Local dealer: Value of early Pokemon cards skyrocketing
Recently-retired NFL linebacker Blake Martinez has pocketed $5 million from selling Pokemon cards in the past seven months, according to BleacherReport.com.
These astounding dollar figures are not surprising, said James Mathews, who is the co-owner with good friend Mike Khoury of Canton’s 3 Kings Sports Cards, located at 8473 N, Lilley Road.
“The values of first edition Pokemon cards are absolutely insane now,” said Mathews, “as long as they’re in good condition. We’ve had some really good ones come in our store that we’ve sent out to be graded. We clean them up and prep them before we send them out to the grading companies.
“The key is the condition of the cards. Pokemon is a game, so a lot of kids shuffled them, played with them, so that obviously decreased the number of mint-condition cards that are out there. But if you can find some, get them graded because you could be sitting on a mini-fortune.”
Card-collecting industry ‘insane’
Mathews said the card-collecting industry (predominantly sports cards, but non-sports as well) was gaining serious steam immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic struck — and it only picked up momentum once the pandemic-related shutdowns created idle time for millions of people.
“The card-collecting hobby is absolutely insane right now,” said Mathews. “There are several reasons. The shutdown temporarily closed casinos, so gamblers were looking for a way make money. People were buying up the hobby boxes and seeing if they had that one-of-one card in it and maybe hit the jackpot. This drove a spike in the market.”
Mathews said there is a one-of-one NBA Prizm Luka Doncic 2017-18 rookie card that has “a bounty on it of $1.5 million. It’s still out there, so people are excited about it. It’s kind of like playing the lottery, only with sports cards.”
Mathews, who opened ‘3 Kings’ with Khoury in 2021, said he recently attended a national sports-card convention where he eyed a Mickey Mantle rookie card worth an estimated $12.6 million.
“A gentleman bought it in the late-80s for $50,000,” Mathews said. “It just shows you what’s possible. I saw the card in person. The owner walked in with security all around him and a camera crew. It was pretty cool.”
Good grades important
One factor that has boosted the sports and Pokemon card industry is the grading of cards — something that is done by primarily three widely-respected companies.
“We’ve had people bring in cards that would have been incredibly valuable, but they had a crease in them, or the corners were frayed a little,” he said. “One thing we do here is educate people about how to take care of their cards, namely by placing them carefully in penny sleeves as soon as they find a potentially valuable card.”
The Canton card store was steady busy with customers on a recent Wednesday night. Mathews said “3 Kings” hosts monthly events where card enthusiasts bring in their collections and share the passion with others. The event schedule can be found on the business’s Facebook page.
“We offer free pizza and pop; it’s been incredibly popular,” he said. “You’ll see people of all ages walk in here. It’s really getting hot again.”
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