The Pokémon Card Gold Rush Is Causing a Labor Crisis

Pokémon cards are selling so fast that retailers can’t keep up and the secondary market is flooded with expensive chase cards.
Image: Nintendo Screengrab
Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 3
Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard's podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.

Pokémon cards have become big business and it’s causing problems at retailers and the companies who grade cards for resell. At Target, the company is limiting purchases of the cards to one item per customer, only selling them on Friday, and threatening to call the cops on customers who line up outside the store to wait.


Many of these cards end up on eBay where collector’s pay hundreds of dollars for the right version of Pickahu or Charizard. To get the best price on a card, sellers need to get it graded by a professional company. Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), and Beckett Grading Services (BGS) will take your cards off your hands, certify their condition, and send them back to you. But the market is so many cards are on the market right now that the grading companies are months behind schedule. The situation is so bad that CGC recently announced it’s offering $2,500 as a signing bonus to anyone willing to take on the job of helping it assess the value of cards.

This week on Cyber, Motherboard Editor-in-Chief Jason Koelber and reporter Matthew Gault talk about the great Pokémon trading card crisis of 2021. “The situation is very wild,” Koelber said. “One, the prices are through the roof. Two, the high end graded card market is simply bonkers that’s resulted in a labor issue. Three, they’re still making Pokémon cards and they’re still hard to get.”