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Readers respond: How to catch a Wii

Some of you will go to great lengths to catch a Wii.

In response to my last column, I received hundreds of e-mails from readers eager to share Wii-hunting stories. Some of you stood outside big-box stores in the pre-dawn hours. Some of you called retailers every day for months, checking on shipments. Some of you got lucky. And some of you gave up.

“I tried to buy a Wii for my three nephews, Couldn’t, so I bought them a PS3,” wrote Bob Lobsiger, of Omaha, Neb  “Cost me double. Wii’s loss, Sony’s gain. Stupid on the part of Nintendo. There should have been ample Wiis for the holidays.”

Russ Fleenor, of Roanoke, Va., doesn’t buy that there was a shortage at all. “I finally realized that the entire holiday Wii shortage was a manufactured marketing ploy on Nintendo's part,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I bought my sons an Xbox 360 and a PS3. I will not buy a Wii.”

Some of you had an inside track, like Jan Burke. “I scored a Wii on Christmas Eve, but only because my daughter works for Best Buy and called me to let me know they had gotten some in.”

One reader found that it paid to go right to the source. “I was recovering from surgery in February and wanted one to aid in slowly increasing my level of activity and my recovery and could not find one anywhere,” wrote Gayle Topolinicki of Pine Island, Minn.

“I finally emailed Nintendo, explaining and asking for suggestions on where to get a Wii. Nintendo  called me several days later, said they wanted to help and sold me a Wii over the telephone. It arrived three days later! God bless Nintendo!”

Ed Deleon, of Ontario, Canada, got no help from Nintendo — but he did snag a Wii. Deleon and several dozen hardy folks lined up outside a store at 4:00 a.m. on Dec. 14. And by the time the store opened, he’d met everyone in line — and procured a coveted console.

Deleon managed to keep a sense of humor about his adventure. “Breakfast at McDonald’s: $8.00. One Nintendo Wii: $269.99. Waiting in line to get the Wii for five hours in sub-zero temperatures … priceless,” he wrote in an e-mail. “There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else, Santa gets the credit!”

Alisha Perry, of Las Vegas, said that she started looking in October for a Wii — and had to call about 80 stores to find one.

“I found it at Target and the operator who answered the phone when I called said, ‘We had four left this morning, get here now.’ So I dropped everything and went as quickly as possible; when I arrived they had two left!” she wrote. “I realize that they are very hard to find but I believe if you are persistent and patient enough, you will get one!”

It doesn’t hurt if you’re halfway around the world, either. Tiffiny Kaszuba, of Omaha, wrote that she had given up finding a Wii — but her husband, a Navy reservist stationed in Iraq, managed to find one.

“Today my husband calls me from Falluja  … they had eight Wiis in their PX for $249 and no tax,” she said. “He has to mail it home still. So I hope the post office doesn't lose it.”

Many of you attributed your Wii wins to good luck — and good timing. Anthony Lower, a reader from Philadelphia, had given up his 6-month search, which included haunting local stores and monitoring the Wii-inventory sites. Right after Thanksgiving, his luck changed.

“While in the store, I browsed my way to the back of the store and heard an overhead announcement ‘Would the customer who is buying the Nintendo Wii, please come to customer service.’  I was off like a shot, jumping over grandmas examining towels and dodging guys trying out weight machines,” he wrote in an e-mail.

When he found out the store had five machines left, Lower says he “pushed away the evil capitalistic instinct to buy all five and put them on e-Bay (and thereby making the situation I endured worse for others), and just bought the one.”

Speaking of evil capitalistic urges, Amy Cummins had strong words for profiteering Wii-sellers: “I just hope there's some sort of Christmas karma that comes back to haunt all of those people who were selling Wiis at twice their retail price on eBay,” she wrote in an e-mail.

But a few readers chose to ignore any Grinchy urges, like Todd Cone. He was in his local Target, shopping for nothing in particular, when he saw one Wii on the shelf.

“I examined the box through the glass, but, having never even seen a Wii before, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. I asked the clerk ‘Is that a Wii?’ Immediately, everyone near me almost got whiplash they turned so fast,” he wrote in an e-mail.

But Cone didn’t keep the Wii for himself. “I called a very good friend who had been frantically looking for a Wii for her 8-year-old son. Despite efforts to dissuade him, a Wii was the only present he wanted from Santa,” he wrote. “I invited her to lunch the next day and presented her with the Wii. She broke down and cried.”