In a recent statement, US retail giant Target announced that out of an "abundance of caution" Pokemon, MLB and NFL trading cards will no longer be sold.
The decision comes after an incident in the Target parking lot in Brookfield Wisconsin on May 7th where a man pulled a gun during a fight over Pokemon trading cards. The re-sale value of Pokemon cards in particular has increased exponentially. The company said, "The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA, and Pokémon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com.”
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Why has the value of trading cards increased?
During the pandemic as Gen X and Millenials were stuck at home they started playing Pokemon cards again, a game they grew up with. The renewed interest in the cards led to an increase in their value. At an auction a few months ago a US first edition base set from 1999 sold for approximately $400,000. In 2019, the asking price for a single original Charizard card in mint condition was $16,000. In January 2020, the card sold for $300,000. In October last year a live stream deal to purchase a sealed first edition box of Pokemon cards, reportedly valued at $375 thousand, ended in disaster as the set turned out to be fake.
Influencers, rare cards, and unboxing NFTs
Popular social media influencer Logan Paul has significantly contributed to the rise in popularity of the cards. In March this year paul hosted a live stream event where he opened 12 holographic cards that are valued at $2 million. Along with unboxing these rare cards, paul also creates NFTs (non-fungible tokens) of him unboxing the cards. NFT are digital assets that can also function as collectibles. In February he sold $5 million worth of NFTs.
The Pokemon Company vs card scalpers
The Pokemon Company recently released expansion packs Chilling Reign and Eevee Heroes for the Pokemon Trading Card Game. The release was chaotic and caused a lot of frustration among fans as most of the packs were purchased by sellers using bots and scripts. They were sold out within seconds and fans were unable to purchase any product. The company has apologized to the community and in a statement said, "We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers who were not able to purchase items. We will give top priority to delivering the desired products to our customers, continue to strengthen our production system, and promote the reproduction and shipment of missing products."
In order to combat scalpers, The Pokemon Company (TPC) has decided to implement a lottery system when selling Pokemon cards online, "In response to this situation, we will carefully consider the sales method again so that customers can purchase safely, and we will not sell the following target products at Pokemon Center / Pokemon Store, but will sell them by lottery at Pokemon Center Online."
May experts and critics believe that the Pokemon card trading market is currently overinflated and as the hype dies down there will inevitably be a crash. As of now, the value of these cards has exploded.
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Featured image: The Pokemon Company International
1. May 2021, H. Sullivan, "US Target stores to stop selling Pokémon cards after rising value prompts threats to staff ", The Guardian [available online] available from: https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/may/13/us-target-stores-to-stop-selling-pokemon-cards-after-rising-value-prompts-threats-to-staff [accessed May 2021]
2. May 2021, B. Koepp, "The Pokemon Company is taking drastic measures to stop Pokemon card scalpers", Dexerto, [available online] available from: https://www.dexerto.com/pokemon/the-pokemon-company-is-taking-drastic-measures-to-stop-pokemon-card-scalpers-1572425/ [accessed May 2021]
3. Oct 2020, A. Bland, " How live-streamed $375k deal for Pokémon cards ended in disaster", The Guardian [available online] available from: https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/oct/28/how-live-streamed-375k-deal-for-pokemon-cards-ended-in-disaster [accessed May 2021]