While some businesses are finding a way to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic, the struggle has been real for others. 517 Magazine sat down with 2019 Greater Lansing Entrepreneur of the Year Brian Posey, president and CEO of the Ticket Machine, for a very real talk on everything COVID.
Let’s remind our readers what the Ticket Machine is.
The Ticket Machine buys and sells sporting event and concert tickets nationwide. We’re located in Okemos and have been in business for over 20 years.
How had COVID-19 affected the Ticket Machine?
COVID completely shut our business down immediately. We are probably at 1% of our usual sales since then. Initially I had to furlough all six of my employees, but with our pivot, I was able to rehire four of them at least part time.
The most difficult and disturbing thing that I didn’t expect was getting money back from games not played from both professional teams and colleges. Many of them tried to keep money that was owed to us, which made things very hard.
The struggle is obviously very real. How are you staying positive and staying open?
It was certainly tough to stay positive, but I really felt for my employees and their families. I knew I could not sit on my hands. We reallocated a few things and started a new business. We began buying sneakers and high-end and hard-to-find clothing. There are many similarities to selling tickets, so it was somewhat of a natural progression. It is certainly more of a grind and a lot harder than I thought it would be. We are also investing in trading cards, which over the past two years has made an incredible comeback.
What do you see for the future of the Ticket Machine?
Most importantly, for the health of everyone, we need to get a vaccine — and it looks like we are on our way to that. There have been many people and businesses that have suffered great, devastating loss, and ours pales in comparison.
Once we have the vaccine really moving, we can certainly see the slow progress to getting fans back into venues and enjoying things they love to do. We may even continue to grow our new businesses and expand that.