On the eve of the sale of Apple's newest phone in retail stores, the iPhone hustle is building on sidewalks in major cities, including Chicago.
Julian Diggs, Gregory Thornton and a handful of their buddies have been camping out in front of the Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue since Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of the iPhone 5 going on sale Friday morning in part, to sell their spots in for cash, but also to feed their own iPhone fanboy mania.
Diggs, 23, who holds the first place in line, has been hawking his spot to the highest bidder, calling out to passersby that the coveted position could be theirs for a mere $500. On Thursday morning, he was considering bumping-up the price to $1,200 His friends advertised their spots in line on Craigslist offering to sell their positions for the "best offer."
Diggs is a self-described Apple "fiend" and aims to sell his spot for cash then and get back in line to buy himself an iPhone 5, which goes on sale at 8 a.m. on Friday morning. He and his friends are making a tradition out of this, as he captured the number one position last year when the iPhone 4S was released.
"I just like to stay updated and when there's a new design and extremely new features," said Diggs.
"I'm impatient, I want it now," added Charles Bahmandeji, 24, who held the third spot. "Plus it's an experience, with my friends."
On Thursday afternoon the line was about 10 to 15 people long -- with sleeping bags, folding chairs, benches, backpacks and blankets -- stretching around the corner of the Apple store. Passersby occasionally stopped on the street to look at the modest, but expanding line.
Diggs and his pals have been lucky, they've slept little but eaten well, laying out on the ground in front the store covered in blankets at night and sitting on chairs they brought with them in the cab from their North Side homes. The weather has been mild, if only slightly windy and the public has been generous. One man gave them two uneaten pizzas from Gino's East, they said and another brought them a huge batch of cookies.
On Thursday around noon, the No. 5 spot-holder, Danielle Dietz, sold her position number 5 for $400 to a bidder on Craigslist.
"Oh my God, I sold it," she said closing her eyes and smiling. Then she began worrying that when the bidder arrived he might forgo their deal and opt to get in the back of the line which was on Thursday afternoon was still relatively short.
Diana Murray was leaving a doctor's appointment at Northwestern Memorial on Wednesday when she spotted people camping out in front of the Apple store and decided with her husband to get in on the potential money-making action. She was holding two places a few spots down from Diggs and his friends.
"I said, 'Hmmm it sounds like a good idea to me,' " said Murray, who is on disability.
Then North Side resident went home, packed a couple of camping chairs, blankets and a picnic with her husband and returned to claim a spot on Wednesday evening with the hope of selling it for more than $100. On Thursday around noon, Murray had yet to receive any offers. Like Diggs, the couple have been sleeping in short stints stretched out on the sidewalk. It's been pretty peaceful, she said.
"I have bills to pay, she said, "ComEd is high."
No one was in line at the new AT&T store, south of the Apple outlet, where iPhones also will go on sale Friday morning.
The iPhone 5, will start at $199 and up depending upon the service plan and features. It features a 4-inch retina display screen, high-speed 4G LTE connectivity, better cameras and a controversial smaller dock connector called Lightning.
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