Card collecting rising in popularity during pandemic

Trading card vendors say people collected sports trading cards as kids in the 1980s are getting back into the hobby as adults.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (WMTV) - Target is now suspending sales of sports trading cards over safety concerns after four people assaulted a man in a Brookfield store over the cards. The incident is a sign of a larger trend that card collecting is becoming a popular hobby once again, and a card show in Wisconsin Dells is taking advantage of the hype.

Trading card marketplace PWCC said the trend is partly driven by people who collected cards as kids getting back into the hobby decades later as adults.

Tom Hays is one of those people, now a fan of collecting sports cards for Wisconsin athletes. His collecting started as a childhood hobby.

“I loved collecting baseball cards when I was a kid, I would spread them all over the living room floor,” Hays remembered.

Tom sold all his cards in the late 1980s. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, he got back into collecting—this time with a partner.

“I kind of got my wife into this hobby of opening cards,” Hays described.

His wife Linda said she did not love the idea at first.

“He came home with a box of cards and I said, ‘How much did you spend for it?’” she remembered.

But when she ripped the first pack of cards open, she was sold.

“I was like ‘Oo I love this, I want to do it again!’” she described, adding, “It’s just a thrill, it’s just a rush.”

Tom is one of several people getting back into collecting cards as an adult, helping drive a renewed interest in the hobby.

“It’s sports, it’s Americana, it’s nostalgic for these guys,” said Jesse Craig, director of business development for trading card marketplace PWCC.

Craig said the market has exploded in the last 18 months, also driven by the pandemic.

“It reinvigorated, you know, people are sitting at home on their hands with nothing to do, so they started getting back into cards,” Craig explained.

Events like the Wisconsin Dells Card Show are capitalizing on the renewed popularity. Held at the Kalahari Resort Convention Center, the 3-day show is attracting card collectors from across the country.

Tom and Lisa came from Sun Prairie, hoping to sell some of their collection.

“This is a pretty good one, Jo Adell, it’s one of 25,” Lisa said, showing off part of their collection.

The couple is also searching for some special cards to add to their stash.

“He says this is what you look for, this is what we need and I’m like ‘Come on, come on,’” Lisa explained.

The Wisconsin Dells Card Show is open until Sunday. Organizers said on Friday, they sold double the number of tickets compared to pre-sales. Tickets are still available at the door, and the entrance fee is $10.

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