Two stores in Japan are making sure their merchandise ends up in the hands of Pokémon and Mobile Suit Gundam fans, not scalpers.
As originally reported by SoraNews24, one branch of Yodobashi Camera -- which is one of Japan's largest hobby and electronics retailers -- implemented a new policy last month to discourage the scalping of Pokémon cards. Customers entering the store are now greeted by a sign that reads, "Notice regarding box purchases of Pokémon card game cards. In order to allow as many customers as possible to make purchases, we are implementing countermeasures against resellers. If you are purchasing a box of cards, the shrink wrap will be removed before you are given your purchase."
Mickey, a toy store in Nagoya, implemented a similar idea for its plastic models. Signage now hangs from the store's shelves, stating, "To purchasers of plastic models: As a countermeasure against resellers, for certain Gundam models and other low-inventory items, at the time of purchase the staff will open the interior part pouches and cut away a portion of the plastic runners. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation." For those not well-versed in the jargon of plastic model making, runners are the frames that hold sheets of model pieces together.
For better or worse, scalping is a reality of the merchandising industry and involves buying up the supplies of rare fan-oriented items and reselling the items online for inflated prices in order to make a profit. Scalpers have become more active throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the demand for stay-at-home entertainment has risen.
While countermeasures against scalping can be difficult to implement for a number of reasons, Mickey and Yodobashi Camera seem to have come up with effective ideas. By removing the shrink wrap from Pokémon cards and cutting away portions of the models' runners, the stores are transitioning the items from "new" to "used" before they even leave the premises. "Used" items are much harder to flip for profit than "new" items; thus, the scalpers' jobs become much harder.
Moreover, Mickey and Yodobashi Camera's countermeasures do not adversely affect customers who plan to actually use their new Pokémon cards or build the Gundam models. Those customers have to remove the shrink wrap and clip the runners anyway; so, one can argue that the stores are actually saving genuine fans some time and hassle.
Both stores have received substantial positive feedback from their customers and online commenters. Currently, it is unknown if any other stores in Japan or even other countries plan to follow the example of Mickey and Yodobashi Camera.