ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — If you drive past big-box stores early on Friday mornings, you might see lines of people reminiscent of Black Friday. But they’re not waiting for door-buster deals–they’re traders looking for unique finds.

Tradings cards have always been a hot commodity. But because of the pandemic, getting your hands on them is proving difficult. One collector drove from Wisconsin to Rockford just for a few packs of cards.

“Yeah there’s not many places to get cards in Janesville,” said sports card shopper Zachary Denny.

Zachary Denny waited in line for an hour at the Rockford Target for a pack of sports trading cards.
The store only puts them out Friday morning. He says the waiting game is frustrating.

“We went to the Target about an hour before they opened. When we go in there, since we’re kind of towards the back of the line, we don’t really get a whole lot for cards. It’s kind of disappointing when you wait outside for an hour and then not get anything to come up from it,” said Denny.

Rick Giddings owns Gizmo’s Sportscards in Davis Junction. After working in the industry for over 30 years. He says he’s never seen the demand for sports cards quite like this.

“People are at home. Everybody’s in their basement, people are staying in their basements. Everybody’s masking up, obviously with the pandemic, people are spending their money, even their stimulus checks,” Giddings said. “Everybody wants to get involved, everybody still loves sports and the thing they look back on is their pastime.”

And it turns out, Giddings says buying from retail stores in-person is the best way to make money.

“When you see people waiting in line at Walmart’s and they’re buying a box for $21. They come to me and I can buy it directly and they sell it to me for $40. They know darn well they can sell it for $65 or $80. That’s what’s going on.”

“I grew up collecting sports cards so it’s kind of just that nostalgia of like opening packs and just started Pokemon with my girlfriend. So, we kinda enjoy opening up packs and gettin’ something good,” said Denny.

If you want to get your hands on a pack of cards, most stores have one item per guest, per day policy.