Adventures in Pre-Ordering

TRUStarLine.JPGMan, have I had an exhausting past 24 hours. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth for the past day or so, the reason being that I’ve been sitting in front of the local Toys “R” Us store keeping my space for a coveted PS3 pre-order. Here’s how the events went down.

On Friday I confirmed with the store manager that they would have at least two PS3 pre-orders available this Sunday. My original plan was to drive over to the store around 8:45 pm, check in with management, and set up for a night in the cold guarding my #1 position. Plans quickly changed though when I read this article on Joystiq around 4:00 pm where people leaving comments were reporting accounts of shoppers already lining up for the pre-orders. Luckily I had most of my equipment ready to go so I drove to Toys “R” Us in hopes of getting one of the two spots.

Continue reading for more tales and videos.

When I arrived there was already one person there who had been waiting since 12:00 pm, so I was lucky enough to get the #2 position. Also, the manager was informed that their shipment allocation had moved from two to four, however those spots were taken by two strangers shortly after I got there. The four of us huddled down next to the door and waited. I shot the following video shortly after setting up shop.

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From around 5:00pm to midnight we passed the time by talking about video game stuff, how we came to find out about the pre-orders, etc. It turns out that the other two guys that came after me had been by in the morning, but didn’t stick around because they figured that no one would start lining up until the evening. All of them had already purchased pre-orders at GameStop/EBX and had sold them on eBay, making between $1500 and $2000 each. This was their second attempt at a pre-order, which they planned on selling again and using the money to purchase two more PS3s on launch day: one from Wal-Mart and then one from Best Buy, both of which they would again sell.

Besides the four PS3 reserves, Toys “R” Us also had 10 Wii reservations available. These quickly filled up over the course of the evening and we began having to turn people away starting around midnight. Some didn’t take our word regarding the spots already being taken and decided to wait it out regardless. Here is a picture of the full line. As you can see, some people even set up a tent to protect themselves from the wind. I shot the following footage once all the spots were filled.

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Around 2:30 am, people began losing it. As you can see in the next video, I was bundled up in my chair dozing when I heard a weird sound, like a coarse scraping. Turns out that #5 in line had found a great way to pass the time, by rubbing stones against the curbs. He proceeded to do this for the next hour, succeeding in being the most annoying individual there.

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At 6:00 am the district manager showed up and gave the following spiel. Basically confirming to the extra people in line that didn’t heed our warning that they only had 4 PS3 (3 60GB and 1 20GB) and 10 Wii pre-orders. Those waiting in line could only reserve a Wii or a PS3, not both. They would also have the new Tickle Me Elmo Extreme on sale as well, which all the eBayers were planning on purchasing two of and hawking for double the retail price.

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After his speech, he gave us tickets to mark our place in line and let us stand inside the foyer out of the cold. When 9:00 am rolled around, there were a lot of people in there, mainly parents that had seen the Big Book ad in the paper and rushed down to get a Wii, PS3, or TMX for their kid. Again, these people didn’t believe those of us in line that the pre-orders had already been spoken for, so they just stayed put.

The four of us with PS3 pre-orders were allowed into the store first. We each picked up some Tickle Me Elmos (hey, my wife wanted one and they’re pretty cool), purchased our pre-orders, and walked out as one group to make sure no one messed with us as we had to push through an angry mob of parents to get back to our cars. When I got home I took the following video as sort of a Mission Complete.

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Exhausted, I had to take a nap before I could even begin to recount my tale. I did learn a few things though in addition to what I picked up in this article, specifically regarding waiting outside of a store in the cold climates of Michigan.

  1. Make sure you wear adequate layers on your feet and legs as well as shoes that have some sort of insulation. Throughout the night the coldest part of my body was my feet and calves, mainly because I was wearing tennis shoes, two layers of socks, and pajama bottoms under jeans, yet I was till freezing.
  2. Purchase a ski mask. This isn’t to intimidate others in line in an attempt to get their spot, but because spending 17 hours in even the slightest breeze will give you wind burn. The only part of me that wasn’t covered by some article of clothing (my eyes), is hurting as I write this.
  3. If you’re planning on sitting around for any length of time, spend the money on a very nice captain’s chair. You can see my green one in the picture at the top of this article. I purchased that for $12 at Target the night before because it has a foot rest built in. Little did I know that after using the footrest for the very first time the straps would break and I would have this useless extra piece lying on the ground for the rest of the evening.
  4. The lowest it got overnight was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can only imagine how cold it will get two weeks from Thursday. If you can, try to invest some money in a portable propane heater. Sure, bundling up in a sleeping bag might work too, but you can at least share the heater’s warmth with others, which will in turn build a nice relationship allowing you to make a food or bathroom run with little trouble.

Oh, and my dog Goomba doesn’t like the Tickle Me Elmo.

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About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including