Trading card boom incites the startup culture of niche business ventures

Alaister Low, Authentication, Luxuries & Collectibles at eBay Australia

Collectors, flippers and investors are driving a boom in the Aussie trading card market with data from eBay, revealing a 649% growth in sports trading cards like NBA and a 365% growth in collectible card games including Pokémon in the first three months of 2022.

The uplift comes following COVID when sales of collectible card games went up 7,769% YoY in December 2020 thanks to a Pokémon resurgence driven by childhood nostalgia, people spending more time at home cleaning out their cupboards and the cancellation of live sports.

eBay Australia’s trading card expert, Alaister Low said, “Majority of cards sold on eBay are Pokémon, followed by sports cards, influenced by a growing NBA obsession. This is reflected in a 1,050% increase in NBA trading card sales. Trading cards represent a moment in time and as a leader in trading cards and e-commerce, eBay is home to passionate enthusiasts.”

What are people buying collectable cards?

Pokémon cards experienced 300% growth. The most popular cards feature Charizard and Pikachu, while the most valuable card sold on in the past 12 months was a 1999 Pokémon Base Set Complete Collection featuring manufacturing errors for more than AUD $85,000. Marvel cards have also seen a 413% growth in sales over the past two years.

In the sporting category, NBA is the firm favourite. The highest priced card sold in Australia in the last year was an ultra-rare 2018-19 Prizm Luka Doncic Rookie Card (Dallas Mavericks) for AUD $140,000. There’s also been a spike in the past three months in Aussie sports like NRL (2,080%) and AFL (337%). Trading card popularity also reflects real time moments.

From March 2021-22, NBA trading cards with Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns increased in value by 500% and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies by 350%. Since the Golden State Warriors’ victory in June, eBay sales of Stephen Curry trading cards bounced 170%.

Where are the buyers located?

Victoria leads with the most buyers and sellers nationwide followed by New South Wales. However, when it comes to specific areas, eBay’s top five postcodes for buying are predominantly in south-west Sydney (2170, 2560 – Liverpool, Campbelltown, etc.) and the outer suburbs of Melbourne City (3023, 3037, 3337 – Deer Park, Hillside, Melton, etc.).

Nate Tran, collector and Founder of iCollected on eBay, said the boom has helped provide an incubator for entrepreneurs. “What started as a project from my bedroom at age 17, trying to find those final cards for my Pokémon collection, has turned into a full time business. I’ve sold half a million items and shipped 250,000 trading card parcels across the globe,” he said.

Low added, “The industry has evolved from its 1860s origins as collectibles in cigarette packs and with the rise of metaverse, the market is changing. eBay has played a pivotal role in supporting the trading card movement and we can’t wait to see what’s next. There’s a story behind every trading card and there’s nothing like getting your hands on that gem of a find!”

Aussies can buy and sell sport trading cards and collectible trading cards on