Target is pulling in-store sales of popular trading cards, citing employee safety, after a parking lot brawl in one of its stores last week. The retailer told CBS MoneyWatch it would no longer sell Pokemon and sports trading cars in its physical locations starting Friday.
"The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokemon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com," a Target spokesperson said in a statement.
Trading cards have surged in popularity during the pandemic. Pokemon cards, especially, are flying off the shelves so fast the printing press can barely keep up. Some early editions of the card game, which turns 25 this year, have fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars in online auctions; even recently printed Pokemon cards are quickly climbing in price.
Soaring card prices are driving some would-be collectors to extremes. In recent months, scalpers have targeted Pokemon cards destined for McDonald's Happy Meals and ravaged cereal boxes on supermarket shelves to extract the special-edition cards within. In Japan, one man allegedly climbed down a rope to break into a store and carry away $9,000 worth of Pokemon cards, according to TheGamer.com.
Target last month limited card sales to three packs per person per day, then to one pack per day. But the policy led to even more frenzied speculation with some shoppers camping out outside the stores before they opened.
Last week, a shopper leaving a Target store in Wisconsin was attacked by three men in the parking lot, leading the victim to pull out his gun and neighboring stores to impose momentary lockdowns. No shots were fired, and the victim suffered only minor injuries, according to reports. It's unclear which type of trading card was the cause of the scuffle.