On Saturday the 18th I went store-to-store to find out when each was opening and how many un-presold Wiis they would have the following day. I started at the Target, near Emerald Square Mall. They said they had 60 and would be opening at 9:00. Then I went to the Best Buy next door. As my son and I approached the door I saw some camping gear outside, and thought, ‘they don’t sell camping supplies here.’ Than I looked closer and saw it was a line for the Wii. There had been no line at Target (this was around 5:00). Simon had said he wanted to go to bed early so we could get in line early, but with the sun having just set it was already getting too cold. I didn’t want to risk us having to wait weeks so I took Simon to his mother’s place and returned to Best Buy. Best Buy had 86 copies. I assumed Target didn’t want a line of people and I had felt some synergy at Best Buy, which is why I returned.
On the way I called my friend Kim and told her what craziness I was going to do and asked if she could get me some supplies. I was worried that line etiquette would be harsh, which is one of the reasons I was hesitant to get in line. Plus there were the stories of violence and cutting in the PS3 lines.
Line etiquette was basically that as long as you were in line (anywhere) most of the night you could keep your spot. I spent most of my time at the end of the line. I went into the store about three times before they closed to use their bathroom and one time to buy Wii accessories.
My spot in line was at the building’s corner left of the entrance. The people directly in front of me were all off-duty Best Buy employees. They estimated that they were about 26 back so throughout the night I told people who were considering joining I was at about 30. There was a teen directly behind me in line that was poorly clothed. I spent the first few hours hooping and spinning poi which kept me warm so I leant him my coat.
One of the Best Buy employees, Chad, brought a PSP that we watched Family Guy on. Chad was waiting in line because a customer of his had a bad customer experience and this was how he would make it up to her. Chad had asked his manager if they could set a Wii aside, but the manager said if any were set aside the employee responsible would be fired. Early in the morning the customer arrived so Chad was able to get his own Wii. That’s some hardcore dedication to customer service.
Around 7:30 I called Papa Gino’s and ordered two pizzas. It was weird to get food delivered to the outside of a store.
My friend Kim and her daughter Luba brought some warm supplies and a book for me. They also spent a few hours in the back of the line with me and Robby. Robby was the youngest of the line to stay the entire night. I think he was 10. His mother, sister, and soccer coach all waited with him . . . just so they could get one Wii for him. Kim and I setup their tent. We spent some of the time hooping and playing with poi.
I was happily surprised to discover at least 1/3rd of the line was comprised of women gamers. Hopefully that’s a sign that we’re nearing the time that games will become casual enough that the male to female ratio will almost balance.
I would estimate that I was about the 5th oldest person in the line. One guy who was in line waited to get a Wii solely for his son. I asked him if he’d ever been in a similar line. He said he had waited a few hours in line for Jimmy Buffet tickets, but never overnight.
Around 1:00 AM some Wal*mart shoppers drove through with Wii boxes laughing at us. The Wal*mart had opened at midnight to sell their thirty copies. I think in part they did it to avoid violence and get the shoppers off their property. Even had I known they were going to open at midnight I would not have gone. I heard through a Wal*mart employee that one kid’s credit card wasn’t working. He called his parents pleading for them to help him, but he lost his place.
At one point in the night one of the people in line tried selling a PS3 to another guy in the line. The potential buyer didn’t trust the seller’s statement on the hard-drive size. They opened the box on the hood of a car to verify the size. The conversation seemed a bit heated and I wasn’t comfortable with either side of the argument so I avoided most of it. The sale fell through and the seller tried selling it to other people about $100 over cost. Three police officers arrived about 10 minutes later. They had been called by the buyer who was complaining of solicitation. Nobody got arrested and both of them remained in the line and got Wiis.
The PS3 was bigger than the original PS2. It looked sleaker, with an elliptical shape, but I doubt I’d find room for it in my entertainment center. The Wii is basically the size of an external CD-R drive.
Some of the people in line had also waited in the PS3 line. All of them were E-baying their PS3s and keeping their Wiis. One of the guys, who worked for Best Buy, had a bid at $2,000 and the bidding was still open. There is a far smaller supply of PS3s, and they cost over twice the price of a Wii.
I played Monopoly with Robbie’s family. I won the game, in part because some of them quit. There was another monopoly game running at the same time. The middle of the line (where my stuff was) was the first to sleep. The front stayed awake awhile longer talking but they all went to sleep too. It was the end of the line where the partying was happening.
The only time I left Best Buy was at 5:30 AM so Kate and I could find a bathroom. We ended up at the McDonald’s in Cumberland as it opened at 6:00 AM. When we drove there we passed Toys “R” Us. There was a line of about 30 there, which was at least half the size of our line. The store had told me weeks ago they had pre-ordered all the units. We drove through the Target parking lot to see the line there. Earlier in the night some people from the Target line had tried to recruit people to switch from the Best Buy line to the Target line. We all refused. As we drove passed the line I shouted, “Wii.”
Many people joined our line in the morning. Two of the early morning entrants were a mother and son who a Best Buy employee (not Chad) had promised to call if the line was getting close to the cut-off. He actually called her 6 times.
Around the last hour or two the line went over and some people had to be turned away. Some of those turned away included people from the Target line who had gotten tickets at Target and waited in our line since Target wasn’t opening until after our line got tickets. Only two people had been turned away in the Target line. I believe they were all turned away because they arrived too late.
The Best Buy general manager said nobody would get tickets until the sidewalk was clear of tents, chairs, and other stuff. We had everything clear by 7:30. When we all got in line for tickets the General Manager asked if everybody was satisfied with their position. Chad made a joke that 25 people had cut him. Everybody was satisfied. They gave one ticket per person. I got the 26th ticket. Nobody was allowed to pay for another person’s purchase.
It was an amazing experience. Except for the PS3 thing, the night was great and everybody was cool. I didn’t get anybody’s contact information, but I could definitely see my self being friends with many of the people I met there. The guy at the front of the line waited a total of 27 hours. I shook his hand.