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A Shoe Vending Machine? Hollywood Club Girls, Rejoice

Ashley Ross, left, and Lindsay Klimitz at the Colony Nightclub with their shoe vending machine.
Ashley Ross, left, and Lindsay Klimitz at the Colony Nightclub with their shoe vending machine.
Ted Soqui

Salvation has come to the

high-heeled hordes of L.A. nightlife, in the form of the city's first

flat-shoe vending machine. Squat, unobtrusive, the size of a dresser,

the thing is currently located beside the women's restroom at the Colony

in Hollywood.

"We did six or seven pairs last week, not a whole

lot," says distributor Ashley Ross, glancing brightly at the machine.

"But it's still early. We're a little bit new to the L.A. scene. This is

the first of many, is the plan."

It's a Thursday night at the

club, and Ross and business partner Lindsay Klimitz are restocking

shoes. Called Rollasoles, they cost $19.95 (or "an easy $20"). They are

basically ballet flats. Soft and squashy, they drop out of the machine

rolled up in a plastic can.

"The first time we came to L.A., we had no idea the streets were so bad," Klimitz says, popping cans into the machine.

"The

streets here are so jagged," Ross adds. "A lot of girls that aren't

from L.A., they come here expecting to walk in heels down Sunset? Yeah.

Good luck. You need backup."

Ross, 25, and Klimitz, 26, are lean,

pretty, leggy girls who became friends while partying in the Las Vegas

scene. They could not have predicted they would be pioneers in the

emergency-footwear business, though they did realize early on that they

both wanted to be their own bosses and to work in fashion.

"We're

doing black with gold studs, black with white rhinestones, black with

black rhinestones, polka dots," Klimitz says. "We want them to be

relevant to every girl's wardrobe. When you go out, you have tiny

purses, so the shoes had to roll up as small as possible."

Along

with the tiny purse and the tiny dress, the towering stiletto completes

the holy trinity of sexiness, the club girl's uniform. Klimitz and Ross

have built up considerable stiletto stamina over the years. Klimitz can

go two hours; Ross, three. "Two hours is the limit for a lot of girls,"

Ross concedes. "If you put a few drinks in them, probably one hour."

Past

that point, only discipline and peer pressure keep the shoes on. "I

would say to her, 'I don't care, you're not taking your shoes off,' "

Ross says. "It is not a good look. It's not classy."

Klimitz nods.

"Both of us are not really people that would walk barefoot. I know a

lot of girls are into walking barefoot -- when they're in just too much

pain, they can't take it. But me and her would literally suffer through

the pain."

"Mmmhmm," Ross says. "We would suffer."

"We would

complain," Klimitz continues. "You go out in your heels to dinner. Then

you go to the nightclub. By the time you get to the nightclub you can

barely stand."

In the cold, sober light of brunch after one

particularly atrocious night out, they discussed the situation, feet

bleeding. You don't want to leave the club, drive to a store and come

back. Plus, retail stores are closed by the time nightlife heats up. A

vending machine on-site would be ideal. You can buy any number of things

from vending machines nowadays. Why not shoes?

They tried

stocking a cigarette machine, but the shoes kept getting stuck. For a

while they imagined building a shoe vending machine from scratch, and

even went so far as to price prototypes. But the British company

Rollasole beat them to the punch. Rather than reinvent the wheel,

Klimitz and Ross instead bought the rights to manufacture and distribute

Rollasole in America.

In the year since, they've installed four

machines: one in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, in front of Tao

nightclub; one in Vanity at the Hard Rock casino; one at the Tropicana --

and now the one at the Colony.

They sell 30 pairs or so a week at

Vanity, although on New Year's Eve they sold 26 pairs in one night.

Club owners like the shoes because girls who wear them stay out later

(an average of 40 minutes longer, according to a survey Klimitz and Ross

commissioned), dance more and, one assumes, drink more. Guys like the

shoes because it keeps girls out partying for the night. Girls like the

shoes because, well, they're shoes.

Klimitz and Ross can't help

but reminisce about what they endured prior to their innovation. Klimitz

used to bring Band-Aids to clubs. Ross would beg bandages from the

security guards. They both tried inserts (which inevitably fall out of

the shoe) and insoles (which take up space, making the shoes tighter).

"Or

we would switch shoes," Klimitz says. "Like, 'Oh my God, my shoes are

killing me, I need a break. Let's switch.' " The girl with the shorter

heel takes the bullet and slips on the offending stiletto.

One of their friends is known for bringing a pair of flip-flops to clubs. Other girls look at her with envy.

As

a last (or first) resort, some girls ask their gentlemen friends to

carry them. Rollasole U.K.'s founder, in fact, created the product

because he was tired of giving his girlfriend piggyback rides home from

clubs.

"I have a pair of stilettos -- and she actually saw me fall in them -- that's just under five inches," Klimitz says.

"Mmmhmm," murmurs Ross. "Gotta be tall."

"And

I don't care what girls say," Klimitz adds, "no heel is comfortable.

After three hours? Regardless if they cost $50 or $500 or $5,000."

It seems an obvious solution, but would they consider just not wearing heels in the first place?

In unison, they declare emphatically, "No."

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Colony

1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

323-525-2450


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