Michelle Dustin first experienced the thrill of a thrift store discovery when she was a teenager working at Arc's Value Village in New Hope. She had what she calls a light bulb moment a few years ago that led to her new job as a personal shopper for the nonprofit.
"I thought people could really use help bridging the gap if they aren't a thrifter but they want to get in and get the deals, this is a great way to do that," said Michelle. She approached Arc with the idea and after a very popular pilot program, Arc decided to offer the service five days a week.
"She's a professional stylist and a thrifter at heart," said Laurel Hansen, Arc's business manager. "[Shoppers] love her because she makes them look good."
Shoppers wind up spending an average of four to five times more than they normally would in the store.
How it works
After a client goes online to Arc's Value Village homepage and books an appointment any one of the four locations, they will fill out a form for his or her size, style, and wardrobe challenges. Then, Michelle will spend 90 minutes searching for a wide variety of clothing, shoes and accessories and have the items laid out in a dressing room for the clients arrival. Clients will then have a 75 minute appointment to try on items.
"I ask that they not hang anything up after they try on," said Michelle. "I want to do all of that so it's hyper–focused and the shopper enjoys the experience."
Maggie Kaufmann says the service is like shopping with a friend. She's signed up for three appointments so far and jokes that she's considerably expanded her wardroble.
"I've done personal shopping with a major deptartment store and only left with three or four pieces, but when I leave after an appointment with Michelle, I walk away with a week's worth of outfits," said Kaufmann. "They are at great prices too."
Shannon Slatton, reporting
June 6, 2012