Sampling Lab

A store that gives stuff away for free! Is it too good to be true? Find out what happened when I visited once a week for a month.

This place seems too good to be true.  Sampling Lab is a store on N. Williams that gives you products for free!  So what’s the catch?  You have to review the products for them.  Interesting concept, but is it worth your time and energy?  I visited once a week for the last month to check it out.  Here’s what I got and what I passed up:

Sampling lab lobby

Sampling lab daves killer

Visit # 1:
I came home with a loaf of White Bread Done Right from Dave’s Killer Bread.  
I passed on some really tempting artisan marachino cherries, Hot Lips Soda, Red Duck ketchup and a number of other snacks and bars.  I’m hoping those cherries will be there next week because I really want to try them.  
As for the bread, it was excellent!  It reminded me of the loafs of sandwich bread I bake during the winter.  We used it for a few sandwiches and toast.  Based on the survey questions I’m guessing Dave’s Killer Bread is hoping to target families with this loaf.  And I must say it would make an excellent PB & J.

Sampling lab maraschinos

Visit # 2:
I stopped in on a Sunday afternoon and picked up the jar of Maraschinos I had my eye on during the last visit.  The store was a little bare, but the owner said that’s because the Wall Street Journal is doing and article on them and he’s saving inventory for their visit.  (You can read their article here), everything was the same as my last visit, except Dave’s Killer Bread was all gone.
The cherries were great!  They tasted exactly how you’d hope a maraschino would taste.  We ate them straight and I popped a few in my homemade amaretto sour.  

Visit #3
Cafe Vita Espresso and Coconut Water:
This has been on the shelf the last two visits so I gave it a try.  It was good but nothing to write home about.  I drank it in the car on my way to baby’s swimming lessons. It tasted a lot like a bottled frappuccino but with less sugar and coconut instead of milk.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  It left me wishing I’d tried something else, like a fancy dog food they had in the refrigerator case.  Spike would have loved it.

Sampling lab skratch

Visit #4:
Skratch Rescue Hydration Mix
This visit was a little disappointing because the store was very empty.  They said it was because they had a rush of customers after the WSJ article, they also said the article attracted many more clients so a lot more products are on the way.  I decided to try a product that’s been around all month, Skratch hydration mix.  It’s kind of like a gatorade alternative and I must say I enjoyed it.  It was not nearly as sweet as gatorade but just as easy to use and tasty.  Just pour the powder in 16 oz of water, shake it up and drink.  I could see myself carrying a couple packets of this stuff on longer hiking trips.  I passed up a chia drink that look interesting (but I’m a little weirded out by those seeds) and some dried cherries.

Sampling lab thumbs

Sampling labs shelf

A few notes about how this works:  You can get one item per person per day, as long as you complete your review.  As soon as you check out, they email you a receipt with the survey attached.  Simple.  You must complete the survey before getting a new product.

Sampling lab lounge

I like trying new things, especially for free.  And I appreciate that at least some of the brands are local.  The good news is after 4 visits, I’m planning to continue visiting. I’m kind of addicted.  Something about it is just fun! I don’t know if it’s worth a drive across town for one little sample, but if you’re in the Mississippi/Williams neighborhood it definitely worth a stop. Happy sampling!


INSIDE sampling lab pin


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