The tall man with a goatee is still sporting shades, even though the sun set several hours ago. He's attired in a Von Dutch shirt and jeans, and he sips a red martini while eyeing the packed dance floor at Scottsdale dance club Myst.
Jackie Wellington points to the man, guessing he's a ‘‘$30,000 millionaire’’ — an office jockey who makes less than $40,000 but dresses and acts like he makes much more. On this Friday night, Myst is filled with men sporting brand names like Armani and Christian Dior.
‘‘You can spot them,’’ says Wellington, 30, of Ahwatukee Foothills. ‘‘He has the ‘I'm money’ look, but I would bet $100 that he doesn't make more than $35,000.’’
Wellington approaches the man and returns a few minutes later with a big smile on her face.
‘‘He's a car salesman for Honda,’’ she says, laughing. ‘‘$30,000 millionaire, for sure!’’
In Scottsdale especially, these $30,000 millionaires are as common as fake Prada.
Andrea Price, a 23-year-old cocktail waitress at the dance club e4, says she often encounters them at the chic nightspot.
‘‘When people come in and the first words that come out of their mouth are, ‘Don't worry, we'll take care of you,’ then you know right there that they're a $30,000 millionaire,’’ she says. “They're pretty easy to spot nowadays. . . . They're the guys that wear every single name brand possible. They're flashy. They drive more expensive cars than their houses.’’
Price recalls a man who ordered bottles of vodka all night.
‘‘He was basically running us crazy that night, and we didn't have time to work any of the other tables,’’ she says. ‘‘And then he ended up walking out on his bill. The bill did get taken care of, but there was no tip at all.’’
It's not unusual for $30,000 millionaires to order champagne (the most inexpensive brand, of course) and use the empty bottle as an accessory, Price says.
‘‘They will not let us take it from the table,’’ she says. ‘‘They just want all the empty bottles to sit there. And they'll carry it around with them.’’
DROWNING IN DEBT
Gary Johnson, a director at Tempe's DFA Credit Counseling, says he frequently comes across men who have piled up sky-high credit card charges with excessive shopping, dining and clubbing.
‘‘For many people, that outward expression of who they are, that image is everything and they’ll spend whatever they can lay their hands on to do that,’’ he says. ‘‘We see people who are spending more on vehicles than they are on houses. There are people with $800 car payments and $500 rent payments.’’
Johnson says some of his clients dish out $150 every weekend on entertainment alone.
‘‘I know I’m in trouble when the client hands me a bill and says here’s my Platinum Visa and here’s my super gold VIP card,’’ he says. ‘‘What’s happened is those credit cards have become part of their identity.’’
Kraig Foote, president of downtown Scottsdale gallery Art One, says he often comes across $30,000 millionaires.
‘‘We get a lot of people in here who act like they have boats of money, but they never buy anything,’’ he says. ‘‘They come in and put things on layaway. They take it home and make three to six months (of) payments and then they can't afford to make the payments, but yet they come in in a BMW.’’
Foote says $30,000 millionaires are browsers more than buyers.
‘‘There are a couple of guys who come in who are in their mid- to late 20s. They always come in here in the newest fashions and newest haircuts, and they can barely afford their car payments.’’
Foote says the gallery once had to repossess an $1,800 painting from someone who couldn't afford the monthly payments.
‘‘They had a Range Rover, and you went to their place and it was like ‘oh my God,’ ’’ he says. ‘‘It was kind of a ridiculous bachelor pad. I expected it to be a really nice place, but it wasn’t. It was an apartment.’’
BEWARE OF LETDOWN
Stephanie Kingman, a 28-year-old clubgoer, is always on the lookout for $30,000 millionaires.
‘‘They're a big letdown,’’ says Kingman, a Scottsdale resident. ‘‘At first you think you're talking to a guy who makes a lot of money. They come at you with polished lines, offer to buy you and your friends a round of drinks and then stiff you with the bill.
‘‘That actually happened to me once. I thought I had met Prince Charming when I really met a big cheapskate!’’
Marin McElhany, an event hostess for Axis/Radius, Myst and Suede, agrees.
‘‘They're all about trying to get free drinks,’’ says McElhany, 37. ‘‘They'll drop all the names they possibly know. They're always looking for the hookup. They'll say ‘I have a friend who knows the owner. Can you hook us up?’ ’’
McElhany says she recently went on a date with a $30,000 millionaire who worked as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan Chase.
‘‘He talked a big game, but when it came down to it he was 35 years old and he was still renting,’’ she says. ‘‘He didn't own anything.’’
Where the $30,000 millionaires party
7340 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
The Crown Room
7419 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
Devil's Martini North
10825 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
4282 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale Road
J Bar at the James Hotel, 7353 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale
2501 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
7340 E. Shoeman Lane, Scottsdale
4426 N. Saddlebag Trail, Scottsdale
7316 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale
How to dress like a $30,000 millionaire
Luis Tamayo, store manager of Sunset Clothing Xchange, a Tempe boutique of new and used items, says it's easy to dress like a $30,000 millionaire.
‘‘You can get a burburry button-up here for $30, a pair of True Religion Jeans — which still continues to be a really big label — for anywhere between $70 to $100, $115. A pair of Diesel sneakers for $25. A belt with a buckle for under $20 and maybe a pair of fake designer glasses for $13.’’
The price for the total look?
‘‘Under $200,’’ he says.
In addition to his store, Tamayo says you can get the look at other Valley resellers and Nordstrom Rack.
‘‘They're a gold mine as far as getting designer labels at a fraction at the cost,’’ he says.
Once you have the look down, Tamayo says to be sure to see and be seen at all the right spots.
‘‘You have to know all the right martini bars and always roll up with an entourage,’’ he says. ‘‘If you want to present yourself as though you have more money than you actually do, you're not going to arrive alone. You're going to have a buddy or two and a couple of girls with you. You always arrive in a group and you always make a big entrance.’’
How to spot a $30,000 millionaire
$ He's decked out in the latest brand names.
$ His car is more expensive than his home.
$ He often brings up his car in conversation.
$ He orders the cheapest bottle of champagne.
$ He drops names from the bar owner to door host.
$ His credit cards often get declined (and he acts surprised).
$ He describes his job without going into detail.