A Wii Saga

Before the Nintendo Wii was announced, I knew I would buy one. Call me a Nintendo fanboy if you will, but they make incredible games. Whichever console will play the next Zelda/Metroid/Mario title— I’ll buy it.

So I was dead-set on getting a Wii, and would have pre-ordered it, but the launch date fell on our Thanksgiving vacation trip. So without a guaranteed pre-ordered Wii, I was left searching for one. Despite the fact we were in fairly rural areas on vacation, Wiis were being snatched up as soon as they were put out. That was November 19th.

(In the intervening weeks, I collected everything else I needed for my Wii setup— a couple of games, 2 controllers + chucks and a component video cable. Altogether, $250 plus tax. Note: Wii Play releasing in January will come with a controller.)

Skip to December 15th. Word on the net was that another big Wii release Sunday was coming and if I wanted to get one, I knew what I’d have to do: camp.

I’ve never camped out for a console release before. But, I did it. And let me tell you, it went perfectly.

My wife had a friend whose husband was also wanting to buy one, so we decided to go together. We both scouted around to find places that were giving real numbers as to how many they were selling on Sunday. We set out at 10 PM on Saturday to secure a spot.

The first place we tried was a Target store. They had a few in line already, so we decided to go to a nearby EB Games store. There were three guys there already, and I knew that store had 6 Wiis for sale, so we stopped looking there.

Expecting 6!

Fortunately, the assistant manager was closing up the store as we arrived, so he saw us and took note of our position in line. He was also going to oversee the sales the next morning. We also found out that the three guys in line already were actually there for the PlayStation 3 systems also selling on Sunday. So, we wound up being the first and second people in line for a Wii!

A couple of eighth-graders were dropped off to take 3rd and 4th Wii spots. One of them curled up and went to sleep; the other must have drunk 3 of those 18-ounce energy drinks through the night. I think he was worried someone would take his spot if he fell asleep.

Another Wii spot was taken by an older lady who was getting one for her nephew (she had already camped for Wiis on 3 other occasions— once successfully for her son).

At 1 AM some jerks drove by to tease us saying there was no line at the Target store. Ha ha. The joke was on them since only 5 of the 6 Wii spots had been taken by then.

At 2 AM a couple of guys showed up to wait for the 6th Wii.

It turns out that my camping buddy was also a survivalist! He does a lot of mountain hiking and camping with his family, so he was quite prepared for this little excursion. But I didn’t know exactly how prepared until he broke out his portable camping stove and fried up some bacon and toast for everyone.

Roughing it

The game store we picked was also a great location. It was set in a plaza that had a 24-hour Safeway supermarket (this was the source for the aforementioned bacon and bread). The walkway in front of the game store was well lit— I should have brought a book to read, but I figured it would be dark.

I lost track of the number of people that came by after 2 AM. We consistently told them that all systems here were taken by those already in line, but every fourth or fifth person would wait in that 7th Wii spot, just hoping against odds that the count was wrong. They would leave within an hour though.

By 4 AM, the night was as cold as it was going to get: 28°F. But dawn would break soon. At least there was no wind or rain to deal with.

There was a guilty pleasure that came from turning people away. Early on, you’d think “Awww… how sad— I hope they can find one somewhere else.”. By 6 AM, there was more pleasure than guilt, where you’re thinking “What an idiot— did they really think they could just walk up just before opening and expect to get one?”.

I managed to get a few winks of sleep, but by dawn, I was feeling like a kid— too excited to sleep. I took a break and stopped into the Safeway to get a hot chocolate from the Starbucks they had in the store. Ah… civilization.

The last hour seemed to be the longest one, as we anxiously awaited the opening of the store. But at last, I was at the register being handed my Wii.

Ah, the taste of victory.

We're home!

My Wii friend code is: 1979 0268 9054 2975.

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7 Comments

I have to say to your readers, I called Brad at 7 a.m. worried that I would awaken a cold, exhausted, Wii hungry man. I'd gone to sleep worrying about him, although I felt better knowing he had a Wii camping partner. When he answered his cell, he sounded cheerful! They had a space heater and even made friends throughout the night with fellow campers and passer-bys. I had an awful night. Either a backfire or a BB gun woke up the 2 little ones, so I had to put them back to bed about 3 times each. The last time, our boy wound up in the bed with me.

Brad's Wii camping could not have gone better. I think they were even protected from the wind :)

Brad Author Profile Page said:

Actually, there was no space heater. The portable stove was very small and offered little warmth-- it was just used for cooking the bacon.

I was pretty well cocooned in my sleeping bag, but it was still cold.

Geoff Taylor said:

Congrats!

I too had my eye on the Wii before Nintendo even shared any real details on the system. And I'll be there with anticipation for the next system in (hopefully) 5-6 years. My wife and I stood in line 4 different times with zero luck. We also just bought a house and are closing this week. And she's 32 weeks pregnant. So.. after the 4th night of waiting I got desperate and messaged everyone on ebay in my area that had a Wii up for auction. I gave them all the honest truth and one guy responded, offering his Wii for $270. :) Otherwise, I'd have be out there in 12 degree weather last weekend too.

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Jemaleddin Author Profile Page said:

How exactly did you hear the "word on the net" that they were releasing more on the 15th? I'd love to know the next time a shipment comes around...

Brad Author Profile Page said:

Jemaleddin: one source was Wii Seeker which currently has a rumor that Toys-R-Us will have more units for sale on December 22nd.

Jemaleddin Author Profile Page said:

Thanks - since I'm taking Friday off, that may be how I spend my morning.

PODO said:

Great info, thanks a lot!!! I wish I will have such a writing skills.

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This article was published on December 18, 2006 2:00 PM.

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