A Knack for Thrift Leads to a Career

The following is an excerpt from the book: Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Women

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

–Confucius

Michelle Dustin

One night in March 2011, when I was lying in bed, this idea just came to me. Excited, I jumped out of bed and ran to grab my laptop. I hurriedly typed an email to Laurel Hansen, the business director at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores. I told her about my idea, and asked if she would meet with me.

Laurel agreed to meet for coffee. Before our meeting, I did some research and put together a PowerPoint presentation explaining my idea, and why I was certain it would be a success. I felt such confidence and excitement, I didn’t even think about being nervous.

As we sat across the table from one another sipping piping hot coffee, I said to her, “High-end department stores offer free personal shopping services. Why can’t Arc’s Value Village offer this same type of VIP experience to its customers?”

I told her about the reaction I often received when I’d tell people about my thrift-store finds. The response was always the same, “I wish I could find things like that at thrift stores; I just don’t have the eye for it,” or “I get so overwhelmed at the thrift store, I just don’t have the patience to sift through all those racks.”

The PowerPoint presentation outlined how a personal shopping service could increase sales, drive brand loyalty, cultivate new customers, and set Value Village apart from other thrift stores. On the final slide, I listed several reasons why, I, Michelle Dustin, an avid thrift store shopper, was the one for the job. The last bullet point said simply, “She’s got the Gift of Thrift!”

Initially I was offered a six-month contract to test the viability of the service. Value Village sent out a press release promoting their complementary new offering. Esme Murphy of WCCO was one of the first to report on this novel thrift service. She scheduled an appointment and it was evident how amazed she was by the head-to-toe outfits hand selected just for her, the designer labels, and the rock bottom prices. Her overwhelming enthusiasm was worth its weight in gold. Moments after her story aired on WCCO, my email inbox quickly filled up, and my appointment schedule was booked up for months.

Lucky me! I now have a full-time career in which I am inspired, excited, and challenged every day. When I reflect on the path that’s gotten me here, I am reminded of a quote by the clothing designer, Diane Von Furstenberg, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.”

The woman I wanted to be is one who will follow her instincts, take risks, and blaze trails where there are none.

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“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.”

For more information about Michelle:

PersonalShopper@theArcgtc.org