Target Temporarily Halts Some In-Store Sports Card and Pokemon Sales

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Target is putting a temporary halt to some — but not all — of its in-store trading card sales.

The company has confirmed that MLB, NBA, NFL and Pokemon cards are temporarily being removed from store shelves. The plan is for other sports and trading cards to still be available.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t intended to be a permanent change but rather something for the time being.

D.J. Kazmierczak, Panini America’s Vice President of Sales/Product Development, addressed the situation in an interview with Eric Norton on the May 12 episode of Beckett Live Presents.

“This is a short-term cooling off period that will also allow Target to figure out how they can reinvent the customer experience in the trading card section,” Kazmierczak said.

He also highlighted that collectors may still find some cards in stores. “It’s only the four ‘biggies’ right now that are coming out: MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon,” he noted. “Everything else is going to stay in the store, your NASCAR, your UFC, your soccer, your NHL product — that stuff is still going to be available.”

Target’s temporary policy change is a culmination of the exploding popularity of trading cards, particularly in the last year. The chain has tried a variety of things to make cards available while keeping stores safe and orderly.

Kazmierczak noted that as a growing number of people started hanging around in stores waiting for restocks, the chain needed to make a change.

“Target started to limit when they were going to sell product because there was so many people coming into the store and in the aisles and they were blocking the check lanes and things like that,” he said. “Target wanted to limit when people were going to be in that area of the store so they started going to a schedule of when product was going to be available.

“That kind of worked somewhat in the opposite affect in that then people would line up in the parking lot and they were camping out overnight. There started to be some activity in the parking lot that wasn’t exactly conducive to a friendly consumer environment.”

Things came to a head last Friday at a Target in Brookfield, Wisconsin when a man was jumped by four other men in the parking lot. A gun was pulled and the shopping center went into lockdown for about an hour. The altercation started over trading cards.

“The bottom line is that this is a short-term cooling off period that will also allow Target to figure out how they can reinvent the customer experience in the trading card section at Target,” Kazmierczak said. “I met with the Target buyer yesterday. We met about this and had a long conversation about the strategy, the reasoning and they are very invested in the trading card program.”

For the time being, trading cards being removed from stores will be sold through Target’s website.

As for Walmart, Kazmierczak said that, at the moment, they will not be pulling any trading cards from stores.

“As it stands right now, I’ve had a conversation with MJ Holdings, which services them and they had talked to the Walmart buyer — their intention is to keep things the way they are,” he said. “They haven’t seen the same level of serious activity and I think in part it’s because they changed the way they service the stores a while ago.”

According to Kazmierczak, when MJ Holdings were restocking Walmart stores, they did it at somewhat random and scattered times. However, with Target stores, people were able to figure out patterns for restock times, which led to crowds in stores.

“On more than one occasion, in more than one state, people put trackers on the reps cars to follow them around,” he said.

“This is a temporary situation, not a permanent situation,” said Kazmierczak. “Could it become a permanent situation? Sure, if we implement some other changes that don’t work, it could. But it’s not intended to be. [Target’s] goal is to have all trading cards back in the space as soon as possible.”

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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11 comments

  1. Jason Kaul 13 May, 2021 at 10:33

    Retail flippers continue to ruin the hobby they know nothing about. You see them on video breaks pronouncing players names wrong and not knowing the difference between base, parallels, and inserts.

  2. goblue98 13 May, 2021 at 10:46

    I can’t say that I’m surprised, as I have heard stories of people not behaving the best at retail outlets. Unfortunately, it’s a few bad seeds that cause issues for others, because of greed. It’s a good move by Target, since people clearly can’t behave themselves.
    I wonder if other retail outlets will follow Target’s lead?

  3. Kerry Orton 13 May, 2021 at 10:48

    This is not a problem with the recent popularity of sports cards. This is a problem with the “me” generation and lack of concern for others’ welfare.

    • Ryan Cracknell 13 May, 2021 at 18:15

      @Kerry – Pretty sure it’s a few people causing this and not an entire generation.

  4. John Donovan 13 May, 2021 at 11:35

    Strange, I thought that policy was enacted over a year ago. Seems like that was the last time I saw cards on a store shelf.

  5. John Bissell 13 May, 2021 at 14:33

    Seems like a much easier solution would have been to enforce the good old “No Loitering” policy. If you’re standing around the trading card aisle not shopping, you should get kicked out. Also, no camping outside the store. These are easy policies to enforce by store security.

  6. Randy Johnson 13 May, 2021 at 14:42

    Ryan, thank you for the article and it’s good to see Panini acknowledging the retail issue.

    One thing still sticks out like a sore thumb to me – Panini’s own role in creating this absurd demand.

    For example … 2021 Score Football just came out at $300 for a hobby box on Panini’s own website.

    That’s a ludicrous price for Score Football. It’s a $2 a pack product, much like its NBA Hoops counterpart.

    Hence, the retail situation – people camping out overnight and now apparently pulling guns on each other … so many new and/or uneducated collectors are equating retail products with hobby products and look at a $19.99 blaster as a crazy bargain alternative to the ludicrously overpriced hobby product – but they’re not the same thing.

    I had hoped by now, after 14 months, that these new collectors would have figured out that their after-market $80 blasters were very poor investments based on the minimal return value, but I guess not.

    Any chance on following up with DJ and asking him to address this?

    I think we can all agree that now that the situation has escalated to firearm usage that maybe it’s time for Panini to take a long, hard look at how it has been price gouging its customers during this pandemic.

    Thank you for your time.

  7. Mark 13 May, 2021 at 16:08

    What’s sad at my Target is they only make sports cards & pokemon cards available on Friday when the store opens. Well, that’s for the sports card boxes and you ONLY get 1 and people get in line at 5 am. If you get in line after 7 the pickings are slim.
    Once you’re in line a Target rep gives you a ticket for your turn to pick.
    Blaster packs and single packs of Pokemon are available any day but only 1 per customer.
    Hopefully Walmart follows suit soon. It’s a tough situation for a hobby that’s supposed to be fun.

  8. Richard 13 May, 2021 at 21:08

    It’s ridiculous what’s going on at the retail stores that sell trading cards. The shelves are completely bare and the minute the put product out the idiot pack busters are there to buy everything up. The manufacturers are contributing to this behavior especially Panini with their ridiculous markups of new products. It’s going to cone to a point where cards are locked up in stores like premium razors or cigarettes. Hate to say it but I can’t wait till this pandemic card bubble pops because it’s not enjoyable to collect anymore.

  9. fred 14 May, 2021 at 08:45

    I’m with John Donovan. It’s been months since I’ve gone to my local Target and seen any baseball cards on the shelves. I remember all of the hand wringing in the 90’s about pricing the kids out of the hobby. Well, here we are again.

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