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Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Guy
Well, it didn't just happen to him, and he's not just nice, but smart as hell. My friend Jim McCarthy has hit New York -- with the company he started with a couple of buddies, Goldstar Events, which sells half-price tickets to everything from theater to massage (only the clean kind at this time). Here's the story in The New York Times by Roy Furchgott:

After four years of honing its unusual marketing plan in other cities, Goldstar Events is officially opening its New York Web site today, offering steep discounts on tickets to shows, sports events, comedy clubs, lectures and concerts. Mr. McCarthy estimates that Goldstar’s entry into New York could double its revenue to $3 million next year.

The task is not easy. First the company has to convince the “seen it all” managers of theaters and arenas in New York that discounting surplus tickets is good for business. It also has to get discounts on popular shows that attract audiences big enough to justify the price cuts. In short, Goldstar has to please two groups with contrary interests. “We are not in this to advance the arts,” Mr. McCarthy said. “We are glad we do, but we are a business. Ultimately, we must provide value.”

Goldstar has 263,000 members. These people sign up online ( for one of Goldstar’s eight metro areas. A personalized start page shows events in the region. Members can also browse other Goldstar markets or request e-mail alerts for specific offers like jazz concerts.

Tickets are bought online and usually picked up at the box office. The money goes to the theater or arena. Goldstar makes its profit from a service fee, which averages $4.

Goldstar is unusual for working the opposite end of the spectrum from most ticket services. Brokers, for instance, buy high-demand tickets and sell them at a premium. Sites like let people sell tickets at prices the market will bear, and sites like eBay let people auction to the highest bidder. Goldstar deals in events that have weak demand or surplus tickets. Even hit shows almost always have leftover seats.

Goldstar does not compete with ticket brokers; in fact, brokers have been largely unaware it exists. “It sounds like it is something new,” said Russell Lindmark, president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. “It’s a can’t-lose for the venues.”

Most of Goldstar (97 percent of it) is owned by Mr. McCarthy and his partners, the chief financial officer and president, Richard Webster, and the chief technology officer, Robert Graff. It evolved from a failed venture called Ticket Club, for which Mr. Graff was a consultant. Ticket Club’s aim, he said, was to stem losses at failing shows by unloading tickets cheaply or even free, helping theaters make up for losses with food and drink sales. But there was not a big market for unpopular tickets. After Ticket Club shut down, Mr. Graff rethought the concept, and consulted a neighbor he had worked with before, Mr. McCarthy.

“Jim’s idea was to do the opposite the Ticket Club was doing,” Mr. Graff said. Instead of focusing on events with weak demand, Mr. McCarthy said the money was in selling leftover tickets to popular shows. “Like the of tickets,” Mr. Graff said.

Hey, New Yorkers, sign up (free!) here, for your shot at cheap (or sometimes free, with a small service charge) theater and events. What kind of theater and events? From the Times article above:

Goldstar offers a wide variety of entertainment. Recent promotions have included $25 tickets to see the rock band Alice in Chains in Chicago, and $7 tickets to a speed-dating event at a restaurant in Arlington, Va. Some of Goldstar’s better-known partners, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Philharmonic, declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

P.S. Goldstar's other cities (and areas) include Los Angeles, SF, San Diego, Orange County, San Jose, Chicago, Washington, D.C, Boston, and Las Vegas.

Posted by aalkon at November 21, 2006 9:38 AM

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