A Year in the Life of a Route Shopper

Mar 01, 2024

Mystery shopping has played a very important role in my life since December of 2021. If I had not gotten
in an auto accident and sustained sever nerve damage to my back and left side, I might not have found
On September 13, 2019, my world was turned upside down. I was involved in a double rollover auto
accident that broke several ribs and scapula all on my left side. I was in constant pain. My left arm was
weak and without improvement my doctors were telling me I was not going to get better. I could not touch
my left shoulder. It hurt so much. Even wearing clothes was excruciating. Every day chores hurt. I could
not stand long enough to even do the dishes, carry laundry down to the washer. Laying in bed on my
right side was unnatural for me and being on my back was painful. Wearing a bra was out of the
question. I was a caregiver, not one to be cared for. I worked as a skilled care CNA working with
quadriplegics and others with physical disabilities. I worked as a Paraprofessional in the school district
Special Education department. Going back to either of my positions was out of the question with my
physical limits. To say I was depressed and throwing a personal pity party was an understatement.
Fast forward to December of 2021 and social media. I don’t remember which platform I was using at the
time, but I saw a story or reel by Mercedes Eckert. She talked about Mystery Shopping. I was hooked. I
joined her platform in April of 2022. I saw Mystery Shopping as an opportunity to work when I felt good.
At first, I only did a few shops per week. I needed time to recover from the pain of daily life and
shopping. I learned that there were many shoppers that suffered from a wide variety of different physical
In December of 2022 I attended ShopCon in Orlando and learned about video shopping. I knew right
away that I wanted to be a route shopper. I spent the first of 2023 learning my video equipment and
getting to know some schedulers I could help.
In March of 2023 I embarked on what was the best year of my new life. I agreed to do a route of shops in
Texas and was gone from March 15th until mid-May. Then I left again the second week of June and returned
in August in time for school to start. I left again at the end of September and returned in time for
Thanksgiving. I left after Thanksgiving for one last trip, returning for Christmas.
I learned a lot about, my health in 2023. I learned about my physical, emotional, and mental health. I
learned I can push through a lot of pain to do what I want to do. I was so happy on the road. I did get
lonely for my family, but I got to see more of my family in TX and FL in 2023 than I had in any year since
2006 when I moved to Utah. Mystery shopping allowed me to push my understanding of what I could do
without putting my flat on my back. It boosted my mental and emotional health so much without
damaging my physical health. I walked thousands of steps per day. I drank so much water and even
learned about drinking too much water. I learned about foods I could eat in the car instead of potato
chips. I ate nuts, and tuna. I made my own trail mix with all kinds of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. I
learned that pineapple juice was good for leg cramps. I learned that I liked my solitude. The long drives
between locations allowed me lots of time to think, plan, dream and renew friendships over the phone.
It allowed me to be me and free of judgment from myself or others. I could have long meaningful
conversations with people I cared about and that cared about me. I also gave up over 30#.

I enjoy being on the road. I find peace in the natural beauty of the earth, sky, and the clouds. So much
joy and beauty my soul is at peace. My mind is calm. My heart is full. God is good. The people I meet
while mystery shopping are fun. I learn so many things. All the décor from apartment shops gives me
ideas for my own home. Mystery shopping does a lot more for me than helping pay the bills. I dare say I
am not alone when I say mystery shopping is good for my overall health and well-being.

If you'd like to learn more about mystery shopping and want to get started in your own journey, go to www.ishopagp.com.



Meet Sonja!


Sonja is a full-time Mystery Shopper. She started mystery shopping in January of 2022 and joined iShop in April of 2022. She started video shopping in January of 2023. She now does many extended, long-distance video routes. Her favorite part of mystery shopping is getting to travel across the country to see her family. So far mystery shopping has paid for four extended trips to see family on the Gulf Coast and a trip to Disney World.

Sonja lives in Utah with her husband and custodial grandson. She has an angel son and four beautiful adult daughters. She has twelve grandchildren, six boys and six girls. She is a Gulf Coast native and relocated to Utah with two of her girls in 2006.

When she is not mystery shopping, she enjoys playing games with her family and friends, cooking/baking, and many crafts. Her crafts include pouring resin, sublimation, acrylic paint pouring, jewelry making, sewing, woodworking, and more.

She collects unicorns and claims to have over 8000 in her collection. Her collection includes many mediums such as resin, wood, stone, brass, glass, acrylic, cloth, ceramic, and more. She has bells, clothes, jewelry, planters, candy dishes, night lights, wind chimes, dishes, linens, paintings, lacquerware, and more. She says her smallest unicorn is .5 inches and her largest was 6’7”. That one is another story.