In a fast-paced town like New York, time is clearly money. Few things are more daunting than the idea of standing for hours on a slow or non-moving line, especially when the weather is bad. More and more, busy New Yorkers are outsourcing mundane and time-consuming tasks like waiting on line for new technology products, tickets to entertainment events, the infamous Cronut or even premium spots on designer sample sales queues. Cue a proliferation of line-waiting services targeted to those who know time waits for no man — but who are willing to pay any man large sums to #skiptheline
A video posted by Same Ole Line Dudes, LLC (@sold_inc) on
LLNYC spoke to Robert Samuel, the man behind one such firm, Same Ole Line Dudes [SOLD] to get the lowdown on the good, the bad and the ugly of the line-waiting game.
Who started Same Ole Line Dudes and how many people currently work as line-waiters?
I have 25 people on the roster who can accept line sitting assignments and Task Rabbit-type tasks as they become available. They work full-time or are students. Some are veterans even, so we have a nice mix.
When did you start the firm and what was the reason?
Having lost my job at AT&T in early 2012, I spent most of the year depressed and it wasn’t until the iPhone release that I decided to wait for someone else’s phone, since I wasn’t going to sell them! My customer’s online order went through, but he still paid me for waiting at the Apple Store and encouraged me to sell my spot. I ended up staying through the night, earning $425 and buying a phone that I had no intention of purchasing. A few months later, I revisited the idea, put a name to it and Same Ole Line Dudes was born!
What kinds of people (jobs/income) tend to employ you to stand in line?
Our client base really includes people from all income levels and professions. I have CEOs, lawyers and doctors, but on the opposite end the spectrum are busy stay-at-home moms who can’t be at a play date and stand in line for their favorite designer sample sale. That being said, anyone who can afford to pay for our services: $25 first hour, $10 each additional 30 minutes with a minimum of two hours.
How do people find out about your services?
Because of standing on the infamous Dominique Ansel Cronut line, press and the general public began to take notice of our service and what we do. We are on social media (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) and to increase word of mouth marketing we also have a building staff/concierge referral program. We give 10 percent or $10 (whichever is greater) to anyone who refers us to their residents or guests.
In addition to founding SOLD, my full-time job is as security at some prominent NYC buildings such as Walker Tower, 100 Barclay, 100 West as well as the Steinway Tower , currently under construction. I’ve gotten Cronut jobs from my security work — word gets around.
What is the oddest or most inconsequential item you’ve ever been asked to wait in line for?
It always amazes us when we’re tasked to wait in line for free items! We did a Star Wars poster giveaway recently and that was just amazing. The assigned sitter even ended up winning a BB-8 droid toy that he actually gave to a die-hard fan in line with him! Waiting in line for craft beer at Other Half Brewery was odd only because they blocked us on Instagram when we promoted them. Turns out they feel only beer purists and die-hards should wait, not hired help. Oh well!
What is the longest amount of time you (or any employee) has waited?
The longest I’ve personally waited in line was 48 hours for the latest iPhone 6S and 6S Plus this past September. Prior to that, our record was 38 hours for Shark Tank auditions in Colorado.
What are your favorite and least favorite line tasks and why?
My favorite line is the Dominique Ansel Cronut line, for two reasons: First, its mostly because of his success and media exposure that the press and general public began to take notice of our service and what we do! And secondly, because its the most convenient to where I live, being just two stops on the train or a 10 minute Citibike ride away. I can usually handle Cronut requests on the fly! I also love the Apple lines, because they’ve paid the most!
My least favorite lines are the sneaker releases mostly because they tend to be the most unpredictable. The crowds can be rowdy, retailers can shut down the store, not enough stock,. etc. Any of those variables lead to an unhappy customer, and even though we have no control over it, we still have to get paid.
What is the largest fee every collected and for what?
The largest fee was for largest job, IPhone 6S. [We were paid] $965 for 48 hours waiting to deliver 2 iPhones upon release day to a couple visiting New York.
Biggest horror story or weirdest occurrences while waiting in line?
Line sitting is pretty easy without much drama — outside of people trying to join friends and skipping. I see that a lot! But one incident in particular stands out: Our sitter was hired for the Hermes VIP sale at Soiffer Haskin for five hours from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. (Doors opened at noon). The lady who arrived around 10am was absolutely mortified that she was second in line. This was VIP preview, so I’m assuming she was with fashion press, a blogger, or just a Hermes loyal customer. Well, she made a stink to all the ladies who came later, and tried to rally them to intimidate our sitter into leaving. They actually didn’t care and she made a fool out of herself to them and to security who brushed her off.
Sometimes we’re hired to wait for things like Basquiat prints or FaceTime-shop for Valentino-studded heels, and people’s prejudice and their idea of who should be in line for what really rears its ugly head. We try not to let it get to us, because we’re professional and there to do a job, but we see it enough where we’re like, “I’m not wearing sneakers or sweats to this line!”