Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to Buy Four Nintendo Wii Systems In Just Four Weeks, Finale

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it turns blue when i push the power button

Last Time: Epic Battle

January 30, 2008, 8:30a.m.

Only 24 hours remained until my deadline for finding those last three Wii systems. After that, the anime convention I worked for would have to rent them instead—at nearly full retail price for just one week’s rental period. I was determined not to let that happen, but the single Wii I had procured so far simply sat in the corner of my living room and laughed at me.

“What the matter, Nick?” said the Wii. “Can’t find me any friends? Why don’t you give up and go back to playing with your own Wii? Loser!”

As tempted as I was to throw that Wii through a window, I realized that would have set my count back at zero once again. Instead, I decided it was time to kick the search into high gear.

January 30, 2008, 10:30a.m.

Two hours later, I had finished programming the numbers for every EBGames, GameStop, Best Buy, Circuit City, and every other potential sellers of Wii into my phone. I programmed them in order of distance from my home, out to a radius of 12 miles. I even put together a cute little map with push-pins and concentric circles that would cause any stranger on the street to think I was hunting down a serial killer. In a way, I was; only the killer was not one of people but one of every second of my free time.

I started a round of phone calls after a quick lunch break. I got about halfway through the list with no success when suddenly I started getting answers like “Yup, we’ve got one in stock” or “We have a few left.” In fact, I received three such answers. I could get this quest done today with a little luck.

I managed to convince each of the three stores to hold one Wii system for an hour in my name, but it wasn’t until I consulted the push-pin map that I realized it would take me 52 minutes just to drive between all of them. I realized I needed some help, so I whipped out my little black book and started calling people who owed me favors over the years. About 10 minutes later, I realized I had been using the Yellow Pages section for “chiropractors” instead of my little black book, but my posture had improved 20% just from speaking with them.

Realizing I was on my own for this one, I ran to the car and set course for the nearest store.

January 30, 2008, 12:15p.m.

Picking up the first two Wii systems was rather anti-climactic, unless you consider the armed robbery taking place at the first one and the unexpected crossover with the cast of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit to be climactic. Regardless, I had Wii systems #2 and #3, and the only store left in the area with one in stock was at a shopping mall just one traffic light away.

As I entered the mall parking lot, I was faced with turning left—a route I was vaguely familiar with from the single time I had been to this mall—or going right. Choosing familiarity over my gut instinct, I went left and parked in front of a JCPenney department store. As I madly dashed through the first floor’s maternity section, I glanced at my watch and calculated that my hour-long hold time would expire in seven minutes. “Plenty of time,” I said aloud.

Inside the mall proper, I located a directory map to confirm my suspected location of the mall’s videogame store as one level directly above my current location. I found the “You Are Here” sticker immediately, and the map listing for the game store under the “Entertainment” category placed it in location D5. I was right—D5 was one level up from me… on the far end of the mall.

With six minutes left, I began to calculate just how long it would take me to climb the stares and run the entire length of the mall. Since the map had no scale, I had to extrapolate one by estimating the size of the nearby Hallmark storefront and comparing it to the store’s representation on the map. By my estimate, the Hallmark store measured 25 feet while its picture was an inch. The “You Are Here” and “D5” looked to be about 34 inches apart, so that meant I’d have about 850 feet (plus the height of the stairs) to travel. I guessed that I could run 500 feet a minute, but when I glanced at my watch and realized I had spent the last five minutes and 50 seconds doing math, I determined that I would need to average a distance of 850 feet in ten seconds to make in there on time.

So I did that (more or less) and threw myself onto the counter of the videogame store in D5. Out of breath and unable to spout even a single word to help the clerk identify my purpose, I simply motioned toward my crotch.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “You want a Wii. Yeah, we have plenty left.”

“I’m… huff… sorry?”

“Yeah, we got a shipment of 30 today and only sold two of them so far. How many do you want?”


After that day, the Wii became much easier to find. While that store in the mall sold all 30 of its units by that evening, finally had them back in stock shortly after. The anime convention’s treasurer kindly informed me that he saw plenty of them in stock at a Wal-Mart the following week, but he was unable to find even one Xbox 360 due to new supply problems from Microsoft.

As for me, I haven’t played 10 seconds of any videogames whatsoever since the ordeal ended. But now that this story has been told, I think I’ll be able to get back to playing with my Wii sometime soon.

And if you want a dirty joke out of that last line, you’re out of luck because I’m giving up on the Wii puns (and the big puns too).

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