Meet the New Yorkers who will wait in line for you – for a price

Adonis Porch and Brian Patterson — who are both line-sitters for Same Ole Line Dudes LLC — set up camp outside a Chelsea storefront shortly before midnight during the city’s first heatwave of the summer, with the intention of staying overnight. They were armed with a tent, a chair, a neck pillow, fully charged phones and a pizza loaded with banana peppers.

Patterson even brought some of his action figures.

“We all just talk, giggle and have a good time,” Patterson said. “And then, the sun shows up and we all just go about our days.”

Porch and Patterson were getting paid by the hour to make sure their clients had the first spots in line for a Balenciaga sample sale that would start at 9 a.m. the next day. They wore matching hats and carried a banner advertising the business, and were among several “professional line-sitters” who had been hired to hold spots in line for the sample sale, which drew a large crowd.

Line-sitters have grown in popularity as more New Yorkers become willing to pay to secure a chance to access high-demand goods and opportunities, which can range from shoe releases and Apple products to Broadway tickets and other performances.

Providers typically also offer a “premium service,” where a line-sitter will purchase and deliver a coveted item to the client – and even ship it out of state, if necessary.

The process is simple: a client without the time or desire to stand in line can submit a request to the service and wait until a team member bites. After the client pays in full, the line-sitter will let the client know when they’ve posted up at the spot.

Porch – who is also Same Ole Line Dudes’ assistant manager – said he’s waited for K-pop concerts, helped a child get past the waiting line for entrance into a competitive private school, and even bought lingerie for a man’s partner.

“I won’t say what kind of thongs they wanted – but it was an interesting purchase,” Porch said.

How a Craigslist ad became a full-fledged business

A Craigslist ad in the summer of 2012 was the catalyst behind the business. After Robert Samuel, 48, was fired from his job at an AT&T store, he said he took inspiration from the throngs of people he always saw waiting in line for the latest iPhone.

In the ad, Samuel said he’d wait in line for anyone eager to get their hands on the new iPhone 5. Someone offered him $100.

He ended up selling more spots in line – and milk crates for people who were desperate to sit. He left that night with more than $300 in cash – and a lasting impression of how far customers will go to get what they want.

“New York City – just by itself – is a wealth of experiences and things to buy and do and watch and see,” Samuel said. “And while it is exciting, it can be overwhelming. It can be a bit of a turnoff, y’know?”

Samuel said he realized he could capitalize on that.

“That kind of anticipation of wanting it but also being turned off by the wait to get it?” Samuel said. “It’s what positions us in a good spot. We are the solution to your problem.”

More than a decade later, his team of line-sitters has grown to include nearly 36 members. They’re routinely hired to wait in line for slices at Lucali Pizza in Brooklyn or for unclaimed “Hamilton” tickets from the Richard Rodgers Theater’s cancellation line.

When reality television star Jenna Lyons hosted a stoop sale in SoHo, two Same Ole Line Dudes employees were the first in line.Others were hired to wait in line for former President Donald Trump’s arraignment in Manhattan.

But the service isn’t cheap.

Hiring someone from Same Ole Line Dudes will cost a base of $50 – and an additional $25 for each additional hour they spend waiting in line. For sample sales or a spot in line for a cronut, the price jumps to $65. Having someone wait in line until your name is called at a restaurant costs $55. Tips are appreciated. There can also be additional costs depending on the weather, holidays, and rush hour or overnight requests.

Although the business has no trouble attracting customers, it’s also attracted criticism from businesses and the people waiting in line alongside the professionals.

“Saturday Night Live” has banned the service entirely, Samuel said. The company even went as far as threatening his business with litigation.

Samuel also said that his business has encountered trouble with the tennis courts at Hudson River Park. Hudson River Park Trust spokesperson Shalini Ramaswamy said the park had strict rules in place against such a practice.

“The tennis courts at Hudson River Park are free, open to the public for up to an hour while others are waiting, and operate on an honor system,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “While no individual or firm has been specifically banned, Park rules prohibit unauthorized commercialization, including selling access to Park spaces and amenities.”

Broadway even attempted to halt professional line-sitters from getting standby “Hamilton” tickets – but customers got around it by buying tickets for the line-sitter and themselves. Hiring the line-sitters to wait in line for last-minute discount tickets became a “relative bargain” compared to buying resale tickets, as Samuel explained.

Same Ole Line Dudes rode that deal “‘til the wheels fell off,” Samuel said.

Some on his team members have seen the musical multiple times now.

They’re not the only spot-squatters in the line-sitting industry. Since the emergence of gig-based websites and apps like TaskRabbit, there are now several ways you can hire someone to hold your place in line.

And the work isn’t universally accepted, either, as some people waiting in line the old-fashioned way might take issue with the time-saving hack.

“Most people probably are just too sheepish to call out someone who cuts the line or swaps in, but it is a real slap in the face to the people who actually tough it out and play by the rules,” Reddit user John Murray once posted in a thread discussing Same Ole Line Dudes holding spots in line for “Saturday Night Live.”

Samuel said he suspected that some of the criticism Same Ole Line Dudes receives may also be racially motivated as he is both Black and gay – and largely hires Black and Hispanic New Yorkers to work for him.

“When you see people that don’t look like you and that are in a line for something you don’t normally expect them to be – tennis courts are a perfect example, we always stood out like a sore thumb — people became curious,” he said. “And the first thought is: Are they selling spots? Hustling? Wrangling?”

Regardless of the flak the company receives, Samuel said he is looking forward to the rest of the summer’s blockbuster events, such as sample sales, sneaker sales and even Trump’s sentencing.

And for Patterson and Porch, being a line-sitter has been more than just a side hustle. They say it’s taught them a lot about how New Yorkers operate: Time is money.

“I’ve learned that New Yorkers are not as patient as they pretend and you can’t get mad at New Yorkers for them stepping on your shoe, or not saying excuse me because they are always in a rush,” Porch said.

“New Yorkers are greedy,” Patterson added. “It is not a cliché. Everybody has to have something new to stay relevant. If I’m not wearing the brightest color then who is going to recognize me?”

“Saturday Night Live,” Broadway and Lucali did not respond to requests for comment.

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