Pokémon card craze has settled into a slow simmer, Ottawa vendors say

Photo by Julien Bernier

Getting rich fast is likely not in the cards for today’s Pokémon aficionados. Ottawa vendors of the much-hyped trading cards say supply is outstripping demand and prices have levelled off from what they were even just months ago.

“A couple months ago, it was a lot worse than what it is now, especially around Christmas time,” observes Jonathan Weir, a sales associate at Toys on Fire in Barrhaven. “There were – especially in Wal-Mart parking lots – adults having full-on fist fights over Pokémon cards. There were stores that stopped carrying them and there were a lot of people scalping the prices on Kijiji and secondary sources.”

Hype around the cards, which fluctuate in popularity, began around two years ago when popular social media influencers such as Logan Paul began buying up boxes of cards and intensifying the craze. Paul even became the holder of a Guinness world record for purchasing a PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card for a purported $5,275,000.

“For (Paul), as one of those influencers, good or bad media doesn’t matter,” Weir explains. “It’s all good to him. If he spends a crazy number – even if the card isn’t worth it – people are still going to be talking about him and how he spent ‘this much money’, which naturally drives up the prices even if it wasn’t his intention.”

Unfortunately, expecting a return of that magnitude on cards that may be collecting dust in an attic is unrealistic. Weir says that, while the craze was intense last Christmas, stores are starting to get stock, meaning supply is starting to outstrip demand, even though supply chain issues are affecting availability.

However, Weir says there should be new Pokémon video games coming around Christmas 2022, which could drive up prices once again. And while prices for more common cards have stabilized, rarer cards continue to have higher worth. 

“There has been a small decrease in the price of more common rare cards, but there are cards like the Charizard card – any Charizard card – that have been slowly going up (in price).”

With people trying to capitalize on the overall rise in card prices, the market has become oversaturated, he adds. 

“Everyone wants to sell their cards, but it’s a lot more difficult because everyone wants to sell and not as many people are trying to buy,” Weir says.

John Koh, sales associate at Game Breakers on Baseline Road, says that while prices for cards have been stabilizing, the game is as popular as ever.

The Pokémon card craze “reached its peak around a year ago and it’s been kind of levelling out more and more as time passes,” Koh says. “It’s still very popular – out of all the games we sell, it’s probably the most popular.”

Koh says that since the start of the year, demand for even rare cards like the Charizard has tempered.

“It’s still the most popular Pokémon and it’s still generally one of the most valuable cards. In the latest Brilliant Stars set, the most valuable cards are Charizards,” he explains. “They have maintained their prices – in some ways they’ve even gone up, but I think we’re beyond the point where people are willing to pay anything to get a nice Charizard. A lot of the other rarer cards, in general, are a lot more reasonable.”

Koh says those other rarer cards were selling from $500 to $1,000 as recently as six months ago, provided they were graded 10.

He believes that, due to the Pokémon craze that began around two years ago, getting into collecting cards is much easier. 

“People were buying so many boxes and so many packs and cracking them open, which leads to another thing – and this has stayed true through the entire (pandemic) time – the normal cards, the base rarity cards, even if they are relatively rare, are cheaper than they have ever been and more available than they have ever been,” Koh says