On a recent day trip to Blackpool with the family, we made a detour to Lytham in Lancashire so I could visit a perfumery shop called Fascination. My partner and his mother quickly realised that this was a grave error of judgement, for once let loose in the shop it was apparent that I was going to be some considerable time browsing in this veritable Aladdin's Cave of scent. So they went off, visited every other shop in the town, had a cup of tea, walked by the front and finally returned forlornly a good hour and an half later and begged me to come away.
For Fascination, despite its unprepossessing exterior, was as its name suggests absolutely fascinating, crammed from floor to ceiling with stock of designer and niche brands alike. I would compare its range to a cross between Les Senteurs, Liberty's, Boots and your granny's attic. They had the new releases from Serge Lutens, Amouage, Creed, Czech & Speake and Acqua di Parma to name but a few, but also the latest Prada or YSL - all at prices comparable or slightly better than in London. They also carry some niche brands which you don't come across very often, such as Acqua di Genova and Lubin. Additionally there were a number of unusual - and possibly discontinued - US designer brands like Alfred Sung and Jesus del Pozo, which I have read about on perfume sites but never encountered in Europe before.
In terms of store layout the approach was the polar opposite of that adopted by Les Senteurs. Although there were some elegant wall displays of bottles, the counter tops were bristling with stock and testers, which had Amouages taking their chances rammed up against Serges - you could miss so many gems if you didn't take your time and proceed inch by inch along the counter with forensic care, like the police combing a field.
The proprietor Lynne (not sure about the "e") was happy to chat to me for the entire time I was there, breaking off - quite properly - to attend to the customers who dropped by. At a guess, these were mostly regulars: well heeled residents from the surrounding area - the NW is an affluent retirement destination and also classic "Footballers' Wives" territory. Having quickly clocked that I was one of those perfume nuts from sites like Basenotes, Lynne proceeded to quiz me about my views on a variety of niche releases. I felt flattered that she assumed I would have tried all the scents in question already, which for the most part I had.
Eventually I let myself be dragged away by the rest of my party, though not without a mini of an obscure designer scent and a bunch of free samples. We headed off to watch the Blackpool Illuminations, which were impressive, though nothing could make me light up as much as Fascination - a "must sniff" stopover for any perfume lovers venturing "up north"...