Are you unemployed? Or stuck in a job you hate? Trying desperately to break into the sports industry despite not having any business skills, athletic ability, or an eighth-grade education? Don’t give up just yet. There’s still one avenue you probably haven’t tried: ticket scalping! Follow these easy steps, and you’ll be exploiting your fellow fans in no time!
Step #1:Buy a Pair of Mirrored Sunglasses. March yourself down to the closest drugstore and buy the cheapest pair of reflective shades you can find. From now on, these are you uniform, and you’ll never be taking them off. Nighttime, poorly lit bars, the shower stall at the local truck stop where you bathe…these are all perfectly acceptable contexts for mirrored sunglasses now that you’re a scalper.
Your new shades serve a dual purpose: they keep potential customers from seeing your constantly shifting eyes while also hiding the tears that will inevitably well up from time to time due to your miserable existence. Oh, and sunglassesalwaysmake you look super cool.
Step #2:Revamp Your Wardrobe. Go to your closet (or the old wine cooler box where you store your clothes) and toss out anything that was made after 1995. Potential buyers will be skeptical if you look like a fatcat, so if Tony Gwynn couldn’t have worn it during the MLB strike, pitch it. Layer a Members Only jacket over a Hypercolor shirt, and you’re ready to rock. If you really want to become a scalping legend it might not hurt to grow a fuzzy, patchy mustache.
Step #3: Practice Your Pitch. The most important thing about scalping isn’t the price you offer to customers, but the whiny responses you make to their lower counteroffers. Stare at your reflection in a mirror or puddle and work on delivering indignant lines that show just how pitiful the customers’ offers are.
Remember, the most convincing arguments end with “here.” Some suggestions: “Ugh, you’re killing me here!” “You’re really breaking my balls here, you know that?” and “Look, buddy, I’m just trying to make a living here.” (Note: this last one is not true. If you were really trying to make a living here you wouldn’t have dropped out of junior college because you were sure that you’d perfected your NFL gambling system.)
Step #4:Work On Your Marketing. “But wait! I don’t have a lot of money for a marketing plan!” Don’t worry; you don’t need any. Simply use your box cutter – it should go without saying that as a scalper you need to carry a box cutter at all times – to craft a small cardboard sign reading “Need Tickets.”
“But wait! I don’t need tickets; I want to sell them!” Every scalper worth his weight in upper-deck Royals tickets knows that the “Need Tickets” sign is really just a subtle ploy to keep the cops off of your back. Scalping may be illegal in many jurisdictions, but needing tickets? That’s a common problem to which everyone can relate. The beautiful thing about the “Need Tickets” sign is that the police havenever figured out that it really means you’re scalping! What a bunch of chumps, right?
Step #5:Acquire a Seating Chart. If fans are going to buy tickets from you, they’re going to want to know where they’ll be sitting. We know, it’s totally unreasonable of them. They should just be happy you’re willing to sell them tickets for a nominal convenience fee. You’ll need a seating chart for the arena or stadium where you’re planning on selling. Ideally, this chart should have been folded and stuffed into your pocket so many hundred times that it is no longer legible, which will make your promise that “Section 519 is courtside, baby!” seem more reasonable.
Step #6:Hone Your Vocabulary. Like a lot of jobs, scalping has a specialized lingo known only to its practitioners. Luckily for you, it’s pretty easy to learn. The system works as follows:
> “Lower Level” Any seat that’s not on the roof.
> “Together” – The seats are probably located within the same arena, but you don’t want to make any promises.
> “Unobstructed view” – The seats offer a clear, unobstructed view of a reinforced concrete pillar supporting the upper deck.
Step #7:Rob a Liquor Store.Look, nobody said this was going to be easy. To start a business, you’re going to need some operating capital, and this is literally the only way to get it. Don’t feel bad about stealing; this is how Henry Ford got his start. (Probably.) Bust in with guns drawn and clean out the registers. Grab a bottle of root beer schnapps for yourself to help you unwind.
Step #8:Acquire Some Tickets. Take your pilfered cash to the box office and buy up some tickets. How many? A whole mess should do.
Step #9: Hit the Marketplace.It’s game time, baby. Take your sign, your seating chart, and your tickets down to the stadium and mill around outside. As hopeful looking fans approach in search of tickets, hold up your “Need Tickets” sign and loudly say, “I NEED TICKETS!” in case any potential customers can’t read.
Step #10: Revise Their Expectations. So a customer has approached you. Great! You’ve hooked a fish, and now it’s up to you to get him onto the boat. Generally, the customer will ask you what you’ve got. At this point, you should offer them “two seats right on the home dugout, first row.” You could probably let them go for, oh, twelve hundred apiece.
“But wait, I don’t have those tickets!” you’re probably saying. Don’t worry. Nobody but idiots and Lorne Michaels would pay that much for tickets. What you’ve done, though, is raise their price expectations. Now any ticket you offer them will sound like a great deal. They’re actually saving money by not buying those $1200 tix, so why not shell out a little extra?
Step #11:Seal the Deal. Now you’ve got them right where you want them. Offer them a good (terrible) deal on some great (awful) seats. When the buyer inevitably balks, go back to one of the indignant responses you’ve practiced. Let the guy know that he reallyisbreaking your balls. Make him believe it. Make him feel your pain. Then make him give you a hundred bucks for a bleacher seat to a Pirates game.
Make sure you get at least a 50% markup over what you paid for the tickets, but hey, you know what? You like the guy’s face, so you’ll take off five bucks a seat. It always helps to offer some little discount like this to help the buyer feel better about his purchase.
(Note: Put some thought into why you tell customers you’re giving them a break. You may think those Native American customers will appreciate you giving them a discount “from one scalper to another,” but trust us, they won’t.)
Once you’ve got the tickets in the guy’s hand and the money in your wallet, make sure you tell him to enjoy the game. Sure, it’s going to be tough for him to enjoy the game while sitting on a metal folding chair behind an air conditioning duct, but it could happen. At least he’s there seeing it live and in person.
Step #12:Celebrate! You just sold two tickets? Time for a celebration. That’s like twenty dollars pure profit in the bank for you, man. Don’t get too complacent, though. You’ve still got dozens of tickets to hustle for this game. And the next one. And that Bon Jovi show next month. Anybody need tickets?