By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Income: $38,952 (from working part-time for half of 1997)
Health Insurance: paid by mother
"Money helps, but you can also have a good day when you've helped people--for example, people who have bunions and have a very hard time finding shoes."
Ann Klahr, 37, sells shoes at Peter Fox on Madison Avenue.
"I sell a lot of shoes. I can sell anything as long as I know my product. You can't wait for the phone to ring. I do a lot of client-telling. I will look at a shoe and I'll think of a person. When new arrivals come in, I call my clients.
"I have two customer books with close to 300 names. I've got people who have hammer toes, people who are narrows, a lot who are 11 to 12s. Then I have the smalls, size four and a half and five. People with special needs.
"I've been at Fox three months. My first sales job was at Abraham & Straus. I was a rep for Riviera sunglasses. Then, Brat, a boutique in Great Neck. I'm from Great Neck. Then Searle, Via Spiga on Madison for one and a half years. I was the top salesperson at Via Spiga. My best day was 16 pairs of shoes and two bags. Everyone was pissed off at me. They said, You can go home now. The manager said, No she can't.
"I had 25 other interviews before coming to Fox. Most people couldn't afford me. They could afford, like, $25,000. Thirty thousand was like pushing it. Most places are $7.20 to $8 an hour straight salary plus 5 to 8 percent commission. I only want commission. You make more money. I know I can sell. On a great day at Fox, I make $300 to $400. My goal is to do at least $4000 a month, $48,000 a year.
"You meet a lot of different people in sales. My mother swears I should write a book.
"Someone was taking a long time to decide about shoes. I asked her if she had a concern. She said the shoes weren't speaking to her. She usually gets a psychic feeling from the shoes. She wasn't getting it.
"You want to hear a really good one? She was a ballerina. She had her hair tightly done in a bun. I know she was a ballerina because I studied dance from nine to 16. They wanted me to do it professionally. She said, I'm in need of a podiatrist. What does Ann do? I pull out my client book. I set up an appointment that day for her. She said, You saved my life. This is why retail is hysterical.
"Once a woman put on a shoe. She took off the shoe, said, This is not for me. She threw it at me.
"I was married five and a half years. He was produce manager for the Food Emporium in Great Neck. I expect to be married again. Gizmo, my dog, a shih tzu, is looking for a wealthy daddy so her mommy can stay at home.
"I like better things. I'm not like my brother. He's a filmmaker. You should see his wedding picture. He was wearing a vintage Chinese silk pajama top. We dress differently. I'm into cars. He's not. I'd be happy with a Beamer or a Benz.
"My father and uncle manufactured vertical and Venetian blinds.
"I live in a studio in the 90s on York. Elevator building. I call it God's country. When you look outside my window it's all trees. Even at two in the morning I hear birds chirping.
"Two years ago I stopped working for eight months. They said I had chronic fatigue syndrome. I'm recovered now. During those months, I also pursued my personal shopping business. I'm always doing something. I would even do home-decorating stuff, event planning. I would do anything just to get in the door. I was charging $50 an hour because everyone else was like $60, $65.
"I'm working full-time again. The chronic fatigue seemed to be caused by my diet. Now I eat only organic fruits, vegetables, and meats. I get everything at The Vinegar Factory. I have to juice, 32 ounces a day, spinach, parsley. I only eat goat products. So you might hear me go baaaah. Organic food is expensive. Gizmo, my dog, has to eat organic, too. She has colitis."