Harry, Bromley and Kroger

For a number of years I used an electric shaver. I did not miss the ever-increasing cost of Gillette razor blades, but I somehow missed the ritual of blade shaving.

A few years ago, two Internet-related businesses began to take hold and cater to male frustration with the cost of razor blades: Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s. Dollar Shave Club had a hilarious viral video in which its CEO explained the product, but DSC only offered its blades by subscription — and I did not want to sign up for automatic, regular delivery. My beard is very light-colored, far lighter than the hair on top of my head, and I usually shave every other day instead of every day.

I ordered a razor and blades from Harry’s and I’ve never looked back. Unlike DSC, which resells products from Dorco, a South Korean company, Harry’s makes its own blades and razors. But the blades are reasonably-priced, and the razor handle is nice. There are two models — the cheaper plastic “Truman” model, and the chrome “Winston” model, which can be monogrammed as a gift.

Best of all, you can order the Harry’s blades a la carte, on your own schedule. The company does offer subscription plans — and has been pushing them more and more — but the option to buy a single order is still there.

By the way, I’ve since discovered that if you don’t like DSC’s subscription plans, you can buy the exact same razors and blades that DSC sells directly from Dorco, and if you don’t mind buying in quantity they’re very inexpensive. But I was happy with Harry’s. At one point, after Harry’s had made improvements to its razor handle, I bought a whole new starter set just to get the new handle.

I ordered two sticks like this a year ago in May, and I still have half of the second stick left. This stuff lasts a long time, especially if you only shave every other day.

My original starter set, way back when, included a tube of shaving cream. I’d never used shaving cream from a tube before. I liked it — but while Harry’s razors were very inexpensive, I found cheaper options to its shaving cream. For some time, I was using Cremo, but now I have reverted even farther into the past and I am using shaving soap and a brush. I’m like some sort of geezer hipster or something.

Gillette is apparently somewhat threatened by DSC and Harry’s; they’ve been touting a subscription plan which allows you to get its blades a little cheaper. They have also claimed (although Harry’s disputes this, and I tend to believe Harry’s) that many Harry’s shavers have become dissatisfied and returned to the Gillette of their youth.

Harry’s, which had been available primarily online, has now begun selling its products at Walmart.

Anyway, on my last couple of visits to Kroger I noticed a display for a new line of razors, Bromley’s. The logo, in big block letters, is sort of similar to the Harry’s logo, only curved, and I wondered if Bromley’s was some sort of new startup looking to duplicate the success of Harry’s.

I did a little checking online, and it turns out the Bromley’s trademark is owned by Kroger itself — it’s basically a Kroger store brand. The razors are manufactured for Kroger by Dorco, the same company that supplies Dollar Shave Club.

But the blades are relatively inexpensive, and on a whim I picked up a handle and a set of blades today. The gimmick to Bromley’s is that one handle fits three different types of blade heads — one with three blades, one with five blades (like Harry’s), and one with a really ridiculous-sounding seven blades.

The handle comes with a seven-blade head pre-installed, so I’ll get to try that one, but I suspect it won’t be noticeably different from the five-blade head, and it’s the five-blade refill cartridges which I purchased.

At the current introductory price, the five-blade cartridges are cheaper than Harry’s; the regular price is just about exactly what I pay to order the Harry’s cartridges by mail, but I’d have a little extra flexibility by being able to pick them up when I’m in Kroger, which is pretty often. I have to buy eight cartridges at that price from Harry’s in order to avoid shipping costs; with the Bromley’s, I could buy a package of four and not have to worry about shipping.

But we won’t know for sure until I actually try out the razor. If I’m not happy with Bromley’s, I’ll just go back to using my Harry’s razor. I’m a winner either way.