The scalping situation with Pokémon cards is insurmountable if people continue to feed the scalpers. My visit to Meijer at their pre-arranged TCG sale time of 3PM Friday had a long line of very homogenous resellers, not a single kid, player or fan in sight as far as I could tell based on the very blasé facial expressions and stuffed bags of merch ready-to-scalp in hand on their way out to expensive large vehicles. 3PM means most older fans/players would still be at work. 3PM means most kids are en route from school to home. 3PM means most moms are driving to pick up kids from school. Compared to other retailers, where merch was put out at opening, that’s not much better for chances to get cards, as the Target clerk said there was a line of what appeared to him to be “retailers” waiting. Obviously I was unable to purchase anything at any mass retailers and shelves have been bare for months and will remain so unless people STOP. Feeding. Scalpers!
Luckily, I have flex time, so I made a frenzy of calls around and managed to track down a First Partner Pack. I didn’t open it until the next day. It was a bittersweet victory. The elation I felt at pulling an Espeon GX was followed by the realization that kids and other fans aren’t able to experience this at the moment due to scalping. I normally buy very little new product as I’ve collected (but never resold) since 1999 and have plenty of cards to entertain me, cards of which I was enamored due to the beautiful artwork and whimsy. The idea of clearing off a shelf isn’t in my psyche. I quipped to the Meijer manager directing the event to which I wouldn’t have been able to get to in time to stand in line (they said people [resellers] waited at least 3 hours in queue!), “so I have a 25th anniversary binder and can’t get cards to put into it!” For some reason, the binders were not being snatched up in the same way, although I have seen them scalped on e-Bay.
People are also currently frustrated with the Squishmallows scalping situation, but it is nowhere near the level of Pokémon cards. I am not a Squishmallows collector, rather I love bunnies and koalas and plush in general, so when I saw the cute plush, I sought the animals or characters that appealed to me, but didn’t touch other items, some of which were “hot” (I saw the “hot” cow Squishmallow, but passed on it, not in this to resell!). Getting the items you enjoy is hard work. Lots of phone calls, a bit of driving, sometimes far, making sure to combine trips so I’m getting groceries or running errands in conjunction with buying any toys in order to be safe, save gas, etc. Let the phone do the work for COVID safety. To that effect, I most certainly have to say THANK YOU to a lot of kind, patient folks who have been fielding unprecedented levels of phone inquiries due to COVID, Pokémon cards, Squishmallows, website issues, etc. Please, be kind and courteous to the folks on the phone, it’s not their fault if the items you want aren’t available—a lot of the problem is people buying from resellers, please don’t do it, most especially not from scalpers! A little kindness goes a long way. As you can see by my photos, I went from two to over twenty Squish in the last few weeks, all animals or characters I love, avoiding buying anything that wasn’t of personal interest and obeying quantity limits so other people may enjoy, too! Plush toys are really needed during the pandemic, I’ve read online articles about how they provide comfort to people of all ages; I can’t afford another house rabbit at the moment (vet bills are high for rabbits, which are considered “exotics” by vets) and I am an elder orphan essentially, so the plush are a bright spot in my little corner of the world. Here’s my big THANK YOU list:
- The Guardtower
- Amy’s Hallmark
- Claire’s (thank you Rachel!)
- Five Below
Squishmallows’ website has a list of retailers, obviously I purchased from others, too, but the above were the ones that went out of their way to provide exceptional customer service and phone support in my quest. I don’t have insider connections or use employees to gain advantage; I will say that employees are happy to provide help to customers that treat them with courtesy and respect and having a rapport with clerks long before you have a dire want goes a long way. Most of the clerks I know don’t like scalpers any more than fans do and are wise to whom is there to try to clear off shelves. Most of the clerks I know state they are enforcing quantity limits, but even so, if you have a long line of resellers, stuff sells out quickly.
The rainbow koala Squish was another sort of grail find for me, Squishmallows is trying to get more product out so items that were previously sold out are getting restocked. Not sure where Pokémon is in their quest to restock, but I’m hoping the scalpers are buried in a pile of cards they can’t resell—but in the end, that’s up to us to stop it. Do you miss opening a sealed pack of cards and having that oooh moment? I know that’s part of the fun. And so is finding that grail Squishmallow at the bottom of a bin. 😊