At Henri Bendel's department store in New York City, most women shop for high-end makeup, designer clothes or trendy jewelry. Janis Spindel shops for other women.
"Oh I'm admiring your look. Love the leggings under the dress, it's sort of a Lindsay Lohan look," she gushes to an unsuspecting brunette looking at scarves for sale. "How old are you, and the $64,000 question, are you single?"
The girl, apparently too shocked not to answer, stammers, "Um, 27, and I have a boyfriend."
Undeterred, Janis presses on with a friendly interrogation. "And how old is he? … So he's young. Do you ever date older men?" And then, the big one. "Do you think he's the one?" When Janis' target smiles a shy "yes," Janis appears satisfied … almost. "That's awesome, you're done … but are most of your friends single?"
Janis isn't shopping for herself. She's a high-end matchmaker for rich, powerful men, and she trolls upscale department stores looking for the women of their dreams. She doesn't run a dating service or engage in any casual pairings. Instead she works on behalf of men who pay massive sums of money -- $25,000 to $100,000 per pairing -- to find a wife. For each of her clients she conducts interviews, a home visit, a faux date and psychological exams to learn if they're safe, serious and ready for a wife. Then she goes out and shops the world to find the ideal mate.
"Guess what? Hiring a matchmaker is not taking away from falling in love naturally," a very confident Spindel explains. "It's doing the editing and bringing you on a silver platter three wonderful women that you're going to marry one of them."
By her own count, Spindel is responsible for more than 750 marriages and more than a thousand committed relationships. She says anyone who wants to be married, can be. To those who think "all the good ones are taken," she shouts, "wrong!"
"There are more good men across the country than Carter's stock of liver pills or than there are degrees in a thermometer. There are wonderful men everywhere. I meet hundreds of them a month!"
She adds, "you know what, men say the exact same thing to me -- where are all the pretty, smart, fabulous, funny, sexy, you know great personality women. The women are saying the same thing, so there's definitely something wrong with that picture."
She's particularly focused on career women in their 30s or older: single, lonely, and convincing themselves the situation is dire. "If you're not out there actively being proactive to try and meet a man, how are you going to fall in love?!" she wants to know. She says love is about connection, chemistry and timing. You have to find a partner when they're ready to get married, and that means it's a numbers game. The trick is to meet as many potential partners as possible. And the only way to do it is to introduce yourself to strangers!
She says too many of us have worked so hard to perfect our skills at work, at sports, in our hobbies and our friendships without investing the same time and energy in learning how to date. So Spindel offers classes -- field trips -- for single women, using all the information she's learned in talking to thousands of men about what they want in a wife. She takes them to bars in the city and teaches them how to meet men.