Line standing tradeoffs

How Much to Pay For a Line Waiter?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 30, 2014    •    1699 Views

If a lobbyist wants to go to a congressional hearing but cannot do the line, she can hire a line stander. Maybe 30 minutes before entering, the customer takes the place of the “waiter.” Saying they have “significant expertise in all of the sometimes complex details of seat holding and line standing,” one Washington DC firm charges $40 an hour.

2 years ago during March, when the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision was imminent, it was a line stander’s bonanza. Although there are approximately 400 seats in the courtroom, only 60 seats were allotted to the public for each day’s arguments and another 34 for a 3 to 5 minute peek at the proceedings. Awaiting a specific oral argument or the decision, some people stood outside for days.

By contrast, for the Cronut in NYC’s Dominique Ansel Bakery, the line starts to form at 5:30 or 6 am even though the bakery opens at 8. With a 2 per person max and larger but limited pre-orders and boxes of 8, the Robert Samuel line standing firm sometimes uses several people if a client has a bigger order. Samuel’s rate? $25 for the first hour and then $10 for each additional one.

For the iPhone, during 2012, TaskRabbit said it would charge $55 for up to 4 hours on an Apple line. Interesting to see a convergence of prices for Apple and Cronuts. My applause for the market system.

Our bottom line? Line standing decisions are all about the tradeoffs that relate to time or money.

And finally, I suspect the lines at Dominique Ansel’s will be longer and line standers will charge more because of this:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot from Dominique Ansel Bakery


Sources and resources: Line stander articles are interesting. If you want to read more, Robert Samuel did an interview for his firm, Same ‘Ole Line Dudes (SOLD), as did Washington Express.

Several sentences were excerpted from  a past econlife post.


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