Trading card values skyrocket, leading to investments and conflicts

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A battle over trading cards led Target to withdraw most of its stock from shelves.

Trading card values have skyrocketed, Vice reports. This has led to buyers loitering around big box stores and even getting into fights.

Last week, Wisconsin police said a man pulled a gun during one of these fights over Pokémon cards. Target has since pulled its stock out of an “abundance of caution,” according to a statement from the store.

Despite the tensions, however, many in Central Illinois buy into the new trend.

Wes Williams said he collected sports trading cards as a kid.

“I got back into it recently because of the spike in prices and how you can make money off the boxes,” Williams said.

Williams, a Bloomington resident, said flipping cards can be very lucrative. Friday morning, May 14, Williams spent $180 on football cards. He chose not to disclose which store he purchased from, but said it was a Walmart. He said he can get hundreds more in profit from his purchase.

You make 4 or 5x whatever you spend in the store on the aftermarket, whether it be eBay or Facebook or wherever,” Williams said.

The Guardian reported the rising potential threat to staff at Target stores as more and more customers waited hours, even overnight, for cards.

Williams said he has seen fights break out here in Central Illinois as well.

“I’ve been threatened before over little things, and I can’t imagine what the actual vendors or store people go through,” Williams said.

To learn why the value of trading cards, particularly Pokémon cards, has risen so much, WMBD spoke with Dan Crawford, owner of Cabbages and Kings Games in Peoria Heights.

“It is a crazy market, there’s a lot of factors of why the popularity is here,” Crawford said. “One of them is we had our 25th anniversary for Pokémon. And we had people involved in it like Post Malone; did a big song and thing for Nintendo Inc.”

 “We also have scarcity in product because of distribution and also manufacturing,” Crawford continued. “So there’s a lot less of it to go around than normal. And then nostalgia. We have all these– with these 25 years– we have all these parents who are getting their kids back into it. We’re seeing new people everyday who are enjoying the game.”  

Crawford said that another big reason the trade has gone mainstream is because of famous YouTube streamers like Logan Paul. Paul helped inflate the price of Pokemon cards after spending at least $25,000 on first edition boxes, then opening them while doing a livestream.

Crawford said big moves like this essentially control the market.

“Let’s say there’s 3,000 of a card and I decide one day I have enough money; I want to buy most of it. Then I get to set the price,” Crawford said.

The driving force behind inflation is the scarcity of the product.

Williams said some are trying to make this business their livelihood.

“Boxes like this, 20 of them come at a time and it’s usually in a case,” Williams said. “And this is a $20 product, and you sell it anywhere from $80-100. So if you can get 20 of these at $100, you’re netting $800 in profit. So that’s more than most people make in a week.”

Despite the contention Williams has witnessed, he said he will still buy and sell trading cards.

“I’ve made some money on the side, it’s a nice side hustle. So I’ll probably continue,” Williams said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local News

More Local News