By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The needs of the people of Los Angeles are unending. Dinner reservations must be booked. Prescriptions must be filled. Friends must be shopped for. Cats, medicated. Dogs, groomed. And so, a Gofer Girl’s work is never done. For the employees of the Gofer Girls errand service, “errand” expresses the concept of infinity far better than pi ever could. Beyond shopping, it means courier, clerical, gift wrapping, gift delivery (and, even better this week, gift returns), personal assistance, home assistance, home organizing and pretty much anything (though not everything) you can think of that falls into the category of Making Life Easier.
Recently, I spent a day running errands with Lisa Ristorucci, the CEO and owner of Gofer Girls. Because she is a hands-on kind of person, who doesn’t like being trapped in an office all day, Ristorucci is also the company’s Queen Gofer. Currently, there are nine Gofers in the field. Historically, they have all been women, though Ristorucci recently brought on a guy Gofer, the first in the company’s two-and-a half-year life span. Ristorucci started the company after graduating from UCLA, where she majored in English. At that point, she didn’t know what she was going to do with her life, but she was used to doing errands at the doctor’s office where she worked. Before long, she realized that instead of running errands for someone else’s business, she’d rather run them for her own. In those days, the Gofer Girls LLC was basically her, in her car, driving around town and solving people’s problems — a mobile company of one.
It is a chilly winter morning when I meet Ristorucci. Our first stop is the backyard of a small, fairy-tale-cottage house in Brentwood where a regular client, Catherine, runs a floral-design studio.
“We do the fluffing and deliveries for her business,” Ristorucci says.
“Regular flower deliverymen will just hand you the flowers,” says Catherine, while Ristorucci loads the vases into the van. “But she fluffs them, puffs them, spritzes them and installs them so that when the people walk in, they just see something beautiful. Each week, they get a different arrangement, so it’s a surprise.” She pauses and turns to a second Gofer Girl on this call. “Can you add some water to that one?”
“You just asked me that 30 seconds ago,” says Gofer Girl Kyrie. “I wish we could multiply me so I could do more things.”
Running errands all day can get old fast, but Ristorucci seems to love it. “I like darting around the city,” she confesses, leaning forward over the steering wheel of her Toyota Rav 4. “You never know what you will be doing. One day, we had to put in shelf liner for someone. That errand has never been repeated.”
When she hires gofers, Ristorucci looks for “a good voice and a good face,” by which she means poise and a friendly bedside manner; a trustworthy, straightforward, capable demeanor; and FBI-caliber references. Someone, in other words, who would never, never ever rob, vandalize or ax-murder you or your pets if you left her with the keys to your house. Ristorucci is the pinnacle of all these things. She is also gorgeous. She is small, with an athletic body, creamy skin, full lips and fine, auburn hair that frames her face in bouncy, classic bombshell curls. If you saw her in action, you’d think, “Now there’s a girl with moxie.” Today, she is dressed casually in black knit pants with a black embroidered cotton blouse nipped in at the waist.
“The thing is that we can’t wear a suit, because we’re always getting down and dirty,” she says, adding that she’s stumped right now about uniforms. “I’m thinking maybe a cute James Perse T-shirt, with our logo on it and ‘Just gofer it!’ on the back, with a little blazer on top?”
It’s a tough call, since, mostly, Ristorucci’s errand runners don’t announce to the world that they are Gofer Girls, because some clients might want to pass them off as on-staff assistants. So for now, they dress in a style Ristorucci calls the “Malibu mommy” look: nice sweatpants, cute button-up shirts with a tank top underneath, and often Uggs for footwear. Dressing like a hoochie is verboten. “Some of the girls are really pretty,” she says, “so to show skin on top of that would be taking away from the focus of what we do.” For accessories, each Gofer Girl gets a purple clipboard, a purple pen, and a small plastic pouch to zip in their receipts.
“See how nice she is?” Ristorucci grins, after we’ve swapped out a woman’s dead flowers for fresh ones. “I feel like, what’s that statue with the many arms?”
“Maybe. I’m the home base, and I write very detailed e-mails for the girls to work from.”
Ristorucci’s personal specialty is packaging. “You can send a Gofer Girl around town to get stuff together for people,” she explains. “Like if you have a boyfriend, I can put together a little package for him. If he likes baseball, we can go get him tickets for a ball game, then pick up a six pack of beer, then go to Fred Segal for his favorite cologne. I like to put stuff in something useful, in this case, maybe like a cooler.”
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