Not since Cinderella’s stepsisters mutilated their feet to squeeze into that glass slipper have women leveled such fierce desire at footwear. At last fall’s sale, two women dumped their babies on Manolo employees in the lobby as they sped into the room.

Inside, a thousand pairs of shoes are heaped on tables in plastic bags. Some scofflaws wear old shoes, leave them on a table, and sneak out with new ones.

I stopped by the 10 1/2 table to look for a Christmas present for a friend. “Have you seen any flats?” I asked a woman avidly pawing through the pile.

“If I find them,” she snapped, “I won’t tell you.”

One young man, a lawyer, braved the female crowd to hunt for heels for his girlfriend. “Bonus points,” he said slyly.