(I was tempted to title this post “Wii don’t need a Guitar Hero” but figured it was too off-topic. Besides, who even recognizes Tina Turner nowadays?)
Here’s your problem in a nutshell. You’ve been reading about the Wii (and suffering the puns) for about a year. You’ve played it at someone’s house, and you’re hooked – your kids love it, your parents love it, and the graphics aren’t that bad (and not really even the point). And you haven’t even dipped your toe into the wonderful nostalgia of the Virtual Console yet! So it’s decided. You want a Wii. Wii welcome you!
Now all you have to do is find one.
Don’t despair. True, the task seems positively Sisyphean: even though Nintendo is manufacturing 2 million Wiis a month, with 350,000 Wiis sold the week after thanksgiving alone, even the President of Nintendo of America couldn’t score one. The Wii is the hottest item on everyone’s wishlist this Christmas. So what chance do you have?
Two words: persistence, and vigilance.
First, scope out every retail venue that sells the Wii in your neighborhood. These Wiitailers have to be within a 15-20 minute drive of your home. The usual suspects: Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Toys R Us, Gamestop. There may be smaller fry in your area too – make a comprehensive list of every single possible outlet. Get their phone numbers and figure out the phone menu on each to get connected straight to the electronics/gaming desk. Write all that contact info down in one place for easy reference.
Next, visit each one. Talk to the staff behind the desk and get an idea of when their shipments usually come in. It will vary, though the big box retailers usually get them on Saturday night. You will hear qualifiers like “well, it’s hard to say exactly when…” but be persistent and get them to give you a rough idea, or at least when the last few shipments were so you can extrapolate. Usually the dudes at the desk are more than willing to help you score a Wii and will give you as much info as they can. Make a point of stopping by at night the day you predict a shipment to arrive, and chat up the staff to see if your hunch is right.
Third, keep an eye on the Sunday paper. A sure fire bet that a given Wiitailer has Wiis in stock that week is that they will advertise the Wii for Sunday. If you can get ahold of the sunday advertisement inserts for the retailers ahead of time, that’s even better – for example you might look for the Sunday paper at your local grocery store on late Saturday evening, or go hunting online at forums like Cheap Ass Gamer.
With all this info in hand, your strategy then is simply to try to anticipate which stores have the Wii and then make the rounds. Sunday morning, as soon as the stores open, go down your list and call every retailer, starting with the ones who have the Wii advertised in their Sunday circular. The conversation should be quick: “Hi any Nintendo Wiis in stock?” The answer will usually be no, the psychotic hard core dudes waiting in line since 4am probably beat you to it. So move on, and keep calling. However, once in a while you will hear the magic words: “Yes, we still have a couple in stock.” That’s when you drop the phone, jump in the car, and go. This might happen once every ten calls; and four out of five times in that case, by the time you get there they will be sold out. But it only takes one lucky roll of the dice.
This sounds like a lot of work, and it is. It took me six weeks to score my Wii last winter. But understand that there are millions more Wiis in the retail channel this year than back then, so your odds are actually substantially better of scoring a Wii this holiday season than pretty much at any time before. You just have to be vigilant, do your due diligence, and then be persistent. Follow this plan of action to the letter and you have a very good chance of finding your Wii by Christmas.
Or, just go for the Vii instead. Who can tell the difference?