Pokemon cards have seen a huge resurgence in popularity in recent years, leading many entrepreneurs and business owners to consider getting involved in the Pokemon card market. From buying and selling cards to hosting tournaments and events, there are many business opportunities in this niche. This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at how to start and run a successful Pokemon card business.
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A Brief History of Pokemon Cards
Pokemon cards were first introduced in Japan in 1996 along with the Pokemon video games. The cards were an instant hit, with billions of cards sold globally since then. The original Base Set cards are now highly coveted by collectors.
Pokemon underwent a resurgence in the late 2010s, leading to rapidly increasing prices for rare cards. High profile sales like the Pikachu Illustrator card selling for $900,000 drew mainstream attention. The COVID-19 pandemic further fueled interest in Pokemon cards as people spent more time at home.
Today, Pokemon remains one of the most popular trading card brands in the world. With new expansions releasing periodically, and vintage cards commanding high prices, the Pokemon card market offers exciting entrepreneurial opportunities.
Popular Ways to Make Money with Pokemon Cards
For entrepreneurs interested in entering the Pokemon card market, here are some of the most popular business models:
Buying and Selling Raw Cards
This involves buying raw (ungraded) Pokemon cards at wholesale prices and reselling them individually at a markup. The key is leveraging knowledge to find underpriced cards. Popular places to source cards include garage sales, estate sales, online marketplaces, and directly from other collectors.
Grading and Selling Cards
Professional grading from companies like PSA and Beckett authenticates cards and assigns a numeric grade. Higher graded cards command huge premiums. Entrepreneurs can capitalize on this by identifying cards likely to grade highly and reselling graded cards.
Sealed Product Arbitrage
When new Pokemon card releases initially hit the market, prices are lower. Savvy entrepreneurs will stock up on sealed booster boxes and packs during this period to resell later once prices increase. Limited edition sets see particularly sharp price hikes.
Operating an Online Store
Running an ecommerce store selling Pokemon cards allows reaching a huge global audience. Brick and mortar card shops have costs like rent and staff. Online stores have much lower overhead while offering greater reach.
Running Local Events
Organizing events like Pokemon card tournaments or meetups creates opportunities to bring together players, collectors, and vendors. Events can generate revenue through entry fees, vendor booth rentals, concessions, and sponsorship.
Breaking Sealed Product
“Breakers” open sealed Pokemon card packs or boxes and sell slots to participants, who get any cards from those openings that match their purchased slots. This allows customers to experience opening packs at below retail costs. Breakers profit by charging more per slot than their wholesale costs.
Creating Content and Reviews
Building an audience on social media, YouTube or blogs by creating useful content around Pokemon cards can generate advertising and sponsorship revenue. Unboxing videos garner millions of views. Reviews of new sets also perform very well.
Steps to Starting a Pokemon Card Business
Launching a successful Pokemon card business takes careful planning and preparation. Here are some key steps:
Research the Market Thoroughly
Learn all about Pokemon cards, including values on popular cards, how to spot fakes, what’s trending in the community, and where prices are headed. Being deeply knowledgeable is critical.
Decide on Your Business Model
Evaluate your available time, capital, interests and skills. The business models above have very different requirements. Choose one that aligns closely with your resources and abilities.
Handle Legal and Tax Requirements
Make sure to register your business, obtain any required licenses or permits, have accounting and record keeping practices in place, understand sales tax obligations, etc. Handling legalities properly is important.
Reliably sourcing quality inventory at good prices is crucial for any Pokemon card business. Establish connections with distributors, well-rated eBay sellers and collectors to find undervalued inventory.
Market Your Business
Promote your business through social media, at local leagues, on relevant online forums, by networking with influential Pokemon community members, and via search engine optimization. Get eyes on your brand.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Customer satisfaction and your reputation are extremely important in collectibles markets. Be honest in all dealings, ship quickly, be responsive to inquiries, and resolve any issues promptly.
Key Things to Keep in Mind
Running a profitable Pokemon card business takes more than just buying and selling cards. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Understand collector preferences – Follow Pokemon collector communities to recognize which cards, artworks and sets are hottest. Collectors drive demand.
- Monitor market price trends – Prices fluctuate continually in the Pokemon card market. Keep up with price movements so you can buy low and sell high.
- Manage inventory wisely – Tying up capital in excess inventory strains cash flow. Focus on selling through existing stock before accumulating more.
- Provide security – Cards can be stolen or damaged easily. Have measures in place to provide physical and cyber security for your inventory. Get insurance.
- Keep up with new releases – When evaluating inventory buying opportunities, be aware of imminent new set releases which will impact prices.
- Have strong marketing skills – As competition has increased, mastering marketing across various platforms is essential to succeeding in this business.
- Minimize risks – Diversify your inventory across many cards. Avoid overpaying for unproven cards. Start small to test ideas. Manage downside risk.
- Obtain a seller’s permit – If selling Pokemon cards exceeds occasional sales limits in your state, make sure to register for a permit to collect sales tax.
- Hire help strategically – As your business grows, bring on employees strategically in areas you aren’t as strong, like marketing, content or operations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about entrepreneurship in the Pokemon card market:
How much capital is needed to start a Pokemon card business?
You can start very small with just a few hundred dollars buying and flipping raw cards. For more sophisticated wholesale buying or handling graded cards, $2,000-$5,000 provides a solid foundation. Some inventory will sell slowly so don’t tie up all capital.
What are the main costs involved in running a Pokemon card business?
Key costs are inventory, grading fees if submitting cards, any paid advertising, shipping supplies and postage, accounting services, travel to source inventory, fees for selling platforms, and potentially rent for storage space.
What are effective ways to source Pokemon card inventory?
Check estate and garage sales, buy collections from those exiting the hobby, build relationships with distributors, buy lots on eBay or Craigslist, purchase inventory from players at events and card shops, and participate in group breaks of new releases.
How difficult is it to compete in the Pokemon card market today?
The popularity boom has attracted many new sellers, so competition has increased markedly. But focusing on niche aspects of the market, providing elite customer service, and mastering marketing can still set you apart.
How should someone new to Pokemon cards learn about the hobby?
Read forums like PokeBeach and Reddit to absorb knowledge from experienced collectors. Study price guide sites like TCGPlayer and eBay sold listings. Meet local players who can mentor you. Watch Pokemon channels on YouTube like smpratte, Fourth Star, and Rattle.
Is selling Pokemon cards online better than in person?
Selling online lets you access vastly more customers across the world. In person sales like at tournaments may have higher margins but very limited customer traffic compared to ecommerce. Omnichannel selling is ideal by combining online and offline.
The incredible popularity of Pokemon cards today offers exciting opportunities for enterprising business owners. As this guide outlines, you can launch a highly profitable venture by combining passion for Pokemon, business acumen, access to capital, and the willingness to work hard and smart. Do proper research, contain risks, provide top-notch customer service, and position yourself as an authority. The sky is the limit in the thriving Pokemon card market for those with the proper preparation and work ethic. Just remember – this content is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute financial advice. Please conduct careful due diligence before investing in the Pokemon card market.