I promised dpfesh
that I'd post my LUSH lessons learned; they mostly deal with the non-obvious pitfalls in giving them money.
Without further ado:
- Figuring out the best place to buy from is not obvious. The three main choices for US people are:
- NA mail order
- Pros: moderate overhead (reasonable shipping, no sales tax), usual benefits of online shopping (open 24/7, no sales people or other shoppers), small bonuses (e.g. pay for 100g of soap, get maybe 112g)
- Cons: slow shipping esp. to East Coast, UPS sucks (no other choice), some things can melt/leak, can't see and smell and feel products beforehand, can't pick the best one of something (biggest, freshest, &c.)
- NA retail stores
- Pros: Sensory overload! Lots of in-store samples to try out. Possible to get custom sizes of some things. Bio-fresh face masks are only available in stores. For fixed price but variable size items (e.g. bubble bars), you can pick out the biggest ones they have.
- Cons: high overhead (sales tax is 8.8% in WA), prices are higher in stores than online(!), get what you pay for
- UK mail order
- Pros: Even with conversion from GBP, prices are WAY cheaper in the UK. Products are reportedly more colorful and smell more intense, fast shipping
- Cons: high overhead(min. shipping is like $45), not impossible to have customs issues
- Based on #1, I usually do big orders through NA mail order, and stick with the store for sampling things and occasional must-buy small purchases. The shipping is about the same as tax, and the prices are lower, so that's why mail order is usually a win. If you can find 2-3 local people (or even 1 other if you both have big enough orders) to split the UK shipping, that would be a very good option to investigate.
- The LUSH website has user-reviews of items. While I don't find the reviews themselves particularly useful, the average star rating (1-5) is very often spot-on. Not always, but often. Anything over a 4.2 is almost guaranteed to be a winner, while less than a 3.8 is probably passable if I haven't sampled it.
- If you shop in-store, the SA (Sales Associates) are usually really good about giving you samples to take home if you ask. This is on top of the samples in store.
- There have been some complaints that SAs can be too pushy. I've not found this the case in the Bellevue store at all, but YMMV.
- Stores have "parties" relatively often (maybe averaging one every other week). They're not usually huge productions, maybe some small decorations and snacks. The draw is that if you RSVP you usually get a free "goodie bag". My freebies have ranged from a disappointing handful of small samples, all the way up to an entire pot of Gorgeous (by far the single most expensive LUSH product: $72!) along with the usual stuff. If I do shop in store, I try hard to make it coincide with a party. Free is always good.
- Continuing with the theme of getting the most for your money, one option is to watch for specials. With one recent huge exception, LUSH doesn't run any fabulous sales. Every so often they'll do something like "spend $60 and get one thing free", which is not much, but admittedly better than nothing. A particularly good promotion they've occasionally run online is something like "free shipping on orders over $85". That's about as good as it gets for them.
- Staying with that theme, LUSH sometimes has things in multiple sizes. The big sizes are usually, BUT NOT ALWAYS, better deals. You need to check every time - it's very tricky, for no good reason. Just divide the price by the weight for each size, and see what's really the cheapest.
- The LUSH gift sets are almost always a bad deal. Unlike most places, LUSH typically charges MORE for bundled set than the items would be if you bought them individually. They do usually come with a coupon: right now it'd almost certainly be the BOGO offer I talked about, but they've had things like a 10% off coupon in the past. Yes, they're very pretty, but even the coupon typically doesn't make up the cost difference.
- NA LUSH has a pattern of raising their prices slightly twice a year; once in January, once in July. This may or may not continue, but it's something to think about.
- LUSH discontinues items more often than I'm used to companies doing. They actually have a good reason for this, unlike just about every other negative item I've mentioned. All LUSH stuff is handmade, so making twice the number of varieties means twice the work, and probably won't bring in twice the revenue. There isn't much economy of scale to be had. So, if they want to introduce something new, it often means something gets cut. You can get a heads-up on specifics on the LUSH Forum so as to stock up on your preciousssssses.
- LUSH soaps are pretty soft when they're made. This means they dissolve quickly in the shower. You can cure the soaps by leaving them out in a warm, dry place for a week or two, and they harden up, and last much longer. They only lose a small amount of scent; I really think it's worth it.
- Shower jellies are a love-it-or-hate-it item. I love them. I put them in the freezer, and they still wiggle. It's like showering with Jell-O! They can be hard to hold on to, though, and if you drop them they can crumble and your investment will go right down the drain. You can also use them like a gel by using a shower pouf, which I do sometimes with my dregs.
- One of the best LUSH items is their line of moisturizers. Sadly, there is no sure-fire way to figure out which one will work for you without trying them. You can narrow it down a bit, but there's just so much variation in people's skin that it's impossible to accurately generalize, no matter what the product descriptions say. This is where stores come in handy.
- It's far, far too easy to buy and hang on to things that are only so-so. If it's not OMGFABULOUS for you, it's probably not worth the money. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. It's likely that something will be that good for you, but you'll have to figure out just what on your own.
- The LUSH Forum is a great place to swap and/or sell stuff you don't want anymore.
That's enough for now. Maybe more if I think of them.
- Music:The Mountain Goats - Your Belgian Things (KEXP)