The popularity of Pokémon cards is on the rise in Iceland, Gunnar Valur G. Hermannsson, the owner of PokeHöllin, a small store selling playing cards in Glæsibær, told told Fréttablaðið.
Popularity in Iceland
The Pokémon franchise was created by Japanese company Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Over the years countless card games, video games, books, movies, television series, board games, toys and memorabilia have been produced for the fandom. Chief among the collector’s items are the iconic Pokémon trading cards.
Gunnar told the news outlet that he’s began selling off his old collection of cards to the United States and Europe in 2017. In October 2020, he began a Facebook page to sell the cards to Icelandic players. It was through that venture that he met Reynir Sigurvin Brynjólfsson and Barði Páll Böðvarsson, who now run PokeHöllin with Gunnar and Hlynur Örn Ómarsson.
Interest in Pokémon has seen its ups and downs in Iceland (and around the world) over the years. First, it was wildly popular here–as it was in many parts of the world–in its early years, only beginning to wane between 2003-2006. However, Barði told a journalist for Fréttablaðið that unopened packages of cards produced during that time are incredibly valuable now as they were printed in small editions.
The years 2010 and 2011 saw another low point in Pokémon’s popularity here. This took a sharp turn and began to rebound when Pokémon Go, the beloved mobile game, was released in 2016 when a love for the game began to reach new generations and a wider audience.
Buying and selling cards
Due to this renewed interest, there has been a boom in the market for these cards lately. Pokémon cards are sometimes being bought and sold for extraordinary prices. Individual rare cards can sell for up to several million ISK, and often in the tens of thousands ISK. One such card features the Charizard character from the first version of the cards that first appeared in 1999. Reynir believes there are only 117 cards of this type in good condition in the world. “This card is the king of the market,” he says.
PokeHöllin buy and sell cards to customers of all ages. Barði shares that they typically see three kinds of customers: those interested in investing, those who are playing the game and those who simply enjoy opening the card packs to see what they get.
Sometimes people arrive to PokeHöllin with their old collections of cards and the owners enjoy looking through for those “gold nugget” cards, ones that are valuable and in good condition. Unfortunately, they often also hear stories of parents accidentally throwing away these card collections, not understanding their value. They have even contacted Sorpa in hopes of retrieving discarded cards, to no avail.
What’s next for PokeHöllin? They are considering expanding into sports cards from basketball to NFL and everything in between. Reynir divulges that these cards are actually more popular and more expensive than what’s seen in the world of Pokémon card trading.
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