Will Retailers Upsell Trading Cards After Target Ends Sales?

Yesterday, we reported the official end of Target's trading card sales for the foreseeable future. To this end, we also reported that this might mean good things for the typical local gaming store, but only if they aren't still shuttered due to the pandemic. But what is good for the stores isn't necessarily good for the customers, as there is a possibility that brick-and-mortar retailers might mark up what Target now has embargoed.

A Target store, known for its "bullseye" logo and red-and-white color scheme. Source: Target Corporation
A Target store, known for its "bullseye" logo and red-and-white color scheme. Source: Target Corporation

Let's look at some of the given facts here. We know that the big-box retailer will officially be ceasing trading card operations tomorrow, May 14th. We also know much of why that is. Scalpers have been upselling their card gains for the past few months, but recently things got violent when a man in Wisconsin was jumped and pulled a gun in a Target parking lot. Therefore, it's clear that these games hold some purported value.

But let's also take a look at some policies from one card game that potentially won't be affected unless Target decides to blanket embargo all of them for good measure. On February 18th of 2019, Wizards of the Coast ended the long-standing practice of applying an MSRP model to their Magic: The Gathering products. This was allegedly done in order to "streamline our communications around new products" as many countries do not favor MSRP in their parts of the world. Over the past two years, we have seen fluctuation between various cards and sets in Magic, sealed and singles alike, in the secondary market and the primary market in a lesser sense, as stores continue to grasp in the dark for what makes the most sense.

Let's think for a second of what might happen if other trading card companies, such as Topps or Upper Deck, or – goodness forbid! – the Pokémon Company, ceased to put an MSRP on their cards. If Magic: The Gathering is any indicator of what would happen, prices at local gaming stores would rise to a dramatic degree. This, in turn with big-box stores halting their sales, means the upselling of cards would likely be the new norm as other games would have store owners fumble for the right prices to sell their luxury rectangles of cardstock.

Also, Amazon is essentially the last "big-box store" to carry trading cards now, if we wish to stretch the definition of that term a bit. Target and Wal-Mart doing this means that Amazon will take a large chunk of the market for themselves. The fact that many friendly local gaming stores don't even operate right now means Amazon is already taking some of the market, but this action from the big retailers would likely cement it more.

Perhaps that is a good thing, however, because it will drive competition between brick-and-mortar stores and Amazon. The entities involved will need to keep prices low enough to draw people in, in many cases. So if there's any solace here for the time being, it's that. Do you agree with this assessment regarding the potential upsale of trading cards? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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