Friday, June 10, 2016

Of Stores and Scents

Sometimes you walk into a store and you're hit by some specific smell that might make you feel, even after a few moments,  quite unwell. It happened to me once while in a Home Center store (the red sign in the above picture is in hebrew).

Home Center ( as well as other home chains, like Ace)  sell , among other things, wall/ wood paints. Even though the cans of paint are tightly sealed, still there's some  paint odor in the air. I don't really know why. 

paint cans

Well, a few minutes in that aisle and I felt as if I was about to faint. I left the store quickly, sat outside on a bench, and took some deep breaths for 5-6 minutes until I felt better. I didn't re-enter the store; it was a small  branch of Home Center located within an urban mall.
(Big chains and supermarkets usually have spacious, well air- conditioned stores on the outskirts of the town;  smaller, crowded branches in the center of the town).

paint stuff

In the above case , the smell was closely associated with certain merchandise sold in the store.

In other cases ( fashion stores ,book stores etc..) it is the owner that wants a "signature" scent in his shop: citrus, musk, cinnamon, wood,  you name it...and he'll diffuse the fragrance through air conditioning vents or some other method.

In the majority of cases, the retailers who have discovered what is known as the fifth sense (smell) use it as a marketing tool to lure in customers, just as they use background music and various smart displays of goods. . That's OK, but  the problem is that "one man's aroma is another man's stench" and it could drive customers away.

Anyhow, people who think they are sensitive to smells, might, whenever possible, prefer entering bigger, well ventilated places to smaller, scented places.


  1. Contrary to you, I love the smells when I enter any shop - it could be paint, perfume or simply food. Smells seem to always speak to me and I gladly heed.

    But I do dislike the smell of garbage and sewers.

    Hope you are well and happy, dear DUTA.

    Love from Goa.

    Joy always,

  2. Susan Deborah,

    It's not that I don't love, more likely it doesn't love me. And that's something relatively new. In the past, I even enjoyed painting walls and wooden items at home. Well, we change over the years.

  3. This is a very good observation. For two years I suffered from daily migraines and certain smells made them worse, so I couldn't visit certain shops. Now I find I can go in, tolerate the place for a few moments and then I have leave quickly if I feel a headache or sick to the stomach. I love how certain places carry a signature scent, but I hate that I can't enjoy it! Hope you're feeling better.

  4. I agree with you Duta. I stay in the truck when my husband goes into Princess Auto. I hate the smell o tires and such. Also Home Depot sometimes makes me ill. Also, thanks for your kind comments regarding my husband's accident. We are very lucky it wasn't worse.

  5. Tanya Lynne Reimer,

    Thank you. Well, we have to listen to our body and pay attention to how it reacts to certain things in our environment: smells, noise, colors etc... Ignoring certain reactions could cause us some unpleasant surprises.

  6. Hi Delena,

    We women are somehow sensitive to the smell of tires and other automotive components. Hopefully, your husband will soon recover from his accident and be the one who takes care of car parts.

  7. I think my sense of smell has diminished with age - I have difficulty smelling my perfume - but any noxious smell is instantly right there in my nostrils. Alas!

  8. Pat,

    Indeed, age may have something to do with it. As we age we become more sensitive to some or all smells. Let's hope we'll go on liking the smells of our usual food and of everything we are accustomed to.

  9. Good points Duta. Some smells can really knock you out and some, entice me to shop more. Definitely not those in a hardware or auto store. Even our hospitals now have perfume bans as some people are terribly allergic. Happy Week Duta. HOpe it's a good one for you.

  10. Nikki (Sarah),

    I'm totally with you about the knocking out and the enticing. I didn't know about perfume bans in hospitals - it makes sense. Happy week to you too!

  11. Great topic! I know that a long time ago I worked in a small town department store and the owner had a small popcorn machine in the front. Every few hours he would have us make fresh popcorn as he wanted customers to always associate the smell of popcorn with our store and to this day I can remember that lovely smell and how much I loved both working at and visiting that store.

    I know many of the major restaurants and stores use some type of ventilation system to spread the scent of baking bread or frying foods into the air both inside and outside the store to draw customers and I'm sure that it works as it works on me!

    But there is nothing worse than the scent of food when you are no longer hungry, then it's just annoying. Case in point. My sister and I love eating chicken fajitas in Mexican restaurants. They bring the fajitas to your table served on a sizzling iron skillet with the smoke wafting through the air and that beautiful scent. Your mouth waters and other customers see and smell that wonderful dish and are inclined to order it as well. But after you are done eating and you leave, that scent lingers in your clothes and hair and it's nauseating!

    I don't know what made you sick in that store but it probably happened to other people. I know I have a very good nose for smells and can often smell rotting food or smoke before other people. Glad you made it out and sorry that it made you unwell! Great post as always!

  12. This could happen if its a dinghy place with no proper ventilation.
    Agree on one thing though - some unpleasant smells linger on for a long time.

  13. Hi Haddock,

    Indeed, but when you enter a store you assume ventilation system is according to regulations; you just start to look at the items on the shelves to pick up what you've come for.

    Maybe on that particular day something was not so OK with me, and the paint odor was the trigger. Who knows. Anyway, it was an unpleasant incident.

  14. Alicia,

    Food smells are highly addictive: smells of fresh bread, popcorn, chicken fajitas,you name it. I do agree with you that when you're not hungry, the smell might become annoying.
    Anyway, food smells is a subject in its own - it's vast and rather complex.I think you're the right person to write a post on this topic, someday.

    Thanks for your nice, detailed comment.

  15. I agree with you, a smell could be a stench to someone else! Some do irritate me but most are fine. Yes they use them to sell us things, entice

  16. My ex husband was a mechanic. I can't stand the smell of engine grease, tires and other things associated with automotive garage

  17. Kim Standard,

    Luckily for us, most smells/scents we encounter, are bearable and even pleasant to enjoyable.

  18. Linda O'Connell,

    I can well imagine that. The car garage smells are hard to get rid of even after a deep scrub.

  19. Scents can be a problem, can't they? I had lots of kids with allergies in my classrooms. I'm so sorry you felt ill. Since I work with hospice clients, I never wear any any more!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  20. Jennifer A.Jilks,

    It would appear you're used to tough jobs: teaching kids, helping hospice patients.
    One can,indeed, see clearly that scents could pose a problem when one works with kids/people with allergies or chronic diseases.

  21. Great topic. I associate places I've travel by how they smell when I got off the plane. It conjures up emotions and memories. I read somewhere people have actually noticed a certain perfume of a person that had passed on around them. I think, that would be comforting.

  22. Ugh!!! Sensory assaults is never fun!

    My hairdresser says she never wears perfume, because some clients like it, and some do NOT. She prefers to remain neutral rather than offend, which I think is smart.

    There is a gas station near my neighborhood that I absolutely cannot STAND. Every single time I have gone in to pay, it SMELLS LIKE BARF. Just horrible. I refuse to go in there unless I absolutely have to. HURL! It is so gross.

  23. Angelina Pratt,

    To assciate a place with a certain smell- that's a skill I don't have. I think it involves memory. Just as there's visual memory, there's probably also memory that makes us remember smells.

  24. Jane Droll,

    "sensory assault" - I like the phrase.
    Your hairdresser is right; staying neutral, scent-free, is client-wise.
    You're right too about the gas station in your neighborhood. No need to inhale the horrible smell unless you're in some kind of emergency.

  25. So sorry you had this experience. I know someone who is very sensitive to smells, and it makes him upset when he's around too strong of scents. Yes, it's nice when stores have a center air system to help drown out the smells.


  26. Red Rose Alley,

    Thanks. It was a one-time experience, but it had great impact on me. Since then, I've become more aware of smells and fragrances, and more selective about the stores I enter.

  27. The Mall of America is the worst as far as smells. It's toxic. The way they waft them out of stores on purpose. They give me headaches.

  28. Sharon Wagner,

    Really?! It is the largest mall in America, maybe in the world, and as such also a top touristic attraction. So, this doesn't go well with ..toxic smells.

  29. Ick! I can't say I've ever been in a store that had a bad smell...I'd leave if so. I have gotten a bad visual impression when entering stores like Big Lots and even Walmart. I prefer to stick with bright, open, attractive stores rather than dingy, dirty warehouse-type places. Best smell? Kirkland's. That place always smells beautiful!

  30. Stephanie Paris,

    I'm glad to learn about your positive opinion on Kirkland. Sometimes I go to a supermarket that has an import contract with them. The items imported from Kirkland seem OK to me.

  31. I've experienced this too. I entered a gift shop once and was overwhelmed by some king of potpourri. I've entered other sores with aromas that made me want to move in.

  32. I know just how you felt. I was at a Walmart and it was the holidays and I bought a bag of pine cones. Took them home opened the bag and the smell of cinnamon overwhelmed me and the entire house. Had to toss them. They
    had to soak then for months to reak of the spice.

  33. Too bad about your experience at the store, and you are right on spot, Duta! The Target store near us has an obnoxious odor at the entrance and I avoid going there. I sneeze every time I walk into the grocery store, have no idea what causes that. And then some other stores have a great scent. As you say, "one man's aroma is another man's stench!" Happy shopping!

  34. Rick Watson,

    I suppose most people have this double experience: places they wish to live because of bad scent , places they wish to move in because of a highly pleasant scent.

  35. La Petite Gallery,

    That's a very frustrating experience!

  36. Pam,

    I've come upon a new word 'scentsitive'. Well, we should avoid places that arouse our 'scentsitivity'.