Why are Pokemon cards again popular all of a sudden?
Popular Japanese media franchise Pokémon has received lots of popularity in recent times due to the surge in the worth of their card collectables.
Fuelled by the amount of free time available due to the pandemic, different new ways to trade online and the nostalgia of the popular franchise, the value of some Pokémon cards in recent months has skyrocketed.
“I kept them because I thought one day these might be worth something and I was right,” said Mark Shininger, who has been collecting Pokémon cards like his peers since he was in grade school.
During the peak of the pandemic last year, 24-year-old Shininger, a mechanical engineer based in Random Lake, Wisconsin, heard about the sales on Pokémon cards online—with some worth thousands of dollars. He then dug up all his old Pokémon collections of Charmander and Pikachu, trading them for almost $5,000.
Now, just like many punters who play online slots to win a jackpot, Pokémon card collectors are hoping to trade in their collectables for money. In 2020, total card sales traded on eBay was a record high of 142 per cent, with Pokémon leading the way with an average sale of five cards every minute, according to reports. This new record beat even the hottest selling card in eBay being baseball cards and the momentum has still carried on this year with sales climbing to over 1,000 per cent.
The new gold rush for Pokémon cards has fuelled an increase in entrepreneurial activity with many individual collectors like Shininger making quite a small fortune selling these cards online. Despite Target Corp. temporal suspension of the sales of packs after a barrage of parking lot thefts, there has still been a massive influx of business to new platforms that allow these Pokémon collectors to sell their items.
Many authentication services are now receiving way too many requests than they can handle with Certified Collectibles Group having to sell a majority stake of their company last week to Blackstone Group Inc. at a half a billion dollars valuation.
Venture capitalists have already jumped on the Pokémon collectables sales train. Earlier this month, startup, Collectbase Inc., which makes software that helps collectors to scan, organize, price and track the value of their card collection and trade it on eBay, raised funding in a round led by billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
Cardbase, the company’s mobile application initially started with sports cards before expanding to Pokémon cards this spring, after several months of numerous requests, said Anas Salem, the co-founder of the site.
“Pokémon cards are getting crazy in the U.S.,” he said in a Bloomberg report, adding that he believes a similar trend could erupt in Europe soon where “the market just needs more tools and education.”
Nonetheless, it is a common pattern with these trends that whatever goes up must surely come down, and some people already fear that the surge in demand for Pokémon cards could eventually lead to a glut in supply. Currently, the number of professionally authenticated Pokémon cards has been made artificially low because the major companies who evaluate these cards were overwhelmed with the number of submissions they received during the pandemic from homebound customers.
Though for some collectors like Shininger, the rave is not just about the money but the nostalgic feeling that comes with them. He has set aside the proceeds of the cards which he has already sold towards a down payment for a condo and still has nearly 100 more high-value, vintage cards that he has no intentions of selling.