‘A little goes a long way’: Niche perfume store opens in Easthampton

View Photo Gallery
  • Perfumer James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms, goes to great lengths to individualize the presentation of each bottle. Photographed at his store on Cottage Street in Easthampton on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Perfumer James Barry uses his original artwork in his line of TSVGA Parfvms, including on this bottle of Fiona. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms, is also a painter and uses his artwork on labels for many of his original perfumes. At right is the artwork featured on bottles of Fiona. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Perfumer James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms, goes to great lengths to individualize the presentation of each bottle. Photographed at his store on Cottage Street in Easthampton on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, holds a vial of a Nosegasm, a perfume he just blended from natural oils. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, measures out an essential natural oil used in the perfumes he blends. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, measures out an essential natural oil used in the perfumes he blends. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, measures out an essential natural oil used in the perfumes he blends. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, measures out an essential natural oil used in the perfumes he blends. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Barry, owner of TSVGA Parfvms in Easthampton, smells an essential natural oil used in the perfumes he blends. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/7/2021 3:18:20 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A perfume store on Cottage Street is bringing new, locally made scents into the air in Easthampton.

Owner and perfumer James Barry opened TSVGA Perfvms (pronounced “soo-guh perfumes” and named for the tsuga genus of evergreen trees) at 32 Cottage St. in January, where he mixes and sells “niche perfumery.”

Barry, an Easthampton resident who works as a therapist during the day, mixes perfumes that focus on natural, higher-quality ingredients than what would typically be seen in designer store products. These niche perfumes typically come in smaller bottles but at higher concentrations, Barry said, and “a little goes a long way.”

The ingredients of these niche perfumes may also come from sources that can surprise those not familiar with the process.

A painting hung on one of the walls of TSVGA Perfvms — Barry’s artwork adorns the store and perfume bottles — shows a seaside landscape hosting a variety of plants and animals: a whale, goat, skunk, muskrat and several different flowers, to name a few. Everything in the painting contributed a scent to one of his perfumes, called Fiona — even the skunk, which produces a musk commonly used by perfumers.

Other wildlife is included in ways that could come as a surprise to people not familiar with perfume making. From the whale, for instance, is a substance called ambergris, which is essentially whale vomit. While the waxy material produced in the intestines of sperm whales may not sound like the most obvious addition to a perfume, the substance helps to make scents endure longer and add its own accent to perfumes. It’s so coveted and hard to find that it can sell for $75 per gram, Barry said.

“If you find a chunk on the beach, you’re a millionaire,” he added.

Like painting

Barry likens the perfume making process to painting, hearkening back to his past job as a full-time artist.

You choose “what different colors you want to do for a painting, create certain effects,” he said. “You get to know the different notes like the back of your hand, and what you need in order to get to your destination.”

Barry sometimes swatches the different scents on tabs to see how they’ll interact, but other times will just put them all in a beaker, having grown accustomed to how the scents will interact.

Barry began making his own perfumes about a year ago, and was quickly picked up by niche perfume curator Luckyscent. His business was also bolstered by reviews from the online fragrance community. At the time, he was looking for a new cologne and took to YouTube for a better idea of what he should pursue. He ended up ordering “bottle after bottle” and discovered niche perfume.

“I really fell down the rabbit hole and bought a few hundred bottles,” Barry. He gained an online following, with some prominent reviewers sharing his products. Then, “COVID hit and I decided to go down my next big rabbit hole of my own, so I just dove in” and opened the Cottage Street location, Barry said.

After months of relying on his online-only business, Barry was curious to see if the perfumes would have the same appeal at a brick-and-mortar location. So far Barry has been pleased with the attention the store has attracted, primarily from people who don’t have much prior knowledge of niche perfume, but had their curiosity piqued when they walked by the storefront.

A sense of smell

And Barry is glad to introduce new people to fragrances, which he believes many people undervalue.

“I think that in general, our culture … We definitely deprive our sense of smell,” Barry said. “We don’t take it seriously, whereas … it’s so important in other parts of the world.

“Here we pay for our sense of taste,” he added.. “We’ll call ourselves ‘foodies’ and try to hit all the good restaurants … But that’s a very temporary thing, on your tongue then it’s gone, whereas this is something that fills me with happiness all day long.”

Many perfumers find the scents therapeutic, Barry added, and wear perfume primarily for their own enjoyment, even if they’ll just be staying at home.

Barry makes some of the scents to evoke familiar places and memories: A perfume called Shirley, for example, is modeled after his grandmother’s garden, with Barry describing the fragrance as “a little tart in the opening,” with aromas of the pala santo fruit, “but then it gets very green.”

Another perfume, made to smell like “a campfire in a bottle,” has all the elements of Barry’s own camping experiences — not just a smoky scent, but also the tobacco his father and his friends would smoke, rum, citronella from mosquito-repellent candles and the pistachios he would snack on during these trips.

Others are modeled after more general concepts, such as Blue Heaven, which combines various blue plants and other fragrance sources; Juxtaposition, which joins contrasting scents; and Wine and Chocolate, made with sauvignon blanc and cacao.

Customers can sign up for a private scent consultation for $25, which can be applied to purchases. When appointments aren’t booked, the store is also open on a walk-in basis. Prices range from small bottles starting at $39 to larger bottles ranging from $95 to $215.

Barry also offers an hour-long, make your own perfume session. He avoids giving customers too much instruction, he said, but can provide guidance on achieving the scent they’re envisioning.

TSVGA Parfvms is open from 7-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon through 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect hours of operation for TSVGA Perfvms.Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy