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It wasn’t a passion for fashion that brought shoppers out in frigid temperatures to line up around the block of Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday afternoon: It was the promise of free beauty products. As part of a settlement for a class action suit — Azizian, et al. v. Federated Department Stores Inc., et al., docket no. 4:03-CV-03359-SBA — 14 retailers, including Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, began distributing $175 million worth of complimentary cosmetics to consumers Tuesday. Class members were eligible to receive one free cosmetics product from a list of brands named in the suit if they had purchased from the named companies from May 29, 1994, to July 16, 2003. The extensive list of manufacturer names included Clarins, Estée Lauder, Guerlain, Lancôme and Dior. Products are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and no rain checks will be issued. “We heard there were free Chanel products and perfumes,” said Ali Rodriguez of Brooklyn while waiting to enter Saks. “I’m here for something good.” Although there was much anticipation among the crowd about which free items would be handed out, there was palpable disappointment on faces emerging from Saks’ doors. “I got one thing and it’s a shower gel for men,” said Rodriguez after receiving her free product. “What am I going do to with this?”
This story first appeared in the January 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.