Target will stop selling all sports and Pokémon trading cards due to safety concerns, the company announced.
The New York Post reports the retail chain’s new policy will take effect Friday, May 14, out of an “abundance of caution” after a fight broke out a store in Wisconsin over the popular collectible items last week. Police said a 35-year-old man pulled a gun after being physically assaulted by four other men in the parking lot after an argument over sports trading cards; the attackers ran away and no shots were fired.
“The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
According to The Verge, Pokémon cards have especially risen in popularity and value during the coronavirus pandemic, and The Pokémon Company has struggled to keep supplies in stock.
A sports memorabilia store owner told WISN that some trading cards have gone up five times in value. Interest in rare, original cards has also sparked demand for new cards.
“It’s almost like the golden ticket Willy Wonka theory,” Jeff’s Sports owner Jeff Lemieux told WISN. “It’s a big value, and they’re hard to get, but you might get it… People looking for sports cards has just skyrocketed.”
Target had recently attempted to keep things under control with new rules last month, limiting purchases to one trading card item per customer per day. Cards were also only sold at 8 a.m. on Fridays, and the incident in Brookfield, Wisconsin, occurred just 20 minutes after the sale began May 7. Four men were arrested on potential charges of battery, strangulation and disorderly conduct.
Collectors can still buy the cards online, Target officials said.