SamplingLab, The Store Where Everything Is (Or Was) Free, Closes Permanently

Who could’ve guessed that a shop stocked with free samples wouldn’t be sustainable?

By Tuck Woodstock February 16, 2016

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Fourteen months ago, we introduced you to SamplingLab, an experimental retail concept that traded free full-sized products for consumer feedback. Today, SamplingLab founder Jeff Davis announced that the North Williams storefront would close permanently on February 17.

“From the day SamplingLab opened 14 months ago, we’ve been pushing the envelope with our first-of-its-kind approach to product sampling and consumer feedback to create a fun, engaging and meaningful experience for consumers and brands,” Davis wrote in an email to SamplingLab members. “Sometimes, however, that envelope pushes back, so we've determined it's necessary to shift gears and pivot the business model.”

Over the last several months, SamplingLab earned national attention for its innovative concept, landing features in the Wall Street Journal and Business Insider. More than 9,000 Portlanders picked up free samples at the Williams store—including 4,000 in its first month of operation—but SamplingLab struggled to stay stocked with fresh new items for consumers to test.

According to Davis, SamplingLab will re-launch later this year in a new form, with details yet to be announced. In the meantime, you have until 6 pm tomorrow (Feb 17) to help the shop divest of its remaining inventory. Rumor has it that there are still plenty of dilled pickle bites and bags of spelt rotini to go around! (Hey, it’s free—don’t complain.)


4019 N Williams Ave

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