Personal services can simplify a hectic life
There's a certain thrill in finding the perfect pair of shoes or the lamp that'll complete the living room, or a satisfaction in cheering up a friend with a bouquet of flowers. But often there aren't enough hours in the day to enjoy these simple pleasures.
Instead of adding stress to your life with the demands of shopping, errands and everyday chores, there are peple you can call to help. Personal shoppers are popping up around Milwaukee, and they're here to get the job done.
We got the scoop from two local ladies: Chris Spytek, a personal shopper at Boston Store in the Brookfield Square Mall and Sarah Stolowski of Pink Cap, who runs errands and offers concierge and personal assistant services. With the holidays lurking around the corner, there's no better time to give these services a try.
"I help with wardrobing needs, give fashion advice, help choose gifts for any occasion, and coordinate everything from alterations to gift wrapping and delivery," Spytek says, underscoring a personal shopper's broad range of duties.
And most importantly, she adds, "I work within their schedule and budget. I understand that my customers' time is valuable."
To use time most efficiently, clients can use personal shoppers to get a head start.
"Many of my customers like to make an appointment so that I can specifically select merchandise prior to their visit and have it ready for them when they arrive at the store," says Spytek. "But I am also happy to help customers who are already in the store."
Spytek says personal shoppers must be patient and enjoy helping people. With a profusion of styles out there, assistants must tune in to each customer to find the perfect product to fit his or her lifestyle and personal taste. Other area shops, including Marshall Field's in Mayfair, also offer customers this complimentary service.
So, how many people actually use something like this?
"This service is more predominantly used in larger cities, such as New York and Chicago," admits Spytek. "However, the trend appears to be catching on in other cities."
Stolowski agrees that Milwaukee is one of those cities that's catching on. But those who take advantage of these handy helpers come in all ages and from all professions.
"My clients range from 25-year-old professionals up to 70-year-old women," says Stolowski, who launched Pink Cap in March.
How much does it cost? At Boston Store it is part of the customer service, and there is no charge for Spytek's expertise. But with the extensive list of errands and services Stolowski offers her clients, compensation is only fair, she says.
"I do everything across the spectrum from literally running an errand, delivering flowers, all the way to personal parties," Stolowski says. "Anything to make your life a little bit more simple, anything that you don't have time to do, but you want it done really well."
She will go to the grocery, liquor store or pharmacy, take in your dry cleaning or drop your car off for servicing. And she offers personal assistant services: party planning and preparation, travel reservations, organization consulting and personal shopping and returns. And this is only the beginning.
Stolowski's hours are "all over the board," she says. Sometimes clients will call early in the morning and many weekends she's preparing for Friday night dinner parties and Sunday showers.
One might wonder what kind of satisfaction she gets from running around doing other people's busy work. Well, Stolowski says, it's all about personalizing relationships ... and she gets to flex her creativity.
"Coming from a sales background, it was really hard for me to put a personal touch on my work," she says.
"There are tons of single moms and very busy people responsible for entertaining their clients and building relationships. A lot of times it gets lost, even with the technology of e-mails versus handwritten notes, e-vites versus paper invitations," says Stolowski.
And other than doing the paperwork, Stolowski says she loves every aspect of her job. She has turned her hobbies of the past 15 years into a career, she says.
Stolowski admits that many Midwesterners would rather do the work themselves to save the cash, but says when they realize that once there's a plan, "You don't end up overspending.
"People might sometimes be surprised at the fee," she says. "But I think they're also really surprised at how efficiently you can get things done, and I have a lot of customers tell me that the $30 an hour doesn't end up mattering because if they were going to Target themselves, they'd end up buying things they don't need."
To contact Spytek, call Boston Store at (262) 782-6888. To contact Stolowski call (414) 453-PINK, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stolowski also takes credit cards.
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