The Toys R Us Big Book was released today, with lots of toys for kids to drool over and beg their parents for. It was also today that every Toys R Us was releasing its only shipment of TMX Elmo dolls to the public, along with presales for the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
After a little thought, I decided to try to get a TMX Elmo. Does Cordy like Elmo? Not really. Do I like Elmo? No way. But seeing the crazy prices on eBay for this little annoying doll made me think that if I could find one, just one, I could sell it on eBay and use the profit for Christmas this year. Yeah, call me greedy and evil and a horrible person. But Christmas gifts always stretch our budget to the breaking point (because we have so many people we have to buy for, and yes, I do try to make homemade gifts as much as possible), and reselling one Elmo doll would easily cover several gifts.
Aaron and I arrived at the Toys R Us at the opening this morning, and I was a little surprised to see the line around the store. I mean, yeah, I figured all the gamers would be out for the Playstation 3 and Wii presales, but certainly that line can’t also be people wanting TMX Elmo, right?
We waited in line, listening to others talk about what they were there to buy. Soon it was clear Elmo was also a highly wanted item. Two older women in front of us were both looking for Elmo for their grandkids. A thought crossed my mind that if I did get a ticket to buy Elmo, which meant I was eligible to buy two of them, I’d let someone else in the crowd have my second one if they couldn’t get a ticket.
However, the line starting moving very quickly, and soon it was apparent that there were no more tickets left for anything. There were supposed to be 81 Elmos at that store, and while the line was long, I didn’t see how they were gone so fast. We decided to go inside and look around anyway.
While in the store, I got to hear people complaining to the manager, and talking to others on cell phones. Apparently some people stood in line for a long time, then at the last minute brought every other member of their family into the line with them so they could each get a ticket for the Elmo. One lady who walked past me was saying that the people in front of her demanded 4 tickets for Elmo (since it was one ticket per person), a ticket for each parent, and a ticket for each of their two young children just because they were there, and they planned to purchase all 8 they were eligible for. Soon it was obvious that most of the people who got Elmo dolls were not interested in keeping them – most would be showing up on eBay sometime in the next week.
A store employee said the line actually started yesterday at 5pm, and got longer through the night. Again, I could understand waiting in line for a PS3, because gamer teens can be obsessive when a new system comes out, but an Elmo doll that laughs and vibrates? I was willing to try to get one today, but I didn’t want it so bad that I was going to wait overnight in the freezing cold. The manager was being yelled at left and right by people who said the distribution wasn’t fair, and it was obvious that many of these people were getting several Elmo dolls to resell.
I was reminded of the hysterical craze over Cabbage Patch Kids the first year they came out. With no eBay back then, most of the people wanting them actually wanted them for their kids. I got one for Christmas that year, thanks to my grandmother going to Children’s Palace early the day after Thanksgiving, standing in a tightly packed swarm of moms, dads, and grandmothers, and being lucky enough to catch and hang onto one of the boxes they were throwing down from the upper stock shelves. My grandmother was offered hundreds of dollars to give up her prize as she left the store, but she knew I wanted one, and she wasn’t giving it up.
Those people were fighting to bring happiness to their kid, instead of fighting over who was going to make a fortune reselling them. (Although I’m sure there were resellers even back in the early 80′s, just not the numbers you see today.) So thinking back, I did feel a little guilty wanting to buy one just to sell it on eBay. But at the same time I wasn’t being greedy, like some people there – I wanted one to resell, not several. Am I just as greedy as them for wanting one that I didn’t plan to keep? The $60 in profit would go a long way for Christmas gifts, which was my original intention in doing this.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, and I’m fine with that. There were people who were far more determined to get one (or several) than me, and that’s OK. We left the store empty-handed, although we did get the chance to look at a few items we might like to get Cordy for Christmas. And unlike my grandmother, I didn’t have to nearly get in a fist fight for a chance at the hot toy for Christmas.