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December 02, 2007

How to get a Wii

by Charlene Li

As a parent, I've been privy to the burning question this holiday shopping season -- how do I get my hands on a Wii? I've had one for a while and can honestly say that it is by far the best console for a family with young kids. (Or even for a family where the only kids in the household are the adults!)

The reality is, Wiis will be nearly impossible to find before the holidays given the overwhelming demand and lack of supply. So unless you're willing to pay a 2X premium on eBay or Amazon, you're out of luck. But I have a family friend who is an expert on finding Wiis using a variety of technologies and techniques -- and I thought I'd share some of his techniques with you.

So herewith are my top ten ways on how to score a Wii in the next week or so, both online and in brick & mortar stores. (Shameless plug: I also have one on eBay as a charity auction.)

=====Online Approaches=====

1) Read Fat Wallet. Fat Wallet has an excellent discussion forum that talks about Wii availability. The very first page has some good general information on online/mobile alerts and general availability. Go all the way to the last listed page (it was #581 when I posted) to find the latest buzz. West Coast folks can really benefit, especially on Sunday mornings when some stores release Wiis. This is the groundswell at its best -- supporting each other on the search for that elusive Wii.

2) Use Wiialerts.com and be near a PC. This service sends SMS/Text messages to your phone when an online store has Wiis in stock. For example, Amazon listed Wiis at 10:20pm PT on November 30th and were sold out within 12 minutes. So it pays to be fast, and connected.

3) If you're always online, use XPBargains.com. This site has a Wii Locator that is regularly updated. The trick is getting notified. A few approaches: 1) Use their RSS feed;  2) Use a Firefox plug-in called Check4Change which refreshes the page every 15 seconds and sends a desktop pop-up when something changes on the site. Highlight the first four lines of the listings and C4C will tell you when the status changes; and 3) Set up a desktop alert via Klipfolio -- XPBargains has a tutorial on how to do this.

4) Buy Wii Bundles. I've noticed that online sites like Wal-Mart (thanks to XPBargains) often have Wii bundles with accessories and games, which can cost +$500. If you're intent on getting a console soon, you're going to be paying that much for just the console alone through sellers one eBay/Amazon. You'll also need extra remots/nunchucks and games anyway, so you may as well buy the bundle. Don't like the games? Retailers like Wal-mart appear to be willing to exchange the games, and you may even be able to return them.

=====Offline Approaches=====

5) Use Salescircular.com to plan offline excursions. This is great because it breaks down the Sunday newspaper circulars by geography and then by product. So I can check California listings for Wiis across all retailers on one page. In general, if a retailer advertises it, they have to have a least a few Wiis on hand. The reality is that it could be 2, it could be 50. You just never know.

6) Set your alarm clock. People are getting desperate out there -- Fat Wallet reported Black Friday-like crowds out there this Sunday morning. Your best bet is to head to stores with early opening hours, like ToysRUs. Plan to get there 2-4 hours ahead of time. Some stores hand out vouchers before opening -- which means you can go home, head to Denny's for breakfast, etc. and come back later in the day to pick up you Wii. Be sure to bring your laptop if you have wireless access -- you'll want to continually check Fat Wallet for access. (Besides, it will keep you warm too!)

7) Recruit at least one other person to go with you, and then Twitter/SMS. If decide to go out for an early morning hunt, then try to find someone else to go out with you. Take separate cars so that you can go to separate stores to check out the situation. Ask the person at the front of the line what the status is -- they will usually tell you if vouchers have been given out, how many units are available. Then text or Twitter your teammates and head off to the next store on your list. Note: If you get there after a friend, don't cut in line! You wouldn't like it someone who was #5 in line suddenly had 4 buddies stroll up an hour before opening, ruining your chances. Do not tempt the ire of Wii-feverish parents!

8) Don't give up too early. You get there with 20 people ahead of you in line. They tell you that employees have shared they have only 20 Wiis in stock. Don't leave yet! On Black Friday, I was at a GameStop in Stockton with family members who were 35 or so in line when only 20 Wiis were available. They didn't hand out vouchers, so they stood in line for an hour. As they snaked up to the front, people were leaving with only a game or two in hand, bypassing the chance to buy a Wii. Two family members got the last two Wiis. So you never know.

9) Rely on the kindness of strangers and by kind to store employees. In many ways, the success of the groundswell -- both online and offline -- is that strangers are so willing to help each other when they are united by a quest, especially when you're standing at 5am outside a store. Bring a thermos of coffee -- and extra cups. Offer to hold places in line for each other for Starbucks breaks. And best of all, share and hear the stories of the people in line. There are other techniques, such as harassing store employees to tell you what time deliveries are made -- don't bother. They can't/won't tell you because of security reasons and frankly, many don't know. And they often have to stand in the very same lines you do to get their Wiis.

=====Shameless Plug=====

10) Buy the Wii I have up for charity auction. I braved the crowds on Black Friday and was first in line at a GameStop that morning, so snagged a Wii. My goal - to sell the Wii on eBay for the Ngererit School in Kenya that my husband and I support. We visited it 5 years ago and were struck by the desperate need for a new building.  So if you're going to just go ahead and buy a Wii at a premiumn anyway, I hope you'll consider buying this unit as the profits go towards funding a school, rather than into someone's pocket.   


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» Just to get a Wii from Marketing Pop Culture
Some of you out there have wee ones--or not so wee ones--on your holiday list who have requested a Wii. Even at this early date, there is some product scarcity. One of my colleagues told me that the Toys R [Read More]



Nintendo is offering to replace the original version of the wrist straps for the Wii Remote with a newer version. Because Wii consoles shipped starting in early December already utilized the newer version of the strap, you will need to determine which version of the strap you have before ordering a replacement.

Free Wii

Hi. Just for your UK readers, struggling to buy a Wii for Christmas - we're pleased to announce that we currently have plenty of Wii stock at Carphone Warehouse, and are giving them away for free with contract mobile phones.

Please see http://shop.carphonewarehouse.com/?CODE=FREEWII&PORTAL=CONSUMER&URL=pay-monthly/all/?SEARCH=wii&TAG=1 to buy online.

To guarantee delivery before Christmas, you will need to order on or before the 6th of December.

Thanks, The Carphone Warehouse Online Team

Daniel Honigman

Charlene -

These are certainly good suggestions. You forgot #11 - drop your business card in every contest for a free Wii and hope you win one!

I happened to be lucky one day when I walked into a GameStop and they had one left. (It probably wasn't the last one in Chicago, but who knows?)

Amit Kheterpal

I Posted your comments on my site, hoping that some people will definitely be interested in buying a Wii Nintendo Online through E-bay or Amazon , even at that high price. It is definitely a great Christmas Gift

Jennifer Berk

Re #8, you might be interested in a story about Wii Options Markets from CNBC yesterday. People are snagging spots early in line and then selling their vouchers to those farther back. Impressively self-organizing system - and a lucrative one.

Bill Ishman

In search of wii
My search started in mid-october when my 10 year old son asked for a wii for Christmas. I knew from the start that I had to find him one because of the connection with my name. You see, my name is William Isaac Ishman with my initials being WII and my sons name being William Isaac Ishman the 2nd, WII 2. As a matter of fact my wife refers to us as wii 1 and wii 2. Every weekend in October and November my time was spent searching all stores in the city I live in, including walmart,toys r us, best buy,circuit city,comp USA and many others with no results. I spent hours standing in lines and even witnessed a fight in best buy, when two elderly men reached for the last wii. When December arrived I was about to tell my son that their would probably be no wii for Christmas this year, but first I wanted to give the online stores a try. I check all of the big box stores, always with the same results"out of stock". I ended up checking a couple of the wii tracker sites, and their it was at amazon.com "in stock". Amazon was selling the wii for $250.00 that morning. I immediately went to their site and purchased one.It was worth every penny just to see the look on my sons (wii 2) face Christmas morning. The wii trackers had really done the job for me.



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Here is my tip which got me a Wii in two days.


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