Some Target Stores Limiting Sports Card Quantities

Target card section retail Prizm basketball cards

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.

Target retail store limiting quantity on baseball football and basketball cards

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.

Target limiting quantity for retail baseball football and basketball cards

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.

Looking for baseball, basketball or football cards? Visit my eBay Store for low prices on vintage singles, hot prospects, rookies, and more.

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.

2019-20 NBA Hoops and 2020 Prizm Football blaster boxes

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

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42 thoughts on “Some Target Stores Limiting Sports Card Quantities

  1. Interesting. You are a hypocrite. Just months ago you blocked me on Twitter because you supported flipping and I disagreed with you. Now here you are saying you are fine with limits. Which is it?

    1. Unfortunately all the prizm this yr is being back doored……being resold by the jordan holdings vendor or exell vendors they are not hitting shelves

    2. I have been in the hobby for years and am ok with limited quantities we all should be able to enjoy the hobby not just those trying to make money at it.

  2. It’s a joke – collectors can’t buy cards at retail anymore – resellers have flexible schedules and but all the cards when they are delivered to the store. Walmart and Target are enabling this – card companies aren’t concerned about collectors. I’ve been collecting for decades and can’t buy a pack of cards to open. Boycott Target Boycott Walmart!

    1. I live in burillington south jersey I can’t find a target or walmart that has any sports cards in stock its disgusting ..they need to get somebody competent enough two stock these stores all they have on the shelves or the Pokemon and the other kids card games

  3. Yes, I work at a Target in Texas and there are days where there is a line of 20 people or so. I have even heard that one guest even followed the vendor to different targets and even followed him home. If there wasn’t a limit or system of obtaining these cards then there would for sure be a quarrel between collectors.

  4. Personally, I believe if one can afford to buy as many as one wants ,why not? Rarely would you get a good card with one per customer or just 2!

  5. Why don’t they just raise the prices and meet the demand? And are people really making money in these things? Every time I buy a box of cards I end up getting garbage and I regret the 20 or 30 dollars I dropped

    1. I take it you haven’t bought cards online in a while… These scumish flippers will take every 19.99 blaster box clear the entire shelf. Go back to their moms basement and list them for $43. I’m all about getting your hussle on but c’mon!!

      1. Reality that is on the retailer than, they need to limit the amount people buy or just raise prices, in the US it is about making money and f—g your fellow man so if those flippers have found a way to make money I can’t blame them

    2. I’m not sure that would help, plus for people like me who barely make enough to afford rent, how is that helping my kid who’d like a chance to get some of his favorite players. Remember you’d be raising prices to meet the demand of the flippers. Companies would love it but it’s not really fair to us poor!

  6. Limiting retail I don’t think will work anyways, the thing that is hard for average collectors is having to buy a retail box online for $60 from the guy who cleaned the shelf for $20 boxes at wally world. Everyone is cleaning shelves not to collect but to make money by overcharging. I don’t collect but I do have an online card shop where I sell cards and yes I like making money but ripping people off, especially kids is B S. Those of you doing this should fall back some, let the collectors get in line, give a kid your spot and stop being greedy.

  7. “If they didn’t limit quantities I would not have had any cards to rip, and that is likely the case for many others.” Well thats just too bad; too slow to punch buddy!

  8. I’ve purchased cards at Walmart the last 20 years, as a set builder. Never had a problem buying card packs or boxes until 2020, most of product never hit the shelves. Product that I was able to purchase was not near enough to complete a set and I’m not going to pay the high price on the secondary market. But that is fine I would rather be able to buy a few packs and boxes rather then see the mass production of the late 80s, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed when I open a few packs from a hot product.

  9. I’m often annoyed that I can’t go pick up 3-4 blaster boxes at Walmart or Target, because there all gone the second they hit the shelf. Maybe the retail stores should put them behind a cashier (like cigarettes and tobacco products) and put a $100 maximum purchase per customer per day. Giving collectors a chance to at least get some. And restocking by the vendors should be different days and times always, never the same day and times week to week. The way things are now, online sellers jack up the price and dealers in hobby stores jack up the price too. No fair to us collectors that have jobs and can’t follow the vendors around store to store cornering the market of retail cards.

  10. I’m all in for Limiting each person to 3 or 4 items.
    Target & Walmart near me are bone dry & kid’s can’t find packs to open.

  11. This is literally what happened with sneakers as flippers using bots have auto-piloted buying them online seconds after release. Your local sneaker shops (Footlocker, FootAction, Champs…) now use their respective App’s raffle system. So does the Nike SNKRS app which uses a draw. I’ve been collecting since I was 11 then stopped my second year into college. Mid-2020 my interest was renewed by my own son’s interest in Pokemon cards (also being bought out by flippers).

    If flippers want to make money I think they ought to buy Hobby boxes and cases and sell locally like their LCS. Retail was really meant to be a filler between your LCS stops, while you stopped for milk.

    What makes me sick is that even our Local Card Shop’s are sending their guys to Target and Walmart to buy up the stock! One Walmart employee said the truck driver and the one guy who buys up all the Prizm’s, any basketball, and sought after baseball packs/booster boxes actually have formed a relationship and they usually come in together.

    I hate seeing my son’s face when we discover that all three Walmarts have been ransacked by these flippers! I’m all for purchase limits. Heck, if you wanted buy more, just bring more friends!

  12. Iam just a novice collector, I just enjoy opening a few packs with my kids, but I can’t afford $60/or $70 at a card store. Its unfair for people to be greedy and take all the cards than turn around and get 5x the money. Greed is not good, fairness is

  13. I live in Madison and you are right….. The targets and Wal-Marts are always picked clean. I have gotten lucky a few times but there is never anything to buy.

    1. Same here, when there is only a few boxes left I get the feeling they are garbage boxes as I am sure the people who bought up all the boxes when they put them out returned the boxes they assumed nothing good would be in because they already pulled the valuable insert cards that I am sure they only put a small amount of in each case

  14. I live in upstate NY. Some (but not all) Targets have a laminated sign hanging on the card section that says “limit 2 items per customer per day.” Think that works? No! I bought 3 packs of 2020 Update BB (that’s all they had!) And no one stopped me.
    This industry is out of control, its simply unaffordable. But…supply and demand. Simple economics.
    On the other hand, MOST of the time a $20 blaster doesn’t even produce $10 worth of quality, so at some point all of us have to question the sense in buying them on eBay for $50, $60 whatever…

  15. these greedy flippers are ruining the hobby I put myself in their shoes once and couldn’t hold the feeling of greed in for more than a couple minutes sad lock the cards in with the razors and limit purchases never in my 51 years of existence have I not been able to buy packs at retail until 2020 I don’t even look for packs and boxes at Walmart or target anymore I look for flippers creeps

  16. I do not give one inkling of care about sports cards. We are in a great boom, but give it a couple of years and they will crash again. They should only limit in the sense that if there are ‘X’ people waiting when it is being stocked then you can buy ‘1/X’ of the product so there is no fights at that time. All stocking at Walmart and Targets are done by a third party vendor (STOP PESTERING YOUR LOCAL EMPLOYEES) .that based on store sales visits 1-4 times a month. I have worked at one of these retailers for a long time and the faster these sell the faster they get replenished. I you make your allotment last more than a day you are delaying your replenishment.

  17. It’s one thing if demand is high because a product is really good and there’s just not enough product produced to go around. I get that. It’s the fact that a small percentage of people are buying up as much product at once and MAKING IT to be in demand. We’re talking “retail” product. That means mass quantities of it is produced to put in “retail” stores so it’s basically available everywhere.
    Hey, it’s America, no law is being broken and who am I to deny someone to make some serious coin, right? Now, while hoarding and creating a demand is a douchey move to the people who only want A box or A pack (especially against kids), one can’t just lay all the heat on those people. In order for that product to get flipped, someone has to actually bid on/buy it. If one really hates what’s happening, don’t bid on/buy that stuff being put out for sale. Let those hoarders keep their hoard. Otherwise, you’re enabling them to keep the cycle going, and that’s a fact. Wait out the flippers and eventually it’ll get back to normal, patience being a virtue and all that jazz. Do that and you’ll start to see comments about what great cards people pulled out of packs, instead of “OMG! I got a box of cards for only $30 OVER retail price!”
    If you’re getting excited about how much you OVERPAID, then something is obviously wrong.

  18. I, too, work at Target. I can’t believe how self-centered every comment each of you have posted. Instead of following the vendor around, because you know their schedule, come in to a Target store on a Saturday afternoon when a 10-yr old kid just thinks getting a pack of cards for his birthday would be cool. But when he sees the shelves are bare because of your greed, he’s left disappointed or even in tears! That’s where limits matter, because these kids just think it’s cool to get a card from their favorite player!

  19. I don’t have 2k to buy sports cards every week. So flippers are pricing me out of this hobby. I am not the only one, and when we leave this hobby for something else. It takes decades for us to come back. So flipper be aware.

  20. I get it. Scalpers suck. But I too find myself just clearing or grabbing as much as I can off the shelves if I get the chance to. I’ll go through 20 stores before I’m ever lucky to hit the motherload. And when I do, you can expect I’m gonna take what I can bc I’ll never know when I’ll find more. It’s a vicious cycle. If I don’t get it, I know the next person will clean it out. If possible. I normally leave a box or two if there is anything to leave. Everything I take I usually share it with family members at retail price and others who are also looking for it. For people I don’t know, I sell it at market price bc getting the product is so difficult. At the end of the day, it’s a dog eat dog world.

  21. I tell you these flippers are scoundrels. Even worse some of them dont even care for the hobby just the money. Some dont even follow sports period. Just low life bums who dont have anything better to do with their day & got word of a new hustle to make money. I mean I have a day job & on my days off I do try to fet lucky myself & check out wallys or targets. Also some of these flippers are in cahoots with the vendor, I seen this the vendor signals a flipper waiting for his arrival & while roling his cart to gl stock the display this flipper is walking with & pulling out hthe vendors cart already. All the vwndor newds to donis provide a picture of the display made at each store. Bit that can easily be fabricated. So vendors are making side money too smh.. here in So Cal we have a weekly coloectibles show called Feank & Sons. There are card vendors/local card store owners there selling hobby boxes. But why is it i see people going up to this vendor, the biggest one there, pulling red wagons of boxes. These flippers are clearing the racks & then going to this vendor & selling him like 50 blaster boxes & 50 hangers & 100 celos. Whicj in tirn this vendors adds his markup & sells em at his price. Im telljng u I seen like 3 or 4 different guys come up to his booth with boxes full of blisters etc. this flipper stuff is way outta control YES WALLYS TARGET PLEASE DO PUT A LIMIT OF THESE ITEMS.

  22. I’ve been searching for three months, countless hours finding stores in a 50 mile range. Only to find the shelf’s with nothing to show but empty box holders. I’m sick of this. I shouldn’t have to wait in line for vendors or ask a manager when they will be restocking every trip. There should be a limit right now so everyone can get a chance to buy a box or two! How the grinch stole my holiday joy.

  23. Interesting I am a little confused though in regards to the employee saying “good stuff is in here.”
    We’re you limited or were you not. It’s confusing seems like you got your pack and box but then were able to grab something else that wasn’t even put out (which I also don’t understand). Can you explain that part?

    1. The employee did not say that. The employee (a security guard) said: “there are also cards here.” Everyone was limited to one of each product, one pack of NBA Hoops, one blaster box of NBA Hoops, one blaster box of Prizm football, etc. The store had security watching the box on the side because inside was the products that everyone was seeking, so it was easier to police the quantity restriction.

  24. Targets try and limit buyers where I live in upstate NY but here is the issue. They don’t have the cards behind a counter, nor do they have someone monitoring it. I watched a college kid walk out with 3 bags full of blasters as I was walking in. I grabbed 3 blasters and scanned them in and this employee actually came up to me and said I had to pick one so he can remove it from my bill since it is 2 per person. I just laughed. I respect if they will limit but they must be consistent. Another issue (especially with people being more difficult to recognize with masks on ) is that people bring 3 changes of clothes and change in the store parking lot… I’ve seen it it’s hilarious. Different coat, hat and mask. It’s either this or they somehow manage to bring their entire extended family with them to purchase the entire stock anyway. So no matter what they will figure out a loop hole. Meanwhile since I don’t carry extra out fits with me in my car in order to change into like a tool or have access to 10 friends or family members to come to the store at all times, I just end up being the grown ass man who is limited to buying 2 items of cards while the flippers still get what they want and flip anyway. Nobody’s fault, just reality.

  25. I disagree with putting limits on how many packs you can buy. I disagree for two reasons. First sports cards are not a necessity item. Basically you don’t need sports cards to live. The next reason is it makes it even more difficult to get good cards from the packs. Say an autograph card’s odds are 1:36 packs. It is gonna be harder to get one if you are only allowed to buy one pack at a time instead of ten. If you can’t get your hands on cards because the target or Wal-Mart you go too is always out well maybe you should find a new hobby or learn to go somewhere other than a big box stores to get cards. Those of you complaining that you couldn’t get cards last year because your walmart or target was always out well listen…really listen…are you listening? There is this great thing called the internet that allows you to buy cards directly from the manufacturer. I know it is mind blowing isn’t it? Like seriously putting purchase limits on the lowest end sets is dumb. It’s like do you know how dumb a target employee sounds when they say yeah those 4 dollar packs of cards you can only buy one a day. Sports card collecting has always been a you snooze you lose hobby.

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