On Wednesday morning I stopped by the SoHo Apple store in New York City to purchase an iPad for a family member. As I had anticipated, a store clerk said they were out of stock and recommended that I check back the following morning. When I asked what time I should arrive, the clerk hesitated, looked around as if about to tell me a secret and said: “Well, do you see that group of people outside? They’re already here waiting for tomorrow’s shipment of iPads.”
I looked, and saw that outside the store sat a small group of Chinese men and women ready with camping chairs and apparently all the time in the world, preparing for a chilly night on New York’s streets as they waited to buy the iPad 2.
The people I saw waiting outside the SoHo store mostly refused to answer questions about what they were doing. But one man, who looked to be around 40 years old and declined to share his name, said he could make up to $400 a day by purchasing and reselling the iPad 2. As I reported last year, this is more money than many Chinese immigrants make in a week.