This illustration is from the cover of a 1923 catalog from the St. Louis department store, Stix, Baer & Fuller. They didn’t call it a catalog; it was their “Personal Service Bulletin.” Inside, you are encouraged to contact Mary Allen, the store’s personal shopper, for assistance in choosing just the right item. Other stores across the contry used a similar method, and even magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar had shopping consultants.
According to Jan Whitaker in her book, Service and Style, personal shoppers got started at the end of the 19th century when rural women were getting their urban friends to shop for them in the newly developing department stores. Some of these friends began free-lancing as personal shoppers, and eventually the stores hired their own shoppers.