“Like free products? We thought so. Welcome to SamplingLab,” reads the unique company’s website.
SamplingLab is located on Williams Avenue in North Portland and opened last December. After joining as members, customers can sample one free product every day in exchange for providing feedback to the producer. Members who return daily and faithfully complete reviews can earn up to three free items per visit.
“It’s like a personal invitation from brands to have your say in what they make,” the company’s website reads.
A free SamplingLab app allows users to submit their input anywhere, anytime. “It’s a very cool technology that will make you wonder how you ever shopped without it,” the site reads.
SamplingLab is decorated in a homey, inviting style, with chairs, rugs, and lamps. “Check-out” consists of scanning the item and emailing a survey to the “buyer” who can then enjoy the item at his or her own pace.
Items range from peanut butter cups to shampoo to dog biscuits, all full-size and 100 percent free. SamplingLab currently carries about 20 brands, many of which are local, and has a long waiting list of potential products.
SamplingLab has enjoyed popularity, especially among young people. Within ten days of opening, the store had 800 members. “We have many people who come in daily,” said a SamplingLab employee. “This is their morning stop.”
“Wow, wow, wow. What an amazing first day at SamplingLab,” founder Jeff Davis said following the opening. “Nothing but positive comments, which made me breathe a lot easier. Day one. The concept worked.”