Target Pulls Trading Cards From All Stores After Gun Drawn in Parking Lot

Target will suspend the sale of certain trading cards in its stores from May 14 out of concern for the safety of staff and customers. The move follows an incident in a Target parking lot where a man pulled a gun in an apparent dispute about cards.

The value of some types of trading cards has increased significantly over the course of the pandemic and has led to concerns about threats to staff.

Target will no longer sell Pokémon cards or MLB, NFL and NBA playing cards in its stores, but these can still be purchased from the retailer's website.

"The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority," Target said in a statement to comic books and games website Bleeding Cool.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokémon trading cards within our stores, effective May 14. Guests can continue to shop these cards online at Target.com."

Target's decision comes after an incident outside one its stores in Brookfield, Wisconsin on May 7. A group of four men reportedly attacked a fifth man in a dispute about sports trading cards in the store's parking lot. The man had left Target, which had just recently restocked trading cards, after purchasing a box of sports cards.

The man drew a gun but did not fire and there were no serious injuries. Target and a nearby Trader Joe's were locked down, however.

"Preliminary reports revealed that this altercation appears to have stemmed from a disagreement involving the purchase/possession of sports trading cards obtained from Target," a local police report said.

"During the assault, the victim who is a valid [concealed carry] holder was able to access his firearm at which point his attackers fled on foot. No shots were fired nor did the victim pursue his attackers. All four were located in the surrounding area and taken into custody. The victim suffered minor injuries which did not require immediate medical attention on the scene."

The value of some trading cards, such as Pokémon cards, has seen a major increase over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from Reuters on February 23.

The renewed interest appears to be due in part to millennials and members of Gen X returning to a hobby they enjoyed as children. The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first released in Japan in 1996.

Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, told Reuters that a mint condition Charizard card sold for $300,000 in January. The card's valuation in late 2019 was just $16,000.

Target had already taken measures to deal with the high demand for cards. The retailer had limited the number of packs customers were allowed to purchase to three and later one. The company also told employees to consider calling police on people who camped outside stores overnight to obtain Pokémon cards.

Newsweek has asked Target for comment.

Pokémon Cards at a 2017 Tournament
Attendees compete at the Pokémon European International Championships at ExCel on November 17, 2017 in London, England. Pokémon cards have seen a spike in value over the course of the pandemic. John Keeble/Getty Images