Target halts in-store sales of sports cards after fight at Wisconsin outlet

Buying sports cards at big box stores just became more difficult.

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Target announced Wednesday that the sale of all sports trading cards and Pokémon card products at its stores will be halted temporarily. The stoppage comes after an incident on May 7 in Brookfield, Wisconsin, when a 35-year-old man was accosted by four men in the store’s parking lot over trading cards and brandished a gun in his defense, WJDT reported.

No shots were fired, and the victim had a permit to carry a weapon, the television station reported. The victim suffered minor injuries.

The four men, who ranged in age from 25 to 35, were later arrested and taken into custody on battery, strangulation and disorderly conduct charges, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

“The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority,” Target said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokémon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com.”

It appears that Magic: The Gathering cards are still available at Target outlets.

Target has limited access to its sports card products this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stores nationwide have been conducting sales every Friday, with consumers registering via telephone with an associate after arriving at the store. Associates were stationed outside the store, and people waiting overnight in lines was prohibited.

When stores opened at 8 a.m., consumers were notified by text that it was their turn to buy cards. Buyers then had two minutes to arrive at the aisle where the cards were being sold and one by one, were allowed to choose the cards they wanted to buy. Originally, customers were limited to buying three items per day, but in the past month, consumers were only allowed to buy one item.

Shoppers were allowed to enter the store but were forbidden from loitering near the cards.

Now, there will be no more lines. Sales will be limited to the store’s online site.

Walmart said it continues to sell trading cards in stores., CNN reported.

“We are determining what, if any, changes are needed to meet customer demand while ensuring a safe and enjoyable shopping experience,” a spokesperson said in a statement to the news network.

Hobby boxes, which are sold online or at sports card stores, are more expensive and contain more premium cards. However, stores like Target and Walmart sell retail boxes of cards. While premium cards are less likely to have big-ticket cards, the lack of products on the retail market has made them more scarce.

Speculators have been buying boxes of cards and “flipping” them on eBay or other online sites for several times the value, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“It’s almost like the golden ticket Willie Wonka theory,” Jeff Lemieux of Jeff’s Sports Inc., in Brookfield, told WISN. “It’s a big value, and they’re hard to get, but you might get it.”

Lemieux said he believed the pandemic has played a big role in the run for collectibles.

“When COVID hit, I think people were just bored, didn’t have anything to do,” Lemieux told WITI.

Lemieux added that he now limits how many cards people can buy at his store.

“We don’t want one guy coming in and wiping us out so other people can’t get it,” Lemieux told the television station.

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