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Stumping for Shelf Space

It might seem like a strange career switch, until you consider that the investors in the last beverage sensation in Manhattan — Glacéau, the makers of Vitaminwater — split $4.1 billion last year after Coca-Cola bought it.

“Bust my hump and get some equity in the company,” Mr. Margulies explained. “That’s what we are all here for.”

Guru, which is already selling in Canada, is trying to crack the New York market by zipping around the city in electric minicars painted like Guru cans and hiring cheerful, attractive young women to offer samples at convenience stores, health clubs, supermarkets and delis.

But most of all, it is relying on the skills of salesmen like Mr. Margulies, who in three months on the job has received a quick education on how to win coveted shelf space in beverage cases around the city. It requires a gift for schmoozing, a comfortable pair of shoes and armorlike skin.

The nonalcoholic beverage market, in New York City and elsewhere, is tough. For decades, it was dominated by

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