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Best Buy sells 'last Wii' twice

Nintendo Economics 101

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How hard is it to find a Nintendo Wii? Not as hard as some might think.

The official line from Nintendo is that demand for the time-wasting gaming console far exceeds supply, but some recent shenanigans at a Best Buy electronics mega-store in Princeton, New Jersey would seem to indicate otherwise.

Last Saturday morning, a reader of The Consumerist was browsing this east coast Best Buy, when a devious person walked past.

"One of their salespeople came strolling from a back door holding a Nintendo Wii over his head, and started walking the aisles announcing that it was their last unit," said John The Consumerist reader. "I followed, wondering both how quickly would it get snatched up and how quickly could I decide if I wanted to buy it. It took a few minutes for a couple to come rushing up to claim it, exclaiming how happy their kids were going to be."

Then John went back to his browsing, and thirty minutes later, he was interrupted again. "I heard this announcement on the store's PA: 'Attention Best Buy customers! Julie is now walking through the store with our last Nintendo Wii! If you're looking for a Nintendo Wii, please look for Julie!' And there was another salesperson doing the same thing as the first - walking the aisles of the store holding the Wii above her head."

Then he decided it was time to some eavesdropping. "I overheard two manager-types (one in a suit, the other a yellow shirt) discussing it, the suit asking 'Did Julie sell that Wii, yet? How long?' And then 'Wait 40 minutes and send out the next one.'"

This doesn't surprise us. Others have accused Best Buy of behaving like gangsters.

Meanwhile, in a recent conversation with The San Jose Mercury News, Nintendo American president Reggie Fils-Aime insisted that the company has no hope of meeting American Wii demand anytime soon.

"We're working very hard to make sure that consumers are satisfied this holiday, but I can't guarantee that we're going to meet demand. As a matter of fact, I can tell you on the record we won't."

In fact, the whole supply and demand thing confuses him. "Every time we put more into the marketplace, we sell more, which says that we are not even close to understanding where the threshold is between supply and demand."

Perhaps he should ring up a Best Buy in New Jersey. It has a firm grasp on the situation.

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