Harry Lehmann is a true Berlin institution. And my current Mintel Cityscape article. The company was founded in 1926 by the eponymous Berlin perfumer who came up with the following retail concept: sell high quality fragrances by weight, let customers bring their own bottles and combine all of this with affordable prices. Not surprisingly, this strategy proved to be popular with Berliners (and not just because of Berlin and Germany were already stuck in a major economic depression!).
The original Harry Lehmann store opened near Potsdamer Platz (not far from where I live, actually!) where it remained until 1939. Then the perfumery moved to Friedrichstrasse. In 1943 this store was bombed out (for my international readers: we’re talking about the last years of the Second World War) and in 1946 Lehmann reopened a few streets further away. This new location was in Soviet-occupied Berlin – not a good place to be! – and in 1952 Harry Lehmann moved to a shop near Kurfürstendamm in Western Berlin. And in 1958 the store finally found its current location at Kantstrasse 106 in Charlottenburg.
Harry Lehmann still is a family-owned business and is now run by the third generation of Lehmanns. The store’s 1950s visual appearance is bewitching; check out the huge perfume flacons. There are some fifty odd fragrance blends including lovely old-fashioned fragrances like Lily of the Valley, Jasmine and Lavender. The emphasis is on strong, simple fragrances, mostly florals, orientals and green blends. And the original retail strategy is still in existence: choose whichever perfume, eau de cologne or aftershave you want and get the desired amount filled into the container of your choice – you can either bring your own bottle or buy one right there in the store.
EDPs and EDTs are retailed at around 4,50-6 Euro per 10ml (depending on the fragrance variant), EDCs are 5 Euro per 100ml and bottles cost between 2 and 4 Euros. Very affordable! I treated myself to a bottle of lavender water when I visited the store a few days ago. By the way, it’s cash only; like many smaller Berlin retailers Harry Lehmann does not accept credit or EC cards. However, they also do mail order and they ship worldwide. You can order via telephone and fax but there is no online store.
When I was there this elderly lady was chosing a perfume. And she told the sales lady that she’s been buying her fragrances at Harry Lehmann for over 50 years. How is that for a testimonial?! It’s a really cool store, genuine, traditional and unpretentious. The address is Kantstrasse 106 in 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg. Definitely worth a visit, even if you don’t wear perfume.