Who was the first Broadway discounter?
Have you ever wondered where it all began?
What started the discounting phenomenon? And more importantly . . . who started it?
Was it The Geislers, the geniuses behind BroadwayBox.com? Was it TDF, the org. behind the TKTS booth?
Was it David Merrick, The Abominable Showman? (a must read, btw)
While all of the above had major impacts on the distribution of Broadway tickets over the last century, one guy beat them all to the slashing-prices punch . . . and he did it in the 19th century.
That guy was a Hungarian immigrant named Joseph Leblang . . . and he started it all in 1894!
Joe had a tobacco shop on 30th Street and he got free tickets in exchange for putting up show posters in his window. Well, smarty-pants Joe started selling those passes for cash. And since it was all profit to him, he sold them at less than full price.
I’m sure the shows weren’t too happy about him undercutting their full price at first (just like we’re not happy when a full price buyer stumbles upon BroadwayBox when googling the name of a show), but when he started moving an enormous volume of tickets, they started sending him extras to sell! He started putting people in the street to bark for business, and even had flyers like the one on this page.
Sound familiar? It’s the basic model of the TKTS booth, which started almost 80 years later.
Joe took something that was handed to him, and turned it into a business. At the same time, he revolutionized an industry.
The irony is that a zillion other shop owners were given those free tickets. They all could have done the same thing. They all could have made that money . . . and more importantly . . . made that significant impact.
Opportunities are out there. You just have to keep your eyes open, and then act on them.
For a full description of how Joe did it, read this great article on NYTix.com.