It's no question, Pokémon product is difficult to find and depending on where you live, it could be quite impossible. With Pokémon being all the rage right now, it's easy to find yourself falling into a trap of buying counterfeit product or being price gouged by scalpers and similar.
We're going to look at some things you can do to protect yourself while continuing to enjoy the Pokémon hobby.
This article is going to focus strictly on the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) because cards are the most sought after and difficult to come by. However, you can use a lot of these tips for finding other Pokémon product as well.
What Prices for Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) Cards are Reasonable?
When it comes to the prices of Pokémon cards being reasonable, determining what is reasonable will likely vary from collector to collector. However, we can look at some of the numbers to help us:
- English booster boxes retail at $143.64 per box.
- English booster packs retail at $3.99 per pack.
While there are special booster pack sets, elite trainer boxes (ETB), and other card packages, the above information should give us a baseline idea of what things should cost.
When sets are no longer printed, the prices might go up and that is usually fine because they are hard to come by. However, for modern sets that are still being printed, prices should not go above retail, otherwise you're dealing with a scalper.
Authorized resellers get their product below retail. What resellers pay is outside my scope of knowledge, but because they get them for cheaper, they often sell the product for cheaper than retail. You can usually take advantage of these lower prices through pre-orders and subscriptions.
How to Avoid Fake and Counterfeit Product
Knowing that you could be buying Pokémon TCG cards for cheaper than retail, you have to stop and ask yourself what price is unrealistically cheap or is the vendor a trustworthy source.
There's always going to be someone looking to take advantage and it's not always from hiking the price 10x above retail.
The fake Pokémon TCG scene is unbelievable.
If you see a listing for packs and boxes 10x below retail or are from less than reputable resellers, then you might be buying fake Pokémon cards. For example, $50.00 for a booster box that hasn't been in print for the last ten (10) years probably isn't legitimate.
The moral of the story here is to know what cards cost and make sure you're paying near that price or know that the retailer is reputable.
Pokémon Resellers with Retail or Reasonable Prices
So how do you know what retailers are reputable or not?
The simplest thing you can do is buy only from Pokémon Center, which is the official vender of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. You're likely never going to get a deal, but at least you won't pay above retail or receive fake product.
With that in mind, the next list of stores will vary by country. I'm in the United States and will be listing stores based on my own experience.
Here are some trustworthy stores:
- Best Buy
There are plenty of other chain stores in the United States that sell Pokémon cards, but these are the ones I frequent the most. However, there are exceptions to my list of stores.
When ordering online, places like Walmart allow for third-party vendors. Make sure you're buying it from where you think you're buying it from, otherwise you may end up with fakes or may end up paying more than retail. If you buy them in-store, you won't have to worry about this.
Speaking of buying online. There are a few places I go to buy cards online.
- Team Covenant
- Game Nerdz
- Plaza Japan
Most of the above are independent card shops, but not all of them. I actually wrote about buying single cards from TCGplayer and buying Japanese cards from Plaza Japan.
Team Covenant has booster box subscriptions. Basically, you're put on a guarantee list to receive a booster box when they release. It's kind of like a pre-order, but you don't have to remember to sign up every quarter. These booster boxes are sometimes cheaper than retail as well.
Game Nerdz has a lot of product, but they also have a lot of pre-orders. The best part is that these pre-orders are at retail pricing or slightly cheaper.
TCGplayer is great for buying single cards to complete your collection and Plaza Japan is great for buying Japanese cards.
With the demand that Pokémon TCG is facing right now, you're going to encounter resellers attempting to take advantage of people. Whether it be scalpers selling cards for 10x what their worth or counterfeiters trying to push fake cards, you need to watch out.
Know what the cards are worth at retail, know who's a reputable retailer, and make your own best judgments based on that information.