5 hours, 20 phone calls, and 10 stores later: How I finally found and bought a Nintendo Switch console without pre-ordering it

Nintendo Switch consoleBusiness InsiderDo you want to be this happy too? Here’s how I finally got a Nintendo Switch console, even though they’re sold out pretty much everywhere.

Nintendo Switch, the new hot gaming console, was released on March 3. And it’s out of stock at most major retailers.

If you were smart, you pre-ordered it and picked it up at a local store without a problem.

If you were like me, you did not think ahead. And now you have the hard task of hunting for one in a sea of sold-out stores.

I woke up Saturday morning, determined to get my hands on the Switch. It’s been years since the last Zelda game came out, and I’m dying to play the new one.

At 10:45, I threw on a sweatshirt and hopped in my car. I travelled to Best Buys, Targets, GameStops and Toys R Us. After 5 hours, a half tank of gas, 20 phone calls, and 10 stores visits, I now have the Switch! 

In the spirit of its IPO this week, I documented my hours-long adventure on Snapchat.

Here’s what it took to find a Nintendo Switch without pre-ordering the console.

My morning began in Jersey City, at a Target. Online, it said the store had some Nintendo Switch consoles in stock. Alas, this store did not. So my hunt continued.

There was a Best Buy right around the corner from the Target. So I drove over and popped in. No Switches available there either.

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The next stop was to a GameStop in a nearby mall. No luck there either.

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I began doing a lot of googling for game stores nearby. There was a Toys R Us within 30 minutes. The store didn't pick up the phone, but I was desperate. So I crossed my fingers and hit the road.

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Although that Toys R Us did not have any Switches in stock, I got a hot tip from the store clerk. She told me that the Elizabeth, NJ store had 20 in stock, and that Wayne, NJ had about 200. Huzzah! I hopped in my car, and drove to the much-closer Elizabeth NJ, about 25 minutes away.

This store was extremely frustrating. A man at customer service told me they did indeed have about 20 consoles, but that Nintendo wasn't allowing them to sell any more until Sunday. I begged and begged, and was still shut down.

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Desperate, I placed more calls to local stores. I called a GameStop in Elizabeth, NJ. When the man picked up the phone I asked if he by chance had any Switches in stock. 'What do you think?' he replied. Sigh. I had just about lost all hope...

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...when I finally called the Toys R Us in Wayne, NJ and a customer service rep picked up. She told me the store had a bunch in stock. Yay! It was a 45 minute drive, but I didn't care. I could practically smell the cartidges.

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I finally arrived in the Wayne NJ store and an excellent gentleman handed me my console. He said they were all sold out of controllers and the game Zelda, but that I didn't really need either, because it's a one person game, and Switch lets you download Zelda without the cartridge. Yes!

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5 hours later, 20 phone calls, and 10 store visits later, I finally got my Switch. God Bless the Toys R Us in Wayne, NJ.

If you too are hunting for a Nintendo Switch console without having pre-ordered it, here are some tips I learned throughout my adventure:

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Try going to a retailer like Toys R Us or Best Buy on Sunday morning. Those stores are expected to begin selling Switches or get new devices in by then. The man at Best Buy recommended I get to the store at 7 AM on Sunday to wait in line, even though the store doesn't open until 11 AM.

A man at GameStop told me that if people who pre-ordered the devices don't pick them up by Sunday, then they're required to start selling those reserved consoles to other customers. So you can try on Sunday at a local GameStop too and see if you can get lucky.

If you go to a major retailer and they're sold out, ask the store clerk to see if other nearby locations have any Switch consoles available. That's how I learned about the store in Wayne, NJ.

And if you're in the NYC area with access to a car, book it over to Wayne, NJ ASAP! They had a whole pile of them when I got there, with more in the back room. Or head to the Elizabeth, NJ Toys R Us early Sunday morning (they open at 10 AM).

Happy hunting!

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