The year 2020 is finally history. Along with a worldwide pandemic, the year also brought another wave of national hysteria around sports trading cards. It was something the hobby had not seen since the early 1990’s.
The “junk wax era,” as it’s become known, brought about massive production to the point cards could be found just about any business from barber shops to grocery stores to gas stations.
It’s a little different this time around and it’s become difficult to find trading cards in retail outlets such as Target and Wal-Mart. Demand is certainly exceeding supply unlike the early 1990’s when supply was rampant and demand would eventually dwindle.
The demand for hot products such as Panini’s Prizm football, or anything basketball has led some stores to limit quantities. Locally, in Madison, Wisconsin, I have counter upwards of 20 people waiting for the card vendor on stock day at Target.
Should stores limit quantities? It’s an interesting question and at the beginning of 2020 it seemed most collectors in the hobby were against the idea of limiting quantity for trading cards. The Twitter account, @cardpolls, asked that very question in March 2020.
Surprising results in hindsight. That Twitter account decided to revisit the topic at the end of the year to test collectors.
What a difference nine months make in the hobby. It’s a hot topic to debate. Some want free reign to products. Others want the ability to buy a box or pack to rip something.
One Target store in Madison has taken some interesting steps to make it a level playing field for collectors looking for cards. On a random trip to a store the week of New Years, I noticed the card area was roped off with a couple security guards nearby. Disclosure: this particular Target is very busy and is the closest retail store to the University of Wisconsin. Security is always on duty, so this was not a special occasion to monitor baseball cards.
As I approached the card section I asked if the vendor was stocking. One security guard holding an iPad said, yes, and explained the procedure. Those wanting a chance to purchase cards checked in by providing their name and phone number. Then they would be put in line and once the card section was fully stocked those customers would receive a text message in the order they checked in.
That is the initial text message I received. We were not allowed to loiter near the cards, so everyone did other shopping or browsed electronics, toys, etc. About 45 minutes later I was alerted that it was my turn in line.
You walk up to the employee that checked you in standing near the cards and were allowed one box or pack per product. The only thing I saw on the shelf was Panini Prizm Draft Picks baseball. It wasn’t something I was interested in buying, but grabbed a pack and blaster since I waited this long.
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As I turned to walk away, the employee said there are also cards in this box. That is where the good stuff was. I was able to get the last blaster of NBA Hoops and even a pack of Prizm Football.
Personally, I am for this practice. If they didn’t limit quantities I would not have had any cards to rip, and that is likely the case for many others. What are your thoughts? Do you think all Target and Wal-Mart stores should limit quantities on trading cards?
UPDATE (5/13/21): Target pauses sports card sales