Recently a friend of mine sent a blast email out to her mom friends asking where they shop and how they stay fashionable. I never responded to her email, I just sat back and read all the reply-all messages. I too needed help. [pullquote] This was one of the most amazing shopping experiences I have ever had. I look at the pictures and I see myself looking so genuinely happy. I feel like a fashionable mama! [/pullquote]I had a baby 11 months ago, I’ve lost almost the entire 40lbs I gained during that pregnancy but nothing seems to look or fit right anymore. One of my friends responded to the email and said she used thrift stores and I’ve shopped at consignment stores in the past but it is quite an investment of time to dig through everything and find the right styles and sizes. So a couple of weeks ago I learned about the Arc’s thrift store personal shopper service. The stylist gets a fashion profile that you fill out, pulls clothes for you, then you go to the appointment try the clothes on and buy what you like. Oh yeah, it’s also FREE. Awesome, huh?
So there’s a bit of a catch! So many people already know about this secret and Michelle (the lead stylist) and her associates are booked until September! But it’s June and I needed some clothes now! Here’s where their Facebook page comes into play, on it they post any stylist openings they have from cancellations the only way to get an appointment ASAP! So I started watching their Facebook page and a spot opened up on Saturday, June 15 in Richfield. I emailed them right away and got the spot! Once my spot was confirmed I filled out a profile, it included my favorite colors and questions about my style
When I arrived Michelle had my special dressing room all ready, complete with bags and shoes to greet me! I wasn’t sure if she would be able to get my style from a few questions but she did and she was taking notes and making adjustments as we went along. She had a large rack outside my dressing room filled with the clothes she picked. One by one she would go through the outfits with me, she would check the fit and help me accessorize and even talk about how to multipurpose the outfit or pieces. I was so impressed with her ability to pick so many things I LOVED. She picked outfits, single pieces, shoes, bags and jewelry.
As I went through the appointment I would keep in my room the things I liked and then send back the things that didn’t fit or I didn’t like. Then at the end I went through the pile and picked what I was going to take home. For $150 here’s what I went home with, almost 30 different items: 4 shirts (grey/black striped, black and white polka dot, black and tan polka dot, red and white striped), Red Jeans, 3 pairs of pants (mint, aqua and dark green), 3 pairs of jeans (2 Banana Republic), Red Skirt, A jean jacket, Seersucker Shorts, “Mom sweatshirt” (Michelle said I needed a cute hoodie to wear while toting the kids and grabbing coffee-it says “Peacemaker”), Navy Stretch Dress, Ann Taylor Black and Red Stretch Dress, Ann Taylor navy cropped pants and jacket, 3 scarves (orange and white, bold colors and a grey animal print), 2 belts, Cheetah Print Flat Shoes, Stuart Weitzman Beige Wedge Shoes and 2 necklaces.
Here are my tips for a successful appointment with the personal shoppers at Arc’s Value Village:
- Use the Facebook Page: Again, right now the only way to get an appointment is to watch their Facebook Page for appointment cancellations. Also, they make notifications on the page when they start booking new appointments.
- Your Profile: Be open and honest on your profile and also don’t forget to include what you love or things you are looking to purchase. I said white pants were out of the question but included that I was really looking for a great pair of red jeans. I also mentioned my love for navy, red, stripes and polka dots and that I work full-time and need business casual clothes, Twin Cities Live clothes and mom clothes-you know, comfy but stylish that don’t involve yoga pants!
- Prepare Yourself: Do your hair the way you’d normally wear it for the clothes you are buying and wear make up if you usually do. This way you can get a good idea of how you will look on a normal day.
- Bring some things: I found it helpful to wear undergarments that could go under most clothes and to wear shoes that could go with most outfits (in my case a pair of flats).
- Try new things: Even if you know you may not like something one of the stylists suggests, give it a try anyway. My example, the chambray (jean) shirt, I tried it but it just wasn’t me. I had a flash back to days when I had really high bangs and pinned my jeans. Anyway, not for me, I tried it but didn’t work and I didn’t hurt her feelings by saying no! There were also instances of Michelle pairing certain things I would have never worn together and now love for example some mint cropped pants with a black and white polka dot shirt.
- Buy key pieces: Select things you know can pair well with your existing wardrobe or things you are going to purchase. Also get things that can be worn in multiple ways (shirts that pair with the jeans, skirt, suit and pants).
- Be ready for surprises: My big surprise was a certain pair of shoes. Through most of my appointment I was wearing a pair of beige wedge shoes and they went with everything. Some of the items I liked, including the shoes hadn’t actually even been on the floor yet (a perk of the personal shopping). At the end of the appointment Michelle went to look up the items and returned to tell me those shoes I had been wearing (which by the way had never been worn) were $400 Stuart Weitzman shoes and could be mine for $30! They went right in the cart!
- Village Reward$ Program: Arc’s Village Thrift Stores have a rewards program, you join for $10 at the register and immediately get your first $10 Rewards Coupon just for joining. With this program you get access to special sales, for example the June sale for the program is 25% off all regular priced merchandise.
- Tag Colors and special days: Pay attention to the price tag colors because there are tag color sales. On Sundays the previous weeks tag color is marked to 99 cents and applies to clothing. Click here for the Tag sale schedule.
[pullquote]When you buy clothes from Arc’s Value Village the proceeds go to many programs, advocacy efforts and services for families in our community that have an intellectual or developmental disability. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores fund programs and services that help people with disabilities and their families chose and realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play through Arc Greater Twin Cities.[/pullquote]When I got to the end of my appointment I had a hard time deciding what to buy. If I had been shopping by myself I wouldn’t have bought as much and that is what makes the personal shopping special-it helps you as the consumer get some really great new styles and have you spend a bit more than you normally would on a trip by yourself. When you buy clothes from Arc the proceeds go to many programs, advocacy efforts and services for families in our community that have an intellectual or developmental disability. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores fund programs and services that help people with disabilities and their families chose and realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play through Arc Greater Twin Cities.
This was one of the most amazing shopping experiences I have ever had. I look at the pictures and I see myself looking so genuinely happy. I feel like a fashionable mama! Without fail every time I’ve worn one of the outfits I got at ARC’s Value Village I get a compliment! I’m so thankful to Michelle and the work she put in to my appointment to make me feel and look so special. I look forward to my next appointment and hope you get one soon!