CALGARY -- The sports card industry has experienced somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, but demand has exploded in the last three months during the pandemic.

Mike Davis, owner of Eastridge Sports Cards and Games said, “We can’t keep up with the demand, especially in the basketball and football market.”

Recently, an autographed Mike Trout rookie card sold at auction for $922, 500 USD, setting a new record for a modern day trading card.

Davis said the renewed interest is due to a number of reasons. Sports cards are becoming an increasingly attractive investment.

“There is a collectors aspect, but there’s also an investment aspect to it,” said Davis, “At the end of the day, you have something tangible and a lot of people have an emotional connection to the players.”

Jeremy Lee, a collector and investor, agrees.

“To me, they’re very attractive because you have control over what you’re holding,” he said, “You know what’s going on with the athletes who are on the cards versus the managers of the businesses whose stock you may invest in."

Lee added that restrictions due to the pandemic also led investors towards sports cards, “A lot of buyers and collectors weren’t spending money on travel and other things because they couldn’t. So they had all this money available and turned to sports cards because it connects us to the athletes and our favourite teams.”

Davis said the shift in viewing sports cards as investments coupled with the lack of sports during the pandemic has driven demand even higher.

Lee, who’s also a host of a YouTube channel that discusses the industry with other industry insiders, said the documentary series The Last Dance’was a major contributor. Co-produced by Netflix and ESPN, The Last Dance followed Michael Jordan through his final season with the Chicago Bulls. Without live sports, it was released earlier than scheduled to take advantage of a huge programming hole for ESPN, earning sky-high ratings.

“All of the anticipation for that started driving up the value of Michael Jordan cards and his teammates,” said Lee, “And it ended up driving up the values of other cards as well.”

Davis said even cards that don’t hold much value due to an oversupply from the mid-80s to mid-90s, known as the Junk Wax era, are enjoying a bump in value.