September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012
Personal Shoppers Part 2

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Yesterday, I started a blog on the 10 things personal shoppers do not want you to know that I will complete today with numbers 6 - 10.

6. "Leave your modesty at the door."

Technological improvements have allowed department stores to keep track of their customers in increasingly savvy ways, Underhill says. Macy's tracks all online and in-store purchases of Macy's cardholders, according to a spokesman. Nordstrom maintains a "Personal Book," where clients' preferences and purchase history are kept on file with their permission, which a spokesman says allows the store to keep customers informed of sales or other events they might be interested in.

While in-store personal shoppers stick to their dressing rooms, independent stylists often visit their clients in their own homes. They help clients put together outfits from their existing wardrobe and figure out what key staples -- say, a white button-down shirt -- might be missing. In the process, they get a glimpse into their clients' private selves: "I always say, messy closet, messy life," says New York stylist Raes.

7. "You may need a therapist more than you need us."

The relationship between a shopping professional and her client can get personal real fast, some pros say. After all, a client spends a lot of time undressed in her shopper's presence, and vulnerabilities get exposed. Raes has recognized shopping and alcohol addictions in her clients, as well as body dysmorphic disorder, a mental health condition where people fixated on a perceived body flaw. She has referred clients to therapists, nutritionists and doctors.

Terrence Shulman, founder and director of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding in metro Detroit, has received three inquiries from personal shoppers in the six years he has treated compulsive shopping. "Most addicts in general don't like to ask for help," Shulman says, but a delicately worded referral from a stylist can provide the nudge they need.

8. "We've got eyes for your husband."

Christine Cameron, a personal stylist in New York City, estimates that about 5% of her client base is male. Her male clients are usually business owners who are established in their careers: "They can afford to buy that really nice suit and want to be taken seriously," Cameron says.

Men generally want to look good and be done with it, says Salinger, whose client base is one-quarter male. Same goes for men shopping for the women in their lives.

Jim Bieri, principal of Stokas Bieri Real Estate in Detroit, stumbled upon a personal shopper at a Von Maur department store when he was looking for an outfit for his wife. He was so successful with his choice of a classic sheath dress and jacket that he's been back several times since. "If you get the right personal shopper, she'll make you a hero," Bieri says.

9. "Our services can be addictive."

The America's Research Group survey found that 4.6% of respondents used an in-store personal shopper or an independent image consultant some time in the past year. Of those, 75% used the professional shopper more than three times that year. "When you have them, you use them a lot," says Beemer, ARG's chairman.

Corry Bazley, a Manhattan resident who works in sales for a financial services firm, sees her stylist about once each season. "There's too much choice out there," Bazley says. "I could waste so much money trying to outfit myself without direction."

10. "Without us, you never would have gotten that raise."

Bazley's co-workers noticed when she started coming to work her new, stylist-inspired looks. Gone were the boring suits, replaced by colorful separates and statement jewelry. Her new looks moved easily between the office and the ballparks and restaurants where she takes sales clients in the evenings, she says. And sure enough, she got promoted soon after. "I like to think it was my skills that did it, but I looked like I should be promoted," Bazley says.

And Bazley's isn't a fringe perspective. Says John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas: "Promotions go to people who do the best work, fit into the company culture, who get along with the boss and who impress the higher ups with how they present themselves -- it all counts."

Now that you know what they don't want you to know - here's wishing you happy shopping. Hope you have a beary safe and great Wednesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab