Customers have long been able to take a car for a test-drive or listen to a stereo before buying. But other kinds of retailers are finally catching on, and they're being lauded for expanding the concept of using samples to entice commitment-phobic consumers. A Mercedes is one thing, but a fine wine? Here are some new things to try before you buy.
Appliances Shoppers at select Maytag outlets can use major appliances in the store to see if the spin cycle suits them. They can pop a roast in an oven or check the rinsing action on a dishwasher. Bring your dirty laundry, and you can, at the very least, finish a chore.
Drinks Enomatic machines slow oxidation and preserve taste in opened bottles, allowing customers to taste even expensive wines at shops like New York City's Union Square Wines & Spirits and Wine Gallery in Brookline, Mass.
Beauty Wondering if that pricey skin-care product is worth the cost? A subscription to NewBeauty magazine's Test Tube program brings supersized samples to your door four times a year. The cosmetics are worth about eight times the $100 subscription.
Footwear The Nike Trial Van travels throughout Europe making pit stops at running events and clubs where athletes can choose from more than 1,000 pairs of sneakers for a free test run. A U.S. version launched last spring at a kiosk called the Runner's Station in New York City.