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Thrift Stores Get Into Personal Shopping Game

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you hear the term personal shopper you probably think of exclusive high end department stores. But now one of the most popular thrift stores in the Twin Cities, ARC Value Village, has started a free personal shopping service.

Their goal is to reach shoppers who might be intimidated by thrift store shopping and browsing all the racks for quality deals.

“We all want more time and more money and this service allows you to have both,” said Michelle Dustin, ARC’s personal shopper.

The service is free. You fill out an online questionnaire about what you are looking for and when you arrive at ARC, Dustin will have a whole rack of clothes for you to try. If you are looking for items of a particular color or certain shoes and accessories she’ll pull those for you too.

A pair of slim black pants from designer Roberto Rodriguez, whose slacks normally retail for more than $600, were priced at $12.99. But with a yellow tag, they’re half off.

A pair of Nine West shoes that had never been worn are priced at just $17.99.

It was Dustin’s idea to start the service at ARC. She was a medical writer by profession and always wanted to start a business that would incorporate her love for thrift shopping.

She approached ARC, where she worked in high school, with the plan. ARC has long realized that some people find the jumble of their store’s merchandise makes it hard to shop, so it was a good fit.

“That’s exactly who this service is for … (the people) who don’t have the time or the patience to dig through all the racks — who just don’t know where to start,” said Dustin.

So far, the service has been a hit.

“Pretty much everyone goes away spending three or four times what the average sale is at the store,” said Pam Carlson, a shopper.

Dustin began booking clients like Sharon Mule just a month ago. Mule’s 21-year-old daughter booked a joint appointment and walked out with a whole new wardrobe.

“There so much to look through and Michele made that easy,” said Mule. “It way exceeded my expectations.”

Dustin also shops what she preaches.

“My entire outfit is from ARC Value Village. I got this Steve Madden purse here I believe it was $8.”

There’s no fee for the service and no obligation to buy anything. Dustin gets a flat fee for every client she works with and her service is free.

ARC stores sales last year raised $1.7 million for people with disabilities.

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