Trading a Box of Candy for a Ticket to See Wicked
After some success buying surplus tickets outside of music venues, I saw on Craigslist that the musical "Wicked" was in Sacramento for two weeks. It was a sold out show. This was a different category of show, a Broadway show with ticket prices ranging from $40 to $300. I wanted to try my sign technique again, but I certainly wasn't going to pay $100 for a ticket. Instead I had the idea to arrive with something to trade: A box of chocolates.
I was in love with this idea, but Craigslist was discouraging. The sold-out show was inspiring rampant price escalation. The ads there weren't from people who were selling tickets, they were from people who wanted tickets.
My trump card was that I didn't care if I didn't get into the show. I wasn't meeting my cousin at the show, I wasn't going to be singing the songs in the car with my friends. I would go and try to pick up a ticket that didn't have a home, to fill a seat for a bargain price.
I was the only person in the candy store that warm June evening after work, buying a one pound box of candy for $16.90.
I showed up early with a box of candy, an empty wallet and a large sign: NEED WICKED TICKET.
I wondered what impression I was making on the people walking by. I believe that by standing there, advertising my desire, I was reinforcing the value of their tickets, making them more precious, enhancing the experience. I was the guy outside of the club who couldn't get in, and they were VIPs being whisked into a side entrance.
After 15 minutes I spotted a guy in the distance, pointing at me, his face indicating that we had a connection of some kind. When he reached me, he told me his story.
"That's what I should have done!"
He had brought his wife and two daughters, and an exchange student from Holland. He had bought four tickets yesterday, but couldn't find a fifth. He needed one more, and he didn't have a sign. He did, however, have money.
"I bought tickets yesterday for $120 (each). I assumed I'd be able to get another one today, but it sold out!"
He gave me a little breathing room, sensing that he'd be poaching my sellers if he spoke up when someone approached. His wife and kids looked really nervous that they wouldn't be able to find a fifth ticket. I assured them that this "always works".
Curtain time drew closer. I texted my wife, "This might fail".
At about 6 minutes until showtime, a couple of tickets showed up. First, a guy approached me and told me that his brother would be arrive soon with an extra ticket.. and that he would probably let it go for half price. I smiled, explaining the chocolates and pointing out the other guy looking for a ticket, "He has money".
As those two parties got together for a transaction, the leader of a group of women approached me to find out if I wanted to buy their extra ticket.
"Actually, I'm trying to trade this box of See's candy."
She considered it for a moment. "I'll be right back".
After a moment's debate with her friends, she returned. "Ok. It's a deal".
I handed over the box of candy and recieved one ticket in return. I ditched my sign under a nearby park bench and returned to enter the theatre. The seats were assigned, and I had just obtained a great one, 20 rows back and dead center. The price was on the ticket: $75.
It was a spectacular show. I can't say I'm a big musical fan, but I do have some display experience, and I'm a fan of stagecraft and costuming. Getting to see the animated Oz head was worth the price of admission.
During intermission, they cracked open the candy and passed it around. See's candy was a treat which matched the luxury of this event perfectly. I almost didn't accept one, but changed my mind and had one in the end. When's the next time I'm going to try a $5 piece of candy?
It was an awesome show and a quick adventure. Thanks ladies!