It’s hard not to whip out one’s credit card after a speech like this. Ms. Tidlund’s clogs run about $120 and will withstand many years of moderate wear. She will only sell to those who have been fitted in person; once your measurements are in her computer, you can call her shop and order whatever color and style of clog you like. The shoes are crafted from European materials in the Sven factory in Minnesota; Ms. Tidlund said she is the only retailer who sells custom-fit Sven clogs. The leathers she recommends—not the nubuck and the suede, which she calls “fashion shmashion”—are polyurethane-coated, and can be washed under the faucet with dishwashing liquid.
DESPITE THE VAGUELY tupperware-party feel of Ms. Tidlund’s stints at the hotel, her primary customer base remains men, mostly chefs and doctors who understand the clog’s orthopedic supremacy. Her first customer, in 1976, she will tell you, was Wolfgang Puck himself. “I had tape on the windows,” she said. “Somebody knocked and said, ‘I want clogs now!’” Thomas Keller of Per Se is also a customer, as are non-chefs Sarah Jessica Parker, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg and an assortment of rock stars: Paul Stanley of KISS, Robin Finck of Guns n’ Roses, Brian May of Queen and Donny Osmond. “I’m on La Cienega,” Ms. Tidlund shrugged, by way of explanation.
Not that this has at all exempted her from the challenges facing small-business owners in this country, she added.
“If I don’t get an investor next year, or a miracle, I’ll be out of business,” she said. “I’ve been coming to the Javits for 17 years, and I used to do nine shows a year, but now I can only do three because I don’t have the staff. You can’t afford to live in L.A. anymore and work in a retail store.”
Around 5 p.m., a new crop of customers streamed into Ms. Tidlund’s room at the Bedford. Nicole Gammino, a stylish, pretty 30-something brunette and third-year customer, said she had sent an e-mail to all her friends. “It’s like a cult,” she said, removing her brown boots as her two friends looked around in wonder. “I bought my first pair eight years ago.”
“How do you pick?” mused one of Ms. Gammino’s friends, wide-eyed.
“How do you pick?” said Ms. Gammino. “It’s hard.”
For more information and to check on NYC visits, go to http://www.clogmaster.com.