How One Man Earns Up To $1,000 A Week By Standing In Line
By Maggie Zhang
Good news: You may never have to wait in line for Shake Shake, Cronuts, or iPhones, ever again.
Robert Samuel, New York-based founder of Same Ole Line Dudes (SOLD Inc.), will wait for you.
Samuel is a "professional line sitter." He waits for anything, from sample sales to Saturday Night Live tickets. Samuel charges $25 for the first hour and $10 for each additional half hour. In one week, he can make up to $1,000.
Samuel got into this business two years ago, when he lost his job as an AT&T sales representative and needed a new way to make extra cash. When the iPhone 5 came out, he put an advertisement on Craiglist offering to wait in line for it for $100.
Hours before he purchased the iPhone, Samuel's original customer cancelled on him, but decided to pay him anyway. Samuel was ready to leave the line, but decided to resell his spot.
By 8 a.m. the next day, after 19 hours of waiting, Samuel had earned $325 from selling his spot, inviting his friends to come down and sell their spots, and selling milk crates for $5 a piece to people who were tired of standing.
Samuel found this venture so profitable that he put a name to it and started SOLD Inc. in December 2012. It's not his full time job - he also works as a concierge for a luxury building in Brooklyn - but it's been a venture that he's hoping to grow.
Samuel's friends have even chipped in to help. "[They] have turned into my employees, and they pretty much do a great job," says Samuel. When he gains a new customer, he now sends a mass text out to about a dozen friends to see who wants the job.
One dedicated friend-turned-employee waited in line for a whopping 43 hours for a Shark Tank audition in Denver, earning the company $800.
More high-paying gigs like that began to roll in when the Cronut craze started last summer in New York City. For $60, Samuel and his line waiters offer to pick up two of the delicious pastries and deliver them straight to their clients. From this service alone, SOLD Inc. can make upwards of $240 per week.
Surprisingly, not all of Samuel's clients are rich. "It's all everyday people," he says. "Sometimes I get a customer who can't get out of work on time to wait for a movie premiere, or somebody on the Upper East Side who really wants a new Xbox but doesn't want to stand in the cold for seven hours before it goes on sale. It's a whole medley."
Even if Samuel isn't hired to wait in line for a big event, he will still go, just to hand out business cards. "I'm very grassroots," he explains. "When there's a line that goes around the block, I go and work the line." When he approaches people, he asks them, "Are you hot, tired? Don't want to do this again? I'll do it for you."
Samuel believes there's no such thing as overpromotion. "You have to consider everybody as a potential customer," he says. "Even if they don't take the card, I'll tell them our name. They can't unhear it, so I'll be as vocal as possible. That's business for us in the long run."
Social media works wonders for him as well. "I always tell whoever is working an assignment to send us pictures of where you are," says Samuel. "We post them to reinforce people's trust in our company and brand, and we also send the photo to the customer to show what they avoided by hiring us." In addition, he writes the name of his company in chalk on New York sidewalks, especially in SoHo near the Cronut bakery, sample sale locations, the Apple store, and subway entrances.
In the past, most line waiters were hired off Craigslist or Task Rabbit. Samuel's company is different because he put a name to it. "It's not like Joe Smith, some random person you found on Craiglist, is standing in line for you," says Samuel. "We are the Same Ol Line Dudes - people hear and talk about us, and I'm grateful for that."