People who do not have the time or the ability to go shopping for clothes, gifts, groceries, and other items use the services of personal shoppers. Personal shoppers shop department stores, look at catalogs, and surf the Internet for the best buys and most appropriate items for their clients. Relying on a sense of style and an ability to spot a bargain, a personal shopper helps clients develop a wardrobe and find gifts for friends, relatives, and employees. Though personal shoppers work all across the country, their services are most in demand in large, metropolitan areas.
Personal Shoppers Job Description
Looking for a job where you get to shop all the time, tell people what to wear, and spend somebody else’s money? Though this may seem to describe the life of the personal shopper, it’s not quite accurate. For one thing, personal shoppers don’t get to shop all the time; they will be spending some time in stores and browsing catalogs, but they’re often looking for something very specific and working as quickly as they can. And they do not so much tell people what to wear as teach them how to best match outfits, what colors suit them, and what styles are most appropriate for their workplaces. Yes, personal shoppers spend someone else’s money, but it’s all for someone else’s closet. So, if you’re not too disillusioned, read on: Working as a personal shopper may still be right for you.
Personal shoppers help people who are unable or uninterested in doing their own shopping. They are hired to look for that perfect gift for a difficult-to-please aunt. They work for senior citizens, or people with disabilities, to do their grocery shopping and run other shopping errands. Personal shoppers help professionals create a nice, complete wardrobe. All the while, they rely on their knowledge of the local marketplace in order to do the shopping quickly and efficiently.
Some personal shoppers use their backgrounds in other areas to assist clients. Someone with a background in real estate may serve as a personal shopper for houses, working for a buyer rather than a seller. These house shoppers inspect houses and do some of the client’s bargaining. Those with a background in cosmetology may work as image consultants, advising clients on their hair, clothes, and makeup. Another shopper may have some experience in dealing antiques and will help clients locate particular items. An interior decorator may shop for furniture and art to decorate a home. A personal concierge performs errands for clients as varied as walking the dog to making dinner reservations and purchasing theater tickets.
Personal shoppers who offer wardrobe consultation will need to visit their client’s home and evaluate his or her clothes. They help their clients determine what additional clothes and accessories they’ll need, and they offer advice on what jackets to wear with what pants or what skirt to wear with what blouse. Together with their client, personal shoppers determine what additional clothes are needed to complete the wardrobe, and they come up with a budget. Then it’s off to the stores.
Irene Kato owns I Kan Do It, a personal shopping service. She offers a variety of services, including athome wardrobe consultation, closet organization, and gift-shopping. “Most of my shopping so far has been for clothes,” Kato says. “I have a fairly good idea of what I’m looking for so I don’t spend too much time in any one store if I don’t see what I want right away. I can usually find two or three choices for my client and rarely have to shop another day.” Kato spends about two to three hours every other day shopping and about two hours a day in her office working on publicity, her budget, and corresponding with clients. Shopping for one client can take about three hours. “I have always enjoyed shopping,” Kato says, “and especially like finding bargains. Waiting in lines, crowds, etc., does not bother me.”
Personal shoppers often cater to professionals needing business attire and wardrobe consultation. A smaller part of their business will be shopping for gifts. They may even supplement their business by running other errands, such as purchasing theater tickets, making deliveries, and going to the post office. Many personal shoppers also work as professional organizers: They go into homes and offices to organize desks, kitchens, and closets.
In addition to the actual shopping, personal shoppers have administrative responsibilities. They must keep business records, make phone calls, and schedule appointments. Since personal shopping is a fairly new endeavor, personal shoppers must be expert at educating the public about their services. “A personal shopper has no commodity to sell,” Kato says, “only themselves. So it is twice as hard to attract clients.”