Confessions of a Paid Line-Sitter

Racked interviews entrepreneur and professional line-sitter Robert Samuel.  Samuels started his line-sitting venture, Same Old Line Dudes (SOLD Inc.), as the iPhone 5 was launched:

I was an employee at AT&T, and I lost my job. I wanted to supplement my income because I used to sell iPhones, and this time I wasn’t going to be able to sell them and make a big commission check. I live a few blocks from the Apple store on 14th Street, so I said, “Let me wait in line for somebody else and make them happy.”

The guy that hired me cancelled and said he wasn’t going to use me—he was just going to get it online but that he was still going to pay me. He paid me $100 and I resold the spot and made another $100, and then I called my friends and told them to come on down, because I just made $200 standing in one spot on a weekday afternoon.

They came down and took up spaces, but after a while they got tired and went upstairs to my house and hung out, and I ended up selling one of their spots. I also sold milk crates for $5 a piece that I had in my house. At this point, the line was getting long and people didn’t want to stand, and some people didn’t want to sit on cardboard on the floor, so my milk crates came in handy at $5 a pop. That’s $325.

Samuel has waited in line for everything from iPhones to cronuts to Isabel Marant‘s H&M line. He attributes his success, in part, to a phenomenon he calls “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out): “Especially [in] New York, you have friends and you’re hanging out and it’s like, ‘Did you see that new exhibit at MoMA?’ ‘Do you know what a Cronut is?’”

(HT: Marginal Revolution)

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  1. mikemenn says:

    maybe a freakanomics episode on why cities like New York and Los Angeles are SO different from the norm of the rest of the country. is it because so many people live in these cities? is it a heritage difference? is it survival, creativity, laziness, entrepreneurship, pride, what?

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    • James says:

      Or is it because only crazy people choose to live in those places?

      Yes, there’s money to be made there, but note that the ones making the most money need not live there. E.g. the $200/day Manhattan helicopter commute.

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  2. Clunky Shoes says:

    Outside of my office in Manhattan, at the Foot Locker downstairs, several times a year, crowds will gather for the launch of whatever new Jordan sneakers Nike has created. These guys, (and they are almost entirely guys), will sit up to three days waiting in the elements. We have talked about it in the office. Some conjecture that these guys are line sitters. But if you ask the guys outside, they will all claim to be entrepreneurs looking to buy these sneakers and sell them on ebay for lots of money.

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    • Anne says:

      If I pay you to wait in line to buy new Nike sneakers for me or you buy them and then sell them to me on ebay, what is the difference?

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