US retailers Walmart and Target have suspended in-store sales of Pokemon cards and other trading cards, due to safety concerns caused by a huge upsurge in demand.As reported by Bleeding Cool, a sign spotted by a customer in New York notes that Target will no longer sell MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon Trading Cards as of May 14th “to ensure the safety of our guests and team members.” It’s clear that renewed interest in the scene is having a negative effect on in-store conduct, amid an uptick in scalping.
Target is no longer selling Pokémon cards in stores “to ensure the safety of our guests and team members.” pic.twitter.com/lpV0pyw8oA
— Nintendeal (@Nintendeal) May 13, 2021
That demand has led not just to bad behaviour, but real crime. Vice reports that a fight related to trading cards in a Wisconsin Target parking lot recently led to a gun being drawn, but thankfully not used. Last month in Brunswick, Maine, News Center reports that $20,000 of sports trading cards were stolen.
Those increasingly serious events have clearly led to the suspension of sales. Bleeding Cool received a statement from Target saying: “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.”
Similar notices have reportedly been issued in Walmart, with a sign shared in a Facebook Magic the Gathering group noting that “the trading card categories have been removed from the sales floor and sales of these items have been suspended due to inappropriate customer behaviour and increased demand.” The note suggests that stores have been asked to no longer stock trading cards like Pokemon ahead of “further direction from management.”
Trading cards have seen a massive boom over the past year. There’s been a surge of renewed interest as rare pack openings and trading card content has flooded onto YouTube and Twitch. In January of this year, a Pokemon TCG Booster Box sold at auction for $408,000, and McDonald’s also had to “strongly encourage” its stores not to sell multiple packs of Pokemon 25th Anniversary cards to customers in February to prevent scalping.