedly offended passersby because its D Eau de Parfum scent wafted well beyond its doors.

The science of smell isn't exactly anything new. According to Harald Vogt of the Scent Marketing Institute, scores of new retailers jumped on the scent marketing bandwagon last year, a development he says is largely due to the struggling economy. Hey, we get it. Adopting an aggressive scent strategy to lure in recession-minded shoppers and boost sales makes perfect sense. Especially since it seems to work. According to C. Russell Brumfield, the author of Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age, "The science shows that specific scents can increase sales from 20 to over 90 percent in some studies."

In the past, some retailers, including Jimmy Choo, Lane Bryant, Hallmark, and Guess?, have created customized scents within their stores in the hopes they'll be imprinted in consumers' brains, make them feel positively thrilled with the experience, and keep them coming back to spend money. Certain crafty food establishments such as Cinnabon and Kentucky Fried Chicken are known to pump out smells to lure in customers. (So if you've got a particularly sensitive sniffer—and you're not looking to ruin your diet—it's probably best to steer clear of those sorts of establishments.)

Who knows what other stores are playing Jedi mind tricks with consumers with customized in- and out-of-store smells, but one place that could definitely use a scent overhaul? The BO-ridden NYC subway. Let's hope an enterprising perfume manufacturer reaches out to the cash-strapped (and clearly desperate) MTA and makes a deal pronto.

Locals raise stink [NYP]

— Molly Fahner