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What this St. Louis ticket broker does when he can't sell tickets

When he did have tickets to sell, Cotton's operation was strictly old school: an in-person meeting, often sealed with a handshake
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — With his closely trimmed white beard, Brian Cotton is a familiar figure outside St. Louis sports events and concerts, where he has been buying and selling tickets for almost 40 years.

But with concerts canceled and the Blues, Billikens, Battlehawks and Cardinals on hiatus, he has nothing to sell.

"If you can't buy, you can't sell," said Cotton, who operates as Cotton's Tickets.

Cotton isn't overly stressed. He has always had side jobs. "You always have to have something else," he said.

These days he's a freelance general contractor, doing demolitions, landscaping and dry wall. He's licensed and bonded, but at age 65, he hires younger workers to do most of the labor. "When you get to be my age, you just have to be able to point your finger" to show them what to do.

When he did have tickets to sell, Cotton's operation was strictly old school: an in-person meeting, often sealed with a handshake.

As for sales, Cotton said he used to be able to clear $80,000 or more in a good year. "Easy," he said, "easy."

But those days are long gone. Online sales and legalized scalping in St. Louis flooded the market with tickets and price competition.

"Nothing is what it used to be," he said. "It was good when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were going for that home run thing, but now you can get into a Cubs game for $10."

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