I live in Northern New Jersey, somewhere in the wild suburbia of Passaic County. Right next door is Bergen County, home to more malls and shopping destinations per square mile than you could imagine. And on top of that, they have something called Blue Laws. Those are laws that govern what can and cannot be sold on Sundays. Originally it was a religious thing. Now, it’s kept by the community — they seem to vote on it every other year — as a way to lower traffic in their area and have one day of relative sanity. All of the malls close, and all of the malls over the border in New York State and in Passaic County have huge crowds as people just go elsewhere.
So when all of the stores in Passaic County sell out of the Wii on Sunday, there’s a backup plan: Shop Bergen County on Monday.
I went to the Best Buy next to Garden State Plaza yesterday morning. Stood in line for about an hour as #64 or so. They had 84 units. They gave tickets out at 9:00 and the sale started at 10:00.
Here’s the funnier thing: Around twenty minutes to nine, people started streaming out of the mall with Wiis. There are three different gaming stores in the mall. Each had a healthy supply of Wiis in stock. (Stories ranged from 80 to 200 per store.) Each had very small lines. None were worried about selling out before the mall proper opened at 10. So, just to cover my bets, I stayed in line to get my ticket, then went over to the mall. I had ticket #47. Other people ran to the mall and never came back for a ticket, so I “moved up” in the line.
In the end, I was able to purchase a Wii for me, and a Wii for a friend. No problem. I probably could have picked up two more if I wanted to.
The Best Buy line was quite the experience. Very busy, and very slow despite six checkers running registers. The employees running the thing were friendly and helpful, though one seemed convinced that you couldn’t save any games to your local machine and so HAD to buy an SD card. (Wrong.)
I saw first hand the shortage of nunchuks. Did Nintendo not expect developers to use the Nunchuk? I wasn’t able to buy an extra one, though I had no problem buying a spare Wiimote.
They also ran out of the classic controller very quickly. Didn’t see any wires of any kind (component or sVideo) anywhere.
Best Buy had the 84 units lined up and labelled with numbers on the top, so your ticket matched a specific box. I think they had plenty leftover at 11:00, as many people who picked up a ticket ended up at the mall to grab one and just went home.
I only bought one game – SUPER MONKEYBALL. In talking to people in line around me and hearing what they had to say, I thought I’d go for it first, rather than the rabbits game whose name I can never remember. I’ll put MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE and that rabbits game and RED STEEL on my Christmas list. ELEBITS may make it, too. Best Buy had a $5 off coupon for MONKEYBALL, so I saved a buck somewhere on the day.
And the credit card company didn’t give me a problem for buying two video game consoles on the same day. Usually, I imagine that’s a flag for a stolen credit card.
So, to sum it all up: Being able to “camp out” in line on a day when all the adults are at work (I had some overtime I could cash in to go to work late) and all the kids are in school is a very good thing. Sure, it was a little cold, but once the numbness set in, who cared? ;-)
The lines were all friendly, like a pack of kids on Christmas morning. We all chatted about our horror stories in not getting one on Sunday. We talked games, shopping, computers, life. . . It was fun.
But then I had to go to work. And then bowling. I didn’t rip into the Wii until 10:00 last night. More on that a little later.