Tickling the nose of a whole new generation of fragrance lovers

News Jun 20, 2017 by Pauline Finch Kitchener Post

It seemed the unlikeliest spot for a late spring pop-up boutique.

As customers selected their groceries from displays of heritage vegetables, organic meat and cheese, and other local delicacies at Legacy Greens — a downtown Kitchener pop-up that has become a welcome fixture — their curiosity was captured by a table filled with original pre-war postcards and an intriguing array of vintage perfumes and colognes. Some even came in tiny glass sampler bottles that haven’t been manufactured for more than half a century.

What looked like an array of museum artifacts, however, was all for sale: a tiny part of some 10,000 or more items found at Fritsch Fragrances, just a couple of blocks away at 201 King St. W., across from city hall. Michael Fritsch, now in his 80s and revealing no intention to retire, has been in business there since 1959 — first as a pharmacist and then from 1988 as a purveyor of high-end European perfume brands.

Grandson Robert Nyman and wife Karleigh, along with Heather Albrecht (one of Michael’s three daughters who now acts as his executive assistant) enthusiastically took on the Legacy Greens pop-up as an ideal face-to-face opportunity to reacquaint people with the all-but-lost art of wearing and appreciating fine scents.

For some time, they’ve also been featuring select items online at https://fritschfragrances.shopzest.com/ to build profile in the growing international community of vintage perfume and cologne aficionados. These discerning collectors are not only passionate about acquiring the actual scents, but also the unique packaging they often came in, and even display items advertising them.

Both Robert and Heather are excited over how much interest this modest retail update has generated, even though the site emphasizes: “Many of our vintage fragrances are being purchased by collectors for display purposes and not for personal use as a fragrance. Please be aware that our vintage fragrance bottles may not be full and the contents may no longer be wearable.”

Despite the necessary caution informing buyers about what to expect, Heather noted that the majority of old-stock fragrances, like good wine, age extremely well despite slight colour changes and evaporation. “The first time you open the seal, there might be a slightly off-smell that dissipates very quickly,” she explained. “People are actually amazed at how pristine the product is.”

In the quiet, sweet-smelling store that her nephew Robert aptly calls “a time machine,” Michael Fritsch was only too happy to explain why he loves presiding over rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with stock that’s mostly 40-70 years old, including a few cosmetics once made right here in the region. Although only a handful of people might walk in during a given week, he is always ready to explain the basics of choosing an appropriate personal fragrance, or help them select gifts from a small assortment of current products brought in for Christmas and other key retail seasons.

Not surprisingly for someone who has seen much change in the retail world, he feels “there just isn’t the quality anymore … They keep the same name on the product, but some companies change the ingredients, either because they can’t get natural ones anymore, or the chemical versions are cheaper … People will tell me the new bottle they bought doesn’t smell the way they remember it.”

When Michael first began sourcing and selling fragrances, big-name fashion designers such as Coco Chanel “would work only with the best perfumers until they got just what they wanted … Today, pop stars can put their names on anything, but I don’t sell that stuff.”

As passionate as he is about his decades of experience selling fragrance, Michael actually discovered it as a second career.

Growing up on Young Street in Kitchener during the 1940s, he was befriended by a neighbour who happened to be a local druggist. Having no children of his own, he offered 11-year-old Michael part-time work as a delivery boy. “Pretty soon I got very interested in what he did … I picked up things here and there.”

The job lasted him right through high school.

When it came time to settle on his own career, Michael followed in his employer’s footsteps. He attended the University of Toronto College of Pharmacy and after graduation returned to work for the same man. When he died in 1959, Michael bought the business and operated it as Fritsch Pharmacy for nearly three decades.

While still a pharmacist, he began carrying a select few fragrances, but had difficulty attracting interest from major North American brands who “wouldn’t sell to me because I was too small.” He instead turned to high-end designer labels from Europe, especially France, importing small quantities and building a wide reputation for having items no one else could offer.

As with many other local pharmacies, he gradually expanded into convenience and household products not directly related to the dispensing of medicine. But when regulations changed to require that pharmacy departments within stores be closed off within certain hours, he decided to stop filling prescriptions entirely and follow his passion for perfume. He sold the dispensary side of the business to another local pharmacist, changed the name to Fritsch Fragrances, redecorated, and brought in an expanded range of fragrance and fragrance-based products.

The 1988 look of the place is now the 2017 look and Fritsch is content to “take my time” and let “good products sell themselves.” Fortunately, he has the luxury of doing so, for as an astute businessman in his younger years, he bought the building and the prime property it stands on. However, he’s also quick to point out that having skilled help from two generations of his immediate family has been invaluable. “I’m no good at all that Internet and social media stuff, or doing all the paperwork you have to do these days,” he said. “Robert and Heather really help me keep things going.”

Robert, who works in administration with the Southern Ontario Water Consortium based at University of Waterloo, says it took time, but his grandfather’s devotion to fine fragrances finally got to him. “I hardly ever used to wear scent at all but he’s taught me so much … Now I do wear it once in a while and I’m beginning to understand how these vintage scents can be almost addictive.”

What he appreciates most, however, is the local history that his grandfather’s business has represented, first over nearly three decades as Fritsch Pharmacy and then for three more as Fritsch Fragrances: “It’s so nice to know there’s a store downtown with your family’s name on it; that means a lot to me.”

As for the immediate future, it seems that Michael Fritsch’s special place at 201 King St. W. is gradually transitioning from a fragrance museum to a fragrance mecca. It’s 2017 and perfume is cool again.

Tickling the nose of a whole new generation of fragrance lovers

News Jun 20, 2017 by Pauline Finch Kitchener Post

It seemed the unlikeliest spot for a late spring pop-up boutique.

As customers selected their groceries from displays of heritage vegetables, organic meat and cheese, and other local delicacies at Legacy Greens — a downtown Kitchener pop-up that has become a welcome fixture — their curiosity was captured by a table filled with original pre-war postcards and an intriguing array of vintage perfumes and colognes. Some even came in tiny glass sampler bottles that haven’t been manufactured for more than half a century.

What looked like an array of museum artifacts, however, was all for sale: a tiny part of some 10,000 or more items found at Fritsch Fragrances, just a couple of blocks away at 201 King St. W., across from city hall. Michael Fritsch, now in his 80s and revealing no intention to retire, has been in business there since 1959 — first as a pharmacist and then from 1988 as a purveyor of high-end European perfume brands.

Grandson Robert Nyman and wife Karleigh, along with Heather Albrecht (one of Michael’s three daughters who now acts as his executive assistant) enthusiastically took on the Legacy Greens pop-up as an ideal face-to-face opportunity to reacquaint people with the all-but-lost art of wearing and appreciating fine scents.

For some time, they’ve also been featuring select items online at https://fritschfragrances.shopzest.com/ to build profile in the growing international community of vintage perfume and cologne aficionados. These discerning collectors are not only passionate about acquiring the actual scents, but also the unique packaging they often came in, and even display items advertising them.

Both Robert and Heather are excited over how much interest this modest retail update has generated, even though the site emphasizes: “Many of our vintage fragrances are being purchased by collectors for display purposes and not for personal use as a fragrance. Please be aware that our vintage fragrance bottles may not be full and the contents may no longer be wearable.”

Despite the necessary caution informing buyers about what to expect, Heather noted that the majority of old-stock fragrances, like good wine, age extremely well despite slight colour changes and evaporation. “The first time you open the seal, there might be a slightly off-smell that dissipates very quickly,” she explained. “People are actually amazed at how pristine the product is.”

In the quiet, sweet-smelling store that her nephew Robert aptly calls “a time machine,” Michael Fritsch was only too happy to explain why he loves presiding over rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with stock that’s mostly 40-70 years old, including a few cosmetics once made right here in the region. Although only a handful of people might walk in during a given week, he is always ready to explain the basics of choosing an appropriate personal fragrance, or help them select gifts from a small assortment of current products brought in for Christmas and other key retail seasons.

Not surprisingly for someone who has seen much change in the retail world, he feels “there just isn’t the quality anymore … They keep the same name on the product, but some companies change the ingredients, either because they can’t get natural ones anymore, or the chemical versions are cheaper … People will tell me the new bottle they bought doesn’t smell the way they remember it.”

When Michael first began sourcing and selling fragrances, big-name fashion designers such as Coco Chanel “would work only with the best perfumers until they got just what they wanted … Today, pop stars can put their names on anything, but I don’t sell that stuff.”

As passionate as he is about his decades of experience selling fragrance, Michael actually discovered it as a second career.

Growing up on Young Street in Kitchener during the 1940s, he was befriended by a neighbour who happened to be a local druggist. Having no children of his own, he offered 11-year-old Michael part-time work as a delivery boy. “Pretty soon I got very interested in what he did … I picked up things here and there.”

The job lasted him right through high school.

When it came time to settle on his own career, Michael followed in his employer’s footsteps. He attended the University of Toronto College of Pharmacy and after graduation returned to work for the same man. When he died in 1959, Michael bought the business and operated it as Fritsch Pharmacy for nearly three decades.

While still a pharmacist, he began carrying a select few fragrances, but had difficulty attracting interest from major North American brands who “wouldn’t sell to me because I was too small.” He instead turned to high-end designer labels from Europe, especially France, importing small quantities and building a wide reputation for having items no one else could offer.

As with many other local pharmacies, he gradually expanded into convenience and household products not directly related to the dispensing of medicine. But when regulations changed to require that pharmacy departments within stores be closed off within certain hours, he decided to stop filling prescriptions entirely and follow his passion for perfume. He sold the dispensary side of the business to another local pharmacist, changed the name to Fritsch Fragrances, redecorated, and brought in an expanded range of fragrance and fragrance-based products.

The 1988 look of the place is now the 2017 look and Fritsch is content to “take my time” and let “good products sell themselves.” Fortunately, he has the luxury of doing so, for as an astute businessman in his younger years, he bought the building and the prime property it stands on. However, he’s also quick to point out that having skilled help from two generations of his immediate family has been invaluable. “I’m no good at all that Internet and social media stuff, or doing all the paperwork you have to do these days,” he said. “Robert and Heather really help me keep things going.”

Robert, who works in administration with the Southern Ontario Water Consortium based at University of Waterloo, says it took time, but his grandfather’s devotion to fine fragrances finally got to him. “I hardly ever used to wear scent at all but he’s taught me so much … Now I do wear it once in a while and I’m beginning to understand how these vintage scents can be almost addictive.”

What he appreciates most, however, is the local history that his grandfather’s business has represented, first over nearly three decades as Fritsch Pharmacy and then for three more as Fritsch Fragrances: “It’s so nice to know there’s a store downtown with your family’s name on it; that means a lot to me.”

As for the immediate future, it seems that Michael Fritsch’s special place at 201 King St. W. is gradually transitioning from a fragrance museum to a fragrance mecca. It’s 2017 and perfume is cool again.

Tickling the nose of a whole new generation of fragrance lovers

News Jun 20, 2017 by Pauline Finch Kitchener Post

It seemed the unlikeliest spot for a late spring pop-up boutique.

As customers selected their groceries from displays of heritage vegetables, organic meat and cheese, and other local delicacies at Legacy Greens — a downtown Kitchener pop-up that has become a welcome fixture — their curiosity was captured by a table filled with original pre-war postcards and an intriguing array of vintage perfumes and colognes. Some even came in tiny glass sampler bottles that haven’t been manufactured for more than half a century.

What looked like an array of museum artifacts, however, was all for sale: a tiny part of some 10,000 or more items found at Fritsch Fragrances, just a couple of blocks away at 201 King St. W., across from city hall. Michael Fritsch, now in his 80s and revealing no intention to retire, has been in business there since 1959 — first as a pharmacist and then from 1988 as a purveyor of high-end European perfume brands.

Grandson Robert Nyman and wife Karleigh, along with Heather Albrecht (one of Michael’s three daughters who now acts as his executive assistant) enthusiastically took on the Legacy Greens pop-up as an ideal face-to-face opportunity to reacquaint people with the all-but-lost art of wearing and appreciating fine scents.

For some time, they’ve also been featuring select items online at https://fritschfragrances.shopzest.com/ to build profile in the growing international community of vintage perfume and cologne aficionados. These discerning collectors are not only passionate about acquiring the actual scents, but also the unique packaging they often came in, and even display items advertising them.

Both Robert and Heather are excited over how much interest this modest retail update has generated, even though the site emphasizes: “Many of our vintage fragrances are being purchased by collectors for display purposes and not for personal use as a fragrance. Please be aware that our vintage fragrance bottles may not be full and the contents may no longer be wearable.”

Despite the necessary caution informing buyers about what to expect, Heather noted that the majority of old-stock fragrances, like good wine, age extremely well despite slight colour changes and evaporation. “The first time you open the seal, there might be a slightly off-smell that dissipates very quickly,” she explained. “People are actually amazed at how pristine the product is.”

In the quiet, sweet-smelling store that her nephew Robert aptly calls “a time machine,” Michael Fritsch was only too happy to explain why he loves presiding over rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with stock that’s mostly 40-70 years old, including a few cosmetics once made right here in the region. Although only a handful of people might walk in during a given week, he is always ready to explain the basics of choosing an appropriate personal fragrance, or help them select gifts from a small assortment of current products brought in for Christmas and other key retail seasons.

Not surprisingly for someone who has seen much change in the retail world, he feels “there just isn’t the quality anymore … They keep the same name on the product, but some companies change the ingredients, either because they can’t get natural ones anymore, or the chemical versions are cheaper … People will tell me the new bottle they bought doesn’t smell the way they remember it.”

When Michael first began sourcing and selling fragrances, big-name fashion designers such as Coco Chanel “would work only with the best perfumers until they got just what they wanted … Today, pop stars can put their names on anything, but I don’t sell that stuff.”

As passionate as he is about his decades of experience selling fragrance, Michael actually discovered it as a second career.

Growing up on Young Street in Kitchener during the 1940s, he was befriended by a neighbour who happened to be a local druggist. Having no children of his own, he offered 11-year-old Michael part-time work as a delivery boy. “Pretty soon I got very interested in what he did … I picked up things here and there.”

The job lasted him right through high school.

When it came time to settle on his own career, Michael followed in his employer’s footsteps. He attended the University of Toronto College of Pharmacy and after graduation returned to work for the same man. When he died in 1959, Michael bought the business and operated it as Fritsch Pharmacy for nearly three decades.

While still a pharmacist, he began carrying a select few fragrances, but had difficulty attracting interest from major North American brands who “wouldn’t sell to me because I was too small.” He instead turned to high-end designer labels from Europe, especially France, importing small quantities and building a wide reputation for having items no one else could offer.

As with many other local pharmacies, he gradually expanded into convenience and household products not directly related to the dispensing of medicine. But when regulations changed to require that pharmacy departments within stores be closed off within certain hours, he decided to stop filling prescriptions entirely and follow his passion for perfume. He sold the dispensary side of the business to another local pharmacist, changed the name to Fritsch Fragrances, redecorated, and brought in an expanded range of fragrance and fragrance-based products.

The 1988 look of the place is now the 2017 look and Fritsch is content to “take my time” and let “good products sell themselves.” Fortunately, he has the luxury of doing so, for as an astute businessman in his younger years, he bought the building and the prime property it stands on. However, he’s also quick to point out that having skilled help from two generations of his immediate family has been invaluable. “I’m no good at all that Internet and social media stuff, or doing all the paperwork you have to do these days,” he said. “Robert and Heather really help me keep things going.”

Robert, who works in administration with the Southern Ontario Water Consortium based at University of Waterloo, says it took time, but his grandfather’s devotion to fine fragrances finally got to him. “I hardly ever used to wear scent at all but he’s taught me so much … Now I do wear it once in a while and I’m beginning to understand how these vintage scents can be almost addictive.”

What he appreciates most, however, is the local history that his grandfather’s business has represented, first over nearly three decades as Fritsch Pharmacy and then for three more as Fritsch Fragrances: “It’s so nice to know there’s a store downtown with your family’s name on it; that means a lot to me.”

As for the immediate future, it seems that Michael Fritsch’s special place at 201 King St. W. is gradually transitioning from a fragrance museum to a fragrance mecca. It’s 2017 and perfume is cool again.