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Pandemic fueling surge in collectibles

mcdonalds pokemon cards
Posted at 6:43 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 22:11:56-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Baseball cards, Barbie dolls and Pokémon cards are seeing a surge in popularity during the pandemic as some people are using their extra stimulus money to cash in on collectibles.

Some McDonald’s locations are putting up signs at the drive-thru saying Pokémon cards can only be purchased with a Happy Meal.

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The company recently teamed up with Pokémon for a limited-time promotion to give out cards as Happy Meal toys, but McDonald’s tells 13 Action News some locations across the country have sold out with people buying them up.

“I was like oh boy. Here it goes again," said Mickey Tenney, a business partner at the game store Wii Play Games in Spring Valley.

He says since the pandemic began Pokémon cards have been extremely popular.

“We’re scrounging up different distributors to try to get more product. It’s very hard to maintain and keep in stock,” he said.

Tenney says the cards, along with other collectibles, are gaining popularity.

Some cards in a mint condition are worth thousands of dollars, causing people to ask Tenney to value their cards daily.

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“I pull my hair out sometimes. Just so many people want to evaluate their cards, but that’s what we do,” he said.

He says people, particularly millennials, have used their extra stimulus money to take up new hobbies.

“You’ve got to do something. If you can’t go to the movies, you have to find stuff to do at home, play with your kids. Pokémon is a great way to play with your family,” Tenney said.

At Max Pawn, owner Michael Mack has noticed more people using their extra stimulus money rather than asking for loans to make ends meet.

“Everyone had money, more money than they normally had, so our retail sales were off the charts," he said.

Mack says collectibles like trading cards and Barbie dolls have an interest but that market is more volatile and so at his store, more people are using their money to buy high-end merchandise.

“Not everyone has that full amount of money to go spend at a department store or high-end boutique, so at Max Pawn you can buy it at a fraction of retail cost,” he said.

Tenney says the popularity has led to people trying to score a quick buck like selling the McDonald’s Pokémon cards, but he says he hopes people keep their hobbies whenever the market calms down.

“If you love it and you enjoy it, it will pay off in the long run," he said.

"If you do it to score a quick dollar," he added, "I think that’s where you’re going to lose in the long term."

As far as those McDonald’s cards, the corporation says it’s addressing the shortage and asking locations to set reasonable limits.

Read the company's full statement to 13 Action News below:

We love seeing fans’ passion for our limited-time Happy Meal promotion celebrating 25 years of Pokémon. With such significant demand for our promotional Pokémon TCG cards, and some fans even going to extreme lengths to get them, we’re working quickly to address shortages and also strongly encouraging restaurants to set a reasonable limit on Happy Meals sold per customer. We want to offer the full Happy Meal experience to as many families as possible, and help ensure everyone is able to get in on the fun!