Collectors can’t catch ’em all. Not even a Master Ball will help, Jacob Glick Explains.
Pokémon cards once littered the shelves of big box stores. Currently, out of stock is an understatement, explains Jacob Glick. The beginning of the pandemic triggered a run on items like water, tissues, and cleaning supplies. This same depletion quickly spread to cards and collectibles. Turns out 10-year-old you was right all along when you demanded that you “just had to have” the latest release. These novelties must be “essential” after all.
Now, this original group of trainers, like Jacob Glick, is all grown up. Unfortunately, Pokémon prices are too. Driven by more free time at home and a desire for nostalgia, the franchise is in a midst of a resurgence in both popularity and value. Debuting two decades ago, these pocket monsters were the hottest item on the playground. They were traded, stuffed in pockets, and thrown in book bags. Fast forward to today. As the Japanese import celebrates its 25th anniversary, this trading card game is getting the “white glove” treatment.
The rarest cards are commanding six figures in online auctions. Last month, a first edition card recently sold for $311,800 on eBay. The base set holographic Charizard received an elusive perfect mint condition rating. Perhaps even more shocking, this isn’t even the highest price for a single card. The record-setting sale belongs to a Blastoise card which sold earlier this year for $360,000. Long-time trainer Jacob Glick is one of many who is also hoping to capitalize. Collectors are dusting off their old binders and rushing to get their own hidden gems graded. In fact, PSA, the leading independent grading service, is experiencing such a backlog that it has paused operations.
The frenzy doesn’t just extend to older prints. Long lines stretch around storefronts in anticipation when new sets are released. Entire batches are being sold out online and in stores before notifications can even be sent out to prospective buyers, explains Jacob Glick. The real-life hunt is proving even more challenging than the digital version. This bloodlust for shiny cardboard has spilled into every aspect of our culture. The most recent example is the Pokémon Company’s promotion with McDonald’s. The event was meant to celebrate their long-standing partnership by packaging limited edition cards with Happy Meals. It was designed to be a perfect re-imagining of the mid-’90s phenomenon. Instead, the story revolved around the anger that ensued when kids, parents, and collectors alike were left without any at all. Speculators and scalpers staked out and stampeded stores, buying out entire restaurants.
In the meantime, Jacob Glick says, avid collectors will keep searching and collecting. But, trainers no longer “gotta catch ’em all.” It takes just one to cash in.