TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, January 28, 2004
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Stress of shopping leads to personal shoppers

By Cheryl Rosenberg Neubert
The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Christine Farino is a busy, busy girl. She goes full time to Chapman University, where she’s a junior. She also works part time as a real estate agent. It's tough enough for her to find time to grab a latte, never mind update her wardrobe.

That’s what makes Farino the perfect target for Macy’s new ad campaign. The department store wants more young, time-crunched women such as Farino to use its personal-shopping service, known as Macy’s by Appointment. For the first time, Macy’s placed an ad for the service in the November issue of InStyle Magazine. The wording of the ad, which claims that personal shoppers are “here to help you find what you need to rock sassy, fresh style,” clearly isn’t aimed at the soccer-mom crowd or corporate exec types.

“Personal shoppers have been around for quite some time, and the reality is we have success working with the younger customer,” said Shonaree Michael, director of marketing for Macy’s Special Services. “But we realize there's still a job to be done, that it’s hip, cool and fun.”

And when you think about it, it is a pretty hip, cool and fun thing. You simply call and make an appointment. You tell your personal shopper your size, what type of clothes you’re looking for, maybe which designers you like. Give her your budget. Then simply show up.

All the clothes the personal shopper has selected for you will be waiting in a private area. You'll get a robe. Sparkling water. And all the time- and privacy- you need to try on the clothes. She’ll bring you shoes, jewelry, a bag. If you need a different size or color or style, if you’d like to try it on with a different pair of shoes, she’ll go back to the floor to search for you while you relax.

Farino had no idea Macy’s had someone who would do all this for her. She’d heard of personal shoppers but always imagined they were for movie stars, or at least for people who had boatloads of money.

She’s certainly had her share of near-panic experiences while braving the mall around the holidays.

“I literally got claustrophobic,” Farino said. “I was getting so overwhelmed by all the people. It would be nice to have a room to your own, with peace and quiet and not have any rush around you. When I've been trying to do my shopping, I would wish I had someone to do this for me. So I'd want to know how much they charge for this.”

Actually, it’s free.

“I couldn't see why you wouldn’t want to do this, if it’s free,” Farino said. “If they could bring stuff to me, and it’s free, that’s awesome.”

This is what Agatha Dura does for a living. She’s a personal shopper at Macy’s in Costa Mesa, Calif. She is knowledgeable about all the departments in the store, from women’s clothes to housewares to luggage to cosmetics.

She does not have many young women using her service. She thinks personal shopping might typically appeal more to an older shopper.

On the other hand, she sees young women come in to Macy’s trendy Impulse department, where they drop $158 on jeans and $98 on a tee shirt.

“If that’s the money these girls are spending on two pieces of clothing, then wouldn’t they want the royal treatment?” Dura said. “By just booking an appointment and coming in, we can make it all happen. I don’t know if the girls want help. But they don’t like to wait in the lines, either, for the fitting room. It’s a lot more organized, and it doesn’t cost them anything.”

Farino is sure sold. She started shopping there recently after receiving some gift certificates.

“If they really marketed it as something that’s no charge, if that was really clear, I could see a lot of college students or young 20-somethings doing that,” Farino said. “For instance, I know in my mind I want a red, pinstriped suit, but I could never find it. I could just call my personal shopper. Talk about the time I would save. It would just be amazing.”

And that’s exactly Macy’s’ point.

Personal shopper
KRT Campus
Help from a personal shopper is the answer in California. Could it ever work here?
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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