Collectibles market booming during COVID-19 pandemic

LETHBRIDGE — With so many people staying close to home and not spending money at restaurants or bars, some have more disposable income than other years.

Pair that excess cash with lots of free time, and you get a boom in a market that has remained relatively steady since the 1990’s – collectibles.

Most retailers are having a hard time getting their hands on enough product to meet the overwhelming demand which in turn, is driving up prices.

“That prompts guys like me, guys my age, to go crawling through boxes in their attic or boxes in their basement trying to find these old cards.” Said Showcase Comics and Hobbies Manager Dylan Purcell.

Back in December, a Wayne Gretzky rookie card sold for a record-breaking $1.29 million at an auction.

That sale helped to push some casual fans into becoming fanatics, rummaging through old collections and rediscovering their passion for the hobby.

“If you’ve got a box full of old cards at home, go through it. See if you have anything of value. Put it in a sleeve, look after it, make sure it’s in good shape.” Said Purcell.

Some stores in Lethbridge have seen the number of customers coming through the door sky rocket by roughly 400 per cent.

But it’s not just hockey cards, the entire industry is seeing interest spike during the pandemic.

Pokémon cards are another item so hot that stores in southern Alberta have had long lines of people eagerly waiting outside the store ahead of new series releases.

“Pokémon has a really big group of collectors. Passionate collectors, and the prices of individual cards have skyrocketed which has brought more people back into it,” said Purcell.

“It’s one of those games that if you played it when you were 10 to 18 years-old, and you see all these old cards of yours going up in price, well it reignites that passion.”

The industry is thriving outside of card collectibles as well.

“With people stuck indoors, they’re binge-watching way more things. Getting back into old Star Trek episodes, all the Marvel movies, everything is streaming now,” said Pirates Cove Collectibles owner Grant Gatto.

“That is always going to spur collectors.”

Prices for everything from old comic books to rare coins have spiked in price and Gatto said he’s been having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.

“Supplies right now are really, really tricky to get. We can’t keep coins in stock and other items are flying off the shelves.”

Enthusiasts say, the current boom is showing no signs of slowing down and the hope is to keep to momentum going well into 2021.

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