Overwhelmed by the increasing demand for sports cards, Target has announced that it will temporarily stop selling MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards in its retail stores.
Amid an unprecedented boom in the sports card industry, Target, Walmart and other retail stores have been besieged by dealers and collectors cleaning out their shelves and buying all of the latest boxes of sports cards as soon as the shelves are stocked. Reports have surfaced in recent months of buyers waiting in line for hours to purchases boxes of sports cards so they can resell them on the secondary market.
Target previously posted signs in its stores limiting customers to two or three boxes of cards per person, but those policies did little to curb the demand. The company began posting signs in its stores on Wednesday notifying customers of the suspension.
Target officials declined to field questions from SCD about the issue, but released the following statement on Thursday:
"The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority," a statement from Target spokesman Konnor Schmaltz said. "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."
The move comes a week after a man was attacked in a Target parking lot in Wisconsin over sports trading cards and pulled a gun on the suspects. Four suspects were arrested following the incident, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The move led to widespread debate and concern within a hobby that was shaken by the move and disturbed by the developments that led to it. There have been numerous reports of fights and disputes at retail stores in recent months among flippers looking to buy blaster boxes of trading cards to resell on the secondary market.
Sean McElroy of the TTM Cast podcast wondered if the hobby was pricing kids out of the market, a move that could be damaging to the health of the hobby long-term.
"In the long-term, could this business go downhill because you are taking out the regular collector and you're basically telling them this is just for investors or people who have money who can do this?" he said on the show's May 15 episode.
"Who can afford $2,000 a box for a hobby box? I don't know too many people who can walk into a store and just plow down $2,000."
"We need to make it fun for the regular collector as well as the 40- or 50-year-old guy and as well as the 10-year-old kid," TTM host Jeff Baker said. "I think it's incumbent on the manufacturers working with the distributors, working with the hobby shops to keep the fun in the hobby."
The issue also sparked plenty of commentary and debate on social media.
— Greg Bates contributed to this story.