O.C. Register: Personal shopping isn’t just for the VIP anymore

On a recent Wednesday, Sara Aplanalp pulls back an unmarked beige door at the rear of Neiman Marcus Fashion Island.

She says hello to a security officer in a black suit as she signs her name on a clipboard. Within moments, she’s on the department store floor, dashing across the shiny marble in 4-inch Via Spiga heels.

“You can never go wrong with a pair of Manolos,” she says, handling a pair of snakeskin pumps that retail for $935. “It’s all about gray. Gray is the new neutral.”

Aplanalp isn’t shopping for herself. She’s shopping for Jeff, a 49-year-old Newport Coast resident and business owner. The shoes are for his wife. (The Register, by the way, has changed Jeff’s name to ensure the holiday surprises for his family.)

The personal shopping industry – which is expected to grow 2 percent annually over the next five years, according to market research firm IBIS World – is tapping an important trend: personalization.

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