Hobby store owners blame influencers for break-ins targeting Pokemon cards
Several store owners in Edmonton, Alberta, are attributing the rise in break-ins and card theft to online influencers popularizing Pokemon cards over the last few years.
The Pokemon Card Trading Game has been around since the late 90s, and several expansions following the original base set are released year after year. In recent history, TCG fans have seen three or more set expansions released over the course of 12 months.
And with each new set, there’s a series of chase cards that value from $50 to $100 to $500+. However, these values pale compared to some of the oldest cards on the market. Namely, 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Charizard, which regularly sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Illustrator Pikachu, which was sold for millions of dollars.
These prices were up on full display when the Pokemon TCG demanded the attention of the internet around 2020-2021. Influencers such as Logan Paul and Mizkif aided in popularizing shiny cardboard rectangles by integrating pack openings into their content.
Now, hobby store owners are attributing the attacks on their businesses to the wave of Pokemania wrought by influencers glamorizing the card opening experience.
Edmonton store owners targeted by Pokemon card thieves
Initially reported by CBC News, several store owners in Edmonton, Canada, have been the target of break-ins and robberies. Their mark: Pokemon cards. And while Pokemon cards may seem like bits of paper with metallic holofoil, these crimes have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
Star Lotus Games owner Brandan Capel stated, “The last year-and-a-half has definitely been worse than probably anytime in the last decade.” He reported two instances of stolen cards in February 2022.
“There were some online personalities through streaming and other stuff that really hyped up old Pokemon products,” Capel stated, suspecting the rise in crime resulted from influencers breaking into the card game scene.
And he isn’t alone in this line of thought. Fellow hobby store owner Brian Tews – Taps Games – stated that Pokemon cards are the primary target of thieves and noted that the rise in crime reflected the popularity of online TCG openings. “When they see the YouTube stories, the news stories, Magic card sells for $180,000, Pokemon card sells for $150,000 — they don’t understand the scarcity on those cards that are selling for that price.”
This has resulted in some hobby stores refusing to carry Pokemon cards, including Edmonton’s own Hobz Hobby & Games, run by Jason Wynn. And this fear of theft and destruction of property has spread into big box retailers, with Walmarts around the United States removing playing card sections from their stores.
The mad dash for new sets has calmed down, with stores like Target or GameStop having little problems maintaining inventory. Yet, locally-owned hobby stores still feel the effects of 2020-2021’s wave of influencer Pokemon card openings.