By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A year ago at this time, the Final Four was approaching, and a local ticket broker Ticket King was humming.

“The Final Four, it’s stressful, you’re spinning tickets, you know, maybe you start feeling sorry for yourself having to work all these long hours,” Ticket King owner Mike Nowakowski said. “I would kill for those days.”

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Because the night the NBA announced Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, Ticket King came to a screeching halt.

“And then all of a sudden, it was just an avalanche of canceled events, postponed events,” Nowakowski said.

And with that comes tough decision. When you don’t know when business will resume, do you have to consider laying off loyal employees?

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“Our employees have been with us a long time, and they’ve been loyal to us. So, you know, out of the fact that, A, I’m a nice guy, B, I appreciate the loyalty, it’s very hard for us to take a step of … actually laying people off,” Nowakowski said. “We haven’t done that yet. We’ve dipped into every bucket of money we could possibly access to keep … the company afloat.”

And what he’s learned is becoming just as important as what is ahead of him — that surviving means localizing, and taking care of one another.

“This is a good wake-up call for everyone that we need to keep our business in Minnesota whenever we can. Even if it’s a little less convenient. Even if it costs a couple extra bucks. Why send our money to California, New York,” he said.

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Mike Max