The Post Office does it. Why can’t we?

Stockbrokers watch the news for stories that might affect the future of industries so they know when to buy or sell.

Are we entering an armed conflict overseas?  Buy “defense” stocks.  Gas prices go up?  Sell automobile manufacturers.

I try to watch the news in the Broadway industry like a broker, to see what I think will go up or down or sideways.

And there has been a bunch of breaking news about the secondary ticket market lately that would have me shorting ticket resellers if they were on the Dow, for sure.

First, the ticket bot law flew through Congress like a rocket riding piggyback on another rocket.

And just this week, Cameron Macintosh, who is presenting Hamilton in the West End, announced that ticket buyers won’t even get their tickets until a few moments before they see the show, thus denying them a chance to resell them.  (I keep wondering why in demand shows just don’t follow the airline model – since we do for so many other things – and require ID to get in the door, as I wrote about here.)

The tides are a shiftin’ for sure . . .

But that doesn’t mean the secondary market will disappear.

And honestly, I don’t think it should.  (That probably surprised you, didn’t it?)

I’ve always believed that there is a market for anything and everything.  And if there is enough of a demand for something, that a buyer wants it badly enough to pay higher than the published price, then that’s fine . . .

Remember the Beanie Baby fad?  Or ever collect baseball cards?  Heck, I sold a couple of tickets to my NYU graduation because I wasn’t marching.

The catch is . . . in each of those examples, the consumers knew that they were paying more than retail price.  It was obvious.

What has gotten the secondary market in trouble, is that their web domination has confused patrons, and they’ve used tactics like bots to get an unfair advantage over the consumer.

But if we could restore that balance, and the secondary market had to inform people who/what they were, then they might actually see a boost in their business.

Like the Post Office.

After two years of being a bicoastal couple, I just moved my wife back to NYC from LA.  We packed up and shipped out 25 boxes, several by the USPS.

And I didn’t send one of those boxes from an actual post office.  Instead, I went to this small shipping store just a block away from her apartment in Noho, that had “Authorized USPS Store” stickers on their windows.

Yep, they were a secondary market seller for the post office.  For just a few bucks more (which they disclosed to me when I went to pay), they’d ship anything we wanted via USPS.  And for me, it was worth the extra money to save some time and my back, from lugging those boxes the 10 minutes away (in LA traffic) to the nearest post office.

It was more convenient for me to use the secondary seller.

Just like for so many, ticket resellers are worth the service fee too.

Imagine what would happen if Brokers had “Authorized Broadway Seller” stamps on their websites, or maybe even a storefront or two.  Consumers would have a choice . . . and many would probably be happy to shell out the extra bucks for the convenience, the hard-to-get tickets, and the extra special service.

There is a way for the primary and secondary markets to work together, just like they do in the shipping market, or the retail market (Authorized Apple reseller, etc.).

And if we can figure it out, stocks for both sellers would be on every trader’s “Buy” list.

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  • Sometimes, reselling is even reasonable, in the fact of policies that limit the ability to exchange tickets to subscribers. You purchase a ticket, and sometime comes up that makes it so you can’t see the show. You resell the ticket at what you paid, and buy a new ticket.

    There’s also gifting tickets — which again is the equivalent of a resale for $0.

    There’s also donating tickets to charities for something like a charity auction. Again, resale for $0 effectively.

    All are reasonable use cases — and all get broken under the new model. Until there is a no-penalty (and by that I mean — no additional fees — to transfer a ticket into a different name) way to do these, you need a resale market.

  • I’ll add one other thing. Cameron Mackintosh’s approach has a major problem: According to the article I read, “No physical tickets will be issued in advance; instead, patrons will swipe the payment card used to originally purchase their tickets to gain admission into the theater. ”

    So what happens if between the time you purchase your ticket and the time you go to the theatre there is credit card fraud, and you have to have your card reissued with a new number? That’s quite common these days — especially when you purchase online at a ticketing site like Ticketmaster. It also has the potential of disenfranchising those without credit cards — often the youth who we need to get in the theatre in the first place.

    Ken’s ID of showing an ID is reasonable as long as there is a way of addressing legitimate transfers, gifts, and donations. The credit card idea is a bad one.

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