Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Jordan Mickelsen gets a little help from Marcie Arnold in selecting a gift for his mother at Wal-Mart in Syracuse Friday.

The world's largest retailer is using Utah as a test market for a pilot program to lend last-minute male shoppers a helping hand during the holiday season.

On Friday, the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Syracuse was the site of the first Help a Guy Buy event that offered men the aid of personal shoppers armed with advice and assistance in gift purchasing.

For Derek Hendricks of Clearfield, a personal shopper's offer to help came none too soon.

"I was just standing around looking lost, and she came over to me and asked me, 'Can I help you find anything?"' said Hendricks.

He told her he was shopping for his girlfriend. "She asked what she was into, and I told her electronics."

After strolling over to the electronics department, Hendricks decided on a new silver 4GB iPod for his girlfriend, complete with a pink carrying clip. He noted that coordinating the colors was key for scoring a few extra brownie points.

Hendricks also used the shopper to help him locate gifts for his 13-month-old niece and a few other relatives, as well.

The Help a Guy Buy event was modeled after Wal-Mart's recently launched Web site,, which helps men choose the right gifts for their wife, girlfriend or mom based on a 10-question online survey. An added bonus for the real-life program Friday was free gift wrapping and free refreshments.

"It's no secret that some men have long been associated with delaying holiday shopping, and many aren't confident when it comes to gift selection," said Nick Agarwal, Wal-Mart's vice president of corporate communications. "We hope to eliminate the stress they feel by offering a site that makes finding the perfect gifts fast, easy and accurate."

According to the Syracuse store's co-manager, Jason Spatz, about 30 men had taken advantage of the service by midafternoon Friday. The Davis County store was the only one in the state conducting the Help a Guy Buy event. Spatz said that if the response is good, the retailer might consider expanding the program next year.

E-mail: [email protected]