Our top-of-the-home-page story on Yu Gi Oh yesterday (see 'Yu Gi Oh is White Hot!') brought in this response from Bill Eckman of Classic Cards & Comics in Castle Rock, Colorado.
I'm a retailer with two pop culture stores, both located in small towns. I'm always on the look out for the next 'hot' thing. There've been a few over the last couple of years: Pokemon, Mage Knight, DBZ, LOTR, Magi-Nation, Star Wars (decipher). There's also been a host of things that never really lived up to their potential: Harry Potter, Recharge, Looney Tunes, X-Men, Tomb Raider, Disk Wars, Digimon, Babylon 5, Star Trek.
I would venture to guess that at some point, every retailer got stuck with at least one of these 'hot' products. That's a risk we take in trying to gauge what will sell. Sometimes you guess right, sometimes wrong. Consequently, you learn to err on the side of caution when the next 'hot' thing comes along. In my case I saw the solicitations for Yu Gi Oh, did some background research and decided to order a few boxes to see how it would go. Several months go by, Yu Gi Oh starts to get some 'buzz', customers begin asking about and for it (this is usually a sign that the initial demand will be good). I decide to order a few more boxes a few weeks before Yu Gi Oh is due out. So the product release date arrives and I get one whole box of starters and boosters. My distributors (yes, that's plural) all inform me that the product has been allocated based on the size of your initial order. Since none of my orders was large, my allocation wasn't either. I can live with this, since I'm used to allocations occurring.
My initial boxes of Yu Gi Oh went in the first two days. Since then I've had almost daily inquiries about the cards. What I haven't had is anything to sell. The distributors don't have anything to fill the rest of my order with. Upper Deck hasn't seen fit or wasn't prepared to go back to press. So I've got a demand for Yu Gi Oh, but nothing to fill it with. No one, including Upper Deck, seems to have any concrete news on when more will be available. So I've got to question whether Yu Gi Oh is really 'white hot' or whether its scarcity is causing what demand there is to seem exaggerated.
I'd certainly like to see another phenomenon like Pokemon, but without cards to fan that flame the fire is going to go out.