What Makes Someone Wait In Line For 2 Hours For A Doughnut?

That’s exactly what I asked myself as I drove down Colfax and past the new VooDoo Doughnuts and the dozens of people standing out on the street.

Voodoo Donuts

I was actually on my way for a hike when my family and I drove by the madness. By the end of the hike I was insistent that I find out what the hype is all about. I jumped onto my iPhone to look for a phone number for VooDoo so I could find out how long the wait was on a Saturday afternoon. No number, just a bunch of articles about how cool VooDoo Doughnuts is and how excited Denver is for the opening.

OK, I guess I’ll just have to go in person to find out. I find one review on Yelp that says it’s a cash only joint. Wait! I have no cash. So now I to find an ATM, get cash and get back on track to VooDoo. I have no idea how much a doughnut costs so I get extra cash just in case they are super expensive.


Then we pull up to VooDoo. My family drops me off with a smile. I take my place at the end of the block. 20 minutes go by, 30 minutes go by…and every time someone walks out with that pink VooDoo box I can see the other people in line start to salivate. I even hear one say, “Oh I can’t wait to have that box!” Ahhh, it’s a box. Slowly I inch my way towards the door.

The Voodoo Line

Finally after 90 minutes I at least make it to the doors. I feel so accomplished, like I earned the right to go inside. But like a Disney line I have a few more zigs and zags to get through before I actually get to order. I can feel the anticipation building in everyone around me. Now I’m nervous. What if I don’t order fast enough?  What if I’m not cool enough? What if I don’t have enough cash?


The donuts look amazing but the line is moving slowly. Why won’t they open all their cash registers? Don’t they know there are hundreds of people waiting?


WOO…they call me up. I order nine doughnuts ranging from Grape Ape to VooDoo doll. I’m so excited I want to stand there and cherish the moment. I watch with glee as she puts together my pink box of goodness. I have enough money so I even order coffee. Then I pay and walk out like a proud mom just leaving the hospital with her newborn. To make a point I walk past the line with my pink box so everyone can envy me and they do. I walk to the park to meet my family and along the way people are commenting on the pink box. I feel amazing!


We dig in by lining up all the doughnuts, inviting the neighbors over and cutting up each one until we get to try them all. Delicious and I declare, “worth the line!”

So, how do you get someone to wait in line for 2 hours for doughnuts?


The Pink Box.1. Discovery: Finding VooDoo wasn’t easy.

No phone number, no address…just a lot of hype. I have to do a little research to find what I need. As entrepreneurs and business owners I think we sometimes make ourselves too accessible, minimizing the perception of our value. People like discovery. I’m not saying be a hidden gem but I am saying that a little discovery can go a long way in making people feel connected to you. They found you, they are in-the-know, cool, a part of a small club of people. Are you giving your customers a sense of discovery and intrigue?

2. Scarcity: I mentioned that even though there was a line around the corner, VooDoo didn’t have two of their cash registers open.

This keeps the the line long and the crowds big. It may seem like bad business but when you walk by two restaurants which one do you want to go into? The crowded one with the line or the empty one? Scarcity, done in the right way can increase your perceived value. Are you for someone but not for everyone or are you available anytime, anywhere?

3. Badge Value: I get to say that I’m one of the first people to experience VooDoo. 

I braved the line and reaped the rewards. I get bragging rights from the moment I had that pink box in my hands to weeks later while I retell the story. Do you have a way to give your customer bragging rights?

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