Gotta Catch em’ All Over Again

Image courtesy of Zachary Barry.

It goes without saying that 2020 and 2021 were years of unprecedented lifestyle changes for a good number of people across the world. The struggles and tragedy of the last 12 months have created a void in many lives leaving many seeking happiness in the simple pleasures— whether that be ordering a favorite meal to be delivered, starting a new hobby, or collecting brightly colored cards depicting Japanese cartoon monsters.
Just when the days of carefully sealing Pokémon cards in plastic sheets seemed to be over, a global pandemic sent the world reeling and left many isolated individuals seeking the comfort of childhood hobbies. Pokémon cards have been flying off the virtual shelves and into the hands of an adoring public, so much so that earlier in the month it was announced that more cards need to be printed to meet the demand. According to Nintendo, they are “reprinting impacted products at maximum capacity to ensure more fans can enjoy the Pokémon TCG [trading card game].”

As if online retailers selling out of the trading cards wasn’t enough, to mark the 25th anniversary of the addicting collectible cards, Nintendo partnered with McDonald’s to create special Pokémon Happy Meals that would feature new cards. These meals sold out rapidly with card scalpers buying many of the meals to sell the cards online to eager buyers. But, the online demand doesn’t stop with scalped McDonald’s cards.

This classic economic case of low supply versus record-high demand has causes trading card prices on websites like eBay to explode into the $300,000 range and above. According to eBay, Pokémon card sales have risen by 60% between January and September of 2020, and this trend seems to be continuing into 2021. Joe Maddalena the vice president of Heritage Auctions in Texas sold a Charizard card for $300,000 in 2020, which is 18.75 times more than the same product would have sold for in 2019 before COVID hit the United States.

Anime and gaming nerds are not the only ones to revisit the trading card craze of their youth; sports fanatics are also buying up cards in droves. Baseball cards are selling at a record pace as isolated collectors are cleaning attics, looking for hobbies, and online shopping to fill their days. Many people are also finding themselves with disposable income to spend on collectibles as bars, restaurants, and stores are closed. Collectors of baseball cards are spending in the hundreds of dollars, sometimes into the thousands, for individual cards on the internet. Just like Pokémon TCG, baseball card prices have been on the rise throughout the pandemic with an unknown end to the record demand.

If any Mines students are looking to unload trading cards, or supplement their income, selling online could be a way to earn tens, if not hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the rarity and condition of the product, as the card craze continues. So, go forth and collect (or sell) some old memorabilia.

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