By Josh Saunders
Do you hate Christmas queues? Well meet the professional line sitters who are paid to wait for the latest gadgets, collectibles, tickets and even free samples.
Robert Samuel, 42, from Manhattan, New York, USA, initially intended to make a quick $100 waiting for the new iPhone on someone else’s behalf, now five-years-on, his team wait for the most desirable luxuries in the Big Apple.
From tickets to Broadway shows to restaurants that don’t take reservations, limited edition items, free samples, meet and greets, and more.
The longest time the Same Ole Line Dudes waited for was four days for this year’s iPhone X, charging nearly $2,000 (GBP).
At Christmas they will queue for tourist attractions from Rolf’s festively themed bar, the Rockefeller Centre ice skating rink, Santa portraits at the ABC Carpet and Home, and others.
To save visitors wasting time lengthy lines, the team queue up from two hours to several days and have even consider doing it for the Christmas shopping lines too.
Robert said: “People are really passionate about a wide range of things so one day we could be lining up for Star Wars collectibles and a free sample the next.
“We once lined-up to get a free lipstick for someone, I don’t know the price of the lipstick, but they probably paid more for us to wait than for the real cost of the lipstick.
“With the free food samples, some people can’t leave their desk to get a pizza, sandwich or something else so we do it for them.
“We do a lot of Broadway shows, luxury high-end sample sales, restaurants for those that don’t take reservations, even for Black Cat who do really extraordinary milkshakes.
“For Hamilton before the main cast left last July and everyone wanted to see the Tony-nominated stars, we were waiting for up to three and a half days.
“The most we were paid to line-up was $2,000 for a four day wait because the person wanted to have the iPhone X the same day to ship it out to someone overseas.
“Due to the increase of NYC visitors during the holiday season we see an uptake is Broadway show requests during Christmas.
“The weather is a major factor and tourists visiting the city don’t want to wait in the cold to see Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen or other lines to a chance to score tickets.
“We have done Rolf’s Christmas themed bar, the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, and Santa portraits at ABC Carpet and Home.
“Just before Christmas the Christian Louboutin Friends and Family Sale, which is invite only, is always huge for us.
“I feel very blessed, I potted this seed and grew it to a level of recognition it had.”
Robert was paid to line-up for the first time in 2012 waiting for the new iPhone of the time, after selling his place and continuing to queue he made enough money to buy the phone for himself.
He realised it was a lucrative business, but kept his work temporary while keeping full time employment.
Robert said: “I was terminated from my job and spent most of the year depressed.
“I decided would buy the iPhone on someone else’s behalf, so I put up a craigslist post and someone had me waiting in line for them.
“I charged one hundred dollars for however many hours it took, I saw it as a quick buck – but after four to five hours in the person’s online order went through with apple.com
“But in good faith he paid me anyway and encouraged me to sell my spot by the end I had made $425 and bought the new iPhone myself.”
His business developed, with advent of specialist donuts ‘cronut’ where he had to hire others to fulfil orders and soon wanted to make a name for himself.
Robert said: “It started slow for me but after Cronuts came out, I started recruiting friends to help out because I couldn’t meet the demand for orders.
“You were allowed two donuts per person and it’s a three-hour line, so I knew I needed to get more people to help fulfil the orders.
“From there I knew I wanted to be the guy you always thought about with a line or queue in New York, five years later my dream came to fruition.
“Now people recognise me on the street from YouTube and more.”
Robert is surprised at the success and has grown Same Ole Line Dudes to a flexible team of up to 40 employees – who can earn between $25 and $400 in an average week.
He said: “This was meant to be a bridge until I got a full-time job but then it ballooned and evolved into something over the five years.
“We are really happy to do this for customers, especially tourists visiting for a short amount of time, they want to embrace and take in all New York has to offer.
“We are that added service to help them achieve that, instead of them waiting in the cold for show tickets they could be at home getting ready to go to the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty
“Experiences are what it’s all about when you travel, we add a lot of value to trips to New York that makes us really proud.”
For more info visit: www.sameolelinedudes.com