June 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM ET
Impatience has a price. Robert Samuel pegs it at $25 for the first hour and $10 for each additional half hour.
Samuel is founder and owner of S.O.L.D., or Same Ole Line Dudes, a professional line-sitting company that fields requests to wait (and wait and wait) for everything from sneaker launches to concert tickets.
"Whatever you want, we wait for it," he said.
CNBC caught up with Samuel waiting in line for Dominique Ansel Bakery's Cronuts in New York's SoHo. The Cronuts, which sell for $5, are SOLD's most popular request. He charges a flat rate of $60 for two. He usually shows up two hours before the bakery opens at 8 a.m.
The idea for SOLD sprang out of an unemployment stint for Samuel after he was fired by AT&T — ironically, for being late.
To make some quick cash, he posted a Craigslist ad offering line-sitting services for an Apple iPhone launch. After a 19-hour wait (his longest) for the gadget, Samuel made $325 and an idea was born.
"I just put the idea in my back pocket, and I'm like, 'Wow, this is a money-making opportunity.' Let me hold on to this," he said.
A few months later, he launched Same Ole Line Dude. "Dude" turned plural as business picked up.
Samuel, 38, who also works part time as a security officer, now has about a dozen employees who collectively sit for an average of seven to 10 gigs per week.
Typical clients include busy professionals and executives along with people with out-of-town guests, who want to try popular items like Cronuts but whose hosts prefer to skip the wait.
The most interesting request so far?
"I had a Cronut delivery by a gentleman who wanted to deliver one Cronut to each of his girlfriends so I had to ask for two separate boxes — one Cronut each. One was going uptown. The other was going downtown. And he said, 'Please don't tell the other about the delivery,'" Samuel said.
He stressed the importance of being cordial and friendly to fellow line goers — in part to avoid the "instant amnesia" people can get when someone steps out of line to take a break and attempts to return.
To drum up clients, Samuel relies on social media, word-of-mouth and Craigslist.
Competition comes mostly from TaskRabbit — a site where people post odd-job requests and offers — and other Craigslist posters. While there are line-sitting operations in Washington, D.C., that specialize in congressional and judicial hearing lines, there is little professional line service competition in New York City.
"Once I have this up and running the way I want, and it's a very well-oiled machine, then I'll definitely consider branching out because there's a lot of opportunity," he said about expanding the business beyond the Big Apple. "There's a lot of impatient people, and there's so much to do and see and eat."
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