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My Wii Launch Day Story

It was the big day. No, I’m definitely not talking about the Notre Dame v. Army game. Saturday, November 18, 2006 was the day before the launch of Wii and every gamer across the United States was preparing to buy a system. The PlayStation 3 had just launched the day before with reports of robberies, shootings, long lines and limited supplies. I entered the day optimistic that I would get a Wii without effort, but as the day dragged on, I began to realize the enormity of the situation.

My original plan was to buy Wii at Meijer the midnight of launch. For those that have never heard of Meijer, it is a store like Wal-Mart that is only located in the Midwest. I heard from a friend around five that they were giving systems out by a ticket system, so I would have to be there as early as eight to be guaranteed a system. I decided to call all of our local Meijer stores, but could not get through. I knew that GameSpot, EB and Game Crazy would all be sold out from pre-orders and decided to call Wal-Mart. Each of the four local Wal-Mart stores were already forming lines as early as 5 p.m.

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I hopped in the car and drove to Meijer. When I noticed that there weren’t any lines outside, I got excited. I walked into the store and everything seemed normal. Not too large of a crowd, and no commotion. Heading towards the video game section, I knew something was wrong when I saw a handful of gamers in the section. I asked an old lady who worked there if they were selling Wii at midnight. “We passed out all of the numbers last night,” she responded. “You mean, you took pre-orders?” I asked. “No, I don’t know what that is. They took all of the numbers.”

It seems that Meijer broke their “first come, first serve” policy with the launch of Wii. I had previously bought a PlayStation Portable there without problem on the night of launch in March 2005. This year was different though. All four Wal-Marts had more than 30 people waiting outside in the cold by 7 p.m., more people than the allotment of consoles. All four Meijer locations were sold out the night before from tickets passed out. My hope of getting a Wii by launch were dwindling.

An idea came to mind. Not all stores were selling a Wii Saturday at midnight. Some (ones that aren’t open 24/7) would sell their stock Sunday morning. Best Buy, Circuit City and Toys R Us would all be jammed pack, so I decided to stick to my Target on the South Side of South Bend. I was planning on going to Meijer with a load of friends, so we would just tent out at Target until the break of dawn. But not on an empty stomach. We headed to Steak and Shake, where the midnight rush of people was already underway.

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By the time we got to Target, there was already about 20 people lined up….a full eight hours before the Wii went on sale. Thankfully we had dropped Isaac off at Target before we went to eat, so we were 10th in that line for Wii. The first hour was spent playing Texas Hold ‘Em with a poker set of chips and cards that I had bought earlier in the night. Mark bought a 12 pack of Mountain Dew, but what he didn’t realize is that it was caffeine free, defeating the entire purpose of buying the Mountain Dew in the first place.

Poker came and went fast. As the 2 o’clock hour came, we brought out the blankets and stretched out. It was a cold 30 something degrees and began drizzling lightly. To pass the time we conversed with the people in the line next to us. One of the guys, Mark (not to be confused with my friend), we nicknamed “Baby” for rolling himself up tightly in a blanket like an Eskimo and laughing at our jokes. He was nice enough to buy us some pastries from Starbucks. Everyone that I spoke to planned on buying Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and it seemed to be the main motivation to buy the system.

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As daylight neared, everyone got up and stretched. We began to pack our bags shortly before 7 a.m. as Target would begin passing out tickets that would reserve us a Wii console until noon Sunday. Everyone was tired, cold and anxious to get back to their cars. We got our ticket, headed to Andrew’s truck and went back to my place to warm up before 8 a.m. rolled around. We were all exhausted, but anticipation for Wii was intense.

By the time we got back to Target, most people were already in line. I bought Red Steel, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Excite Truck, as well as an extra Wiimote and nunchuk. Sorry for the anti-climactic ending, but I didn’t get my Wii…at least not until 10 a.m. My debit card got flagged for a fraud alert, so I had to run back home to get my checkbook. The moral of the story: always carry checks with you when you want something badly. They may bounce, but they won’t stop you from getting a Wii.

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