One year, I took extreme measures to find the perfect Christmas gift.
We used to own a wholesale toy and school supply business. On Christmas Eve, my husband Danny would come home with a trash bag full of toys. We would spend hours wrapping the little gifts. Our children grew up and we sold the business. Soon I received my children’s Christmas lists which took me on quests encompassing much of the Denver Metro area.
One year, my son Kelly asked for a Playstation 2. It was the only item on his list. I thought, “Wow! This will be so easy this year. I’ll pick it up and buy a couple of small presents. DONE!”
Not so fast. I walked into Target and stood in front of an empty shelf. I asked the salesman when the next shipment was due to arrive. “We never know when they’re coming in.” I drove to Best Buy and several other stores. The salespeople gave me the same response.
I started to panic. Where would I find the holy grail of Christmas gifts this year if they manufactured so few of them? I compiled a list of stores and started calling every day. I started recognizing the operator’s voices.
A few days later, I went through the phone book in search of smaller stores that may carry it. I called Game Stop at our local mall. It was a long shot, but I was desperate. Christmas was seven days away.
“We’ve been getting 4 or 5 of them a day.”
“Really? Can you hold one for me?”
He laughed. “No. They’re gone in seconds.”
“When do they usually come it?”
“UPS delivers between 10:00 and 2:00.”
“Has your shipment already come in today?” I looked at the clock. It was almost noon.
“Yep. They’re all gone.”
The next day, I drove out to the mall at 10:00 and walked into Game Stop. There were a few other shoppers milling around. “Has UPS delivered yet?”
I hung around the small store for 30 minutes until I got antsy. I left and window shopped while watching for the man in brown.
After an hour, I made my way to the main mall and looked over the balcony. There he was! With huge strides, the young man hustled his packages in and out of the stores below. I ran down the stairs and rushed into the store after him. A salesgirl signed the his receipt. I followed him back out.
When he ducked into the next store, I pretended to be interested in sunglasses at a kiosk. By the time he stepped into a sixth store, I realized it would be a while before he made his way upstairs. Drawn in by a sweater in a store window, I shopped for a while. I peeked my head out. He had put a pretty good distance between us. I bolted after him. I tried to catch up while dodging shoppers. He headed for the elevator. I sprinted, but he was too fast.
Several yards ahead of me, the elevator doors closed. I took the stairs by twos. Shoppers threw me sideways glances. A throng of teenagers stood in the way. “Excuse me!” I yelled and slipped past them. I made it to the top of the stairs and scanned the stores. He popped out of one on the corner. Whew!
I stepped inside Game Stop and caught my breath. A line had already formed. The man ahead of me asked, “Are you waiting for a PS2?”
“So are we.”
Dang! A few minutes later the UPS man delivered the precious cargo. I craned my neck to check out the boxes. The salesman signed for them and announced, “I have five to sell today, folks.”
The people behind me moaned. I counted six customers ahead of me. I held my breath. The first asked for a video game. One down. The second and third bought PS2′s. I was so close, I could touch them! The third wanted a game. My heart soared.
“Looks like we got lucky,” the man ahead of me said and smiled.
“We did.” I beamed as I pulled out my credit card and paid.
Kelly still remembers the surprise of receiving that PS2 on Christmas morning.
This year, there are only two items on my son’s list. One of them is the Playstation 4. He works at Best Buy and sells these consoles to other happy customers. He doesn’t get any preferential treatment. Recently, he stood in line for one, but they sold that last one to a woman in front of him.
Then I read the news that there may be shortages, I thought, “Here we go again.” I planned to hit the mall and stalk the UPS guy again. I made some calls to other Game Stops in my area before I left.
The first one said, “You’re the 19th caller today. We’re keeping track this year. You can stop in at 2:00 to see if we got any in.”
The second I called was located in a mall slated for remodel. I didn’t know any stores were still open. ”Do you have any PS4′s?” I held my breath.
“We have a ton of them.”
I jumped in the car and squealed my tires imagining people texting their friends to share this cache of good luck. I checked my speed several times while driving down the highway. A scant thirty cars were parked in the mall’s parking lot. A good sign. I raced past several shuttered shops to the store. It was packed with customers. “Do you have any PS4s?”
“Yep. You came to the right place.”
I can’t wait to see the smile on my son’s face this Christmas morning.
Have you ever had to go to great lengths to find the perfect gift?
PS4 and UPS image courtesy of Wikimedia