Feeling particularly broke this holiday season? Need a few last-minute stocking stuffers? You're in luck, because there's a store on N. Williams where everything is free. There isn't even a cash register.
But there is a small catch: For every sample you take, you must review it via an online survey if you want anything more.
Basically, Sampling Lab is where opinionated Millennials and small companies come together for a little mutually beneficial give-and-take. Portland Monthly recently took a look inside and got the low-down on how the storefront/test-market works.
First you sign up for a free membership online. Even though it's seems to be targeted to Millennials, there doesn't seem to be an age restriction other than members must be at least 18 years old.
Then you visit the shop to browse (with free Widmer beer or Hot Lips Soda in hand) for samples among the 20 or so (often-local) brands in stock. Products lean heavily toward foodstuffs like tea, coffee, crackers, and cocktail syrups, or health and beauty products. Some samples are full-size, and members are encouraged to take them home to put them to use. You can read about the products via signs or a Bluetooth-enabled iPhone app.
First-timers get to pick one sample per day, but can work their way up to three at a time if they don't shirk their reviewing duties. SamplingLab plans to rotate the selection every month or so.
If you're planning to stop by during the holidays, keep in mind SamplingLab is closed Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1.
Regular hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m to 8 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.