Monday, January 28, 2008

How to Buy Four Nintendo Wii Systems In Just Four Weeks, Part 1

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

this wii is mine, line starts over there

Photo by Random J

Ah, the Nintendo Wii—quite possibly the greatest invention God ever told Japan to make. If you’re one of the unlucky fools whose child put this on his or her Christmas list last year, then you may have your own horror story of hunting down one of these marvelous machines. You see, because Nintendo insists on making each unit by hand, meticulously crafting each transistor and microchip, they are only able to produce one Wii each day, five days a week. Because of this, only five million Wii systems have been produced to date, while approximately five trillion people want one. (In case my fictitious math is off, please assume that Nintendo also has access to a time machine.)

A number of internet entrepreneurs (French for “get rich quick scammers”) have made a pretty penny reselling the Wii, snapping it up at the retail price of $250 and offloading it on eBay or Craigslist for upwards of $1,000. A recent survey of Wii owners revealed that, in 2007, only 34 people actually purchased a Wii to play it; the rest simply bought one to resell it at a high price.

Despite the fact that the Wii was released over a year ago, there appears to be no end in sight for the Wii drought. Indeed, January 2008 has seen the worst of the shortage, even worse than the week before Christmas 2007. Many unfortunate upper-middle-class children found no Wii under their trees this past holiday season, and many parents who promised “you’ll get it in January” will end up being made liars.

When a DC-area anime convention for which I volunteer my time asked if I could help them find four Wii systems at retail price in just four weeks, I responded with a very emphatic “maybe!” With a deadline of January 31st, I set out on my perilous journey. Here is a log of my voyage… a voyage of untold agony, unexpected surprises, and plenty of scantily-clad bikini models.

January 5, 2008

Day One. My mission is simple, in theory: procure four Wii systems at retail price in 26 days. That’s, like, one Wii every 6.5 days. Surely I can find one Wii a week, right?

January 6, 2008, 2 a.m.

I’m sitting in front of a Best Buy in 18-degree weather. Rumor on the street is that they’ll be getting a shipment of 10-20 Wii systems today. Like at most stores, Best Buy is limiting Wii sales to one per person, so my wife graciously volunteered to come with me so we can knock out two Wii systems with one visit. No one else is in line yet, so our chances are looking pretty good.

January 6, 2008, 5:30a.m.

A homeless man came by and offered us some blankets and coffee. I called him a bum and threw a shoe at him; he ran away with my shoe. I… don’t think he’s coming back. Could really use those blankets right about now. The bank across the street has an electronic sign that displays the current temperature: 12 degrees, but I can open a new 5% CD today.

January 6, 2008, 7:15a.m.

I lost my wife a few minutes ago. She was a brave woman, but her fragile body just couldn’t survive in the harshness of a Maryland winter. She will be sorely missed.

January 6, 2008, 7:45a.m.

Found her. She was sitting in the car. Not sure why I didn’t think of doing that.

January 6, 2008, 7:55a.m.

No sooner did I embrace the relative warmth and security of my automobile than 23 people materialized in front of the Best Buy. Back to the line I go! Yes wife, you’re coming too.

January 6, 2008, 10:55a.m.

This is it! In five short minutes, those doors will open, and I shall meet my desti-Wii! Yes, seven hours in the cold and that’s the best Wii pun I could think of.

January 6, 2008, 11:30a.m.

Back home now, Wii-less. Turns out that store wasn’t getting any units, and everyone else was standing in line for the hottest DVD of the year: The Land Before Time 23: Find Out How We Worked Dinosaurs Into 15th Century England For Just $24.99.

Next Time: Taking the Search to the Interwebs

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