SIKESTON -- Those hoping to buy high-demand gaming systems such as the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation PSP for Christmas still have a chance, although it's a slim possibility they'll be able to put it under their tree.
"There's not enough for us and not enough for other retailers," said Larry Futer, district manager for Radio Shack. "The manufacturer simply does not make enough."
Several of the stores that report to him get about a dozen phone calls a day, with people searching for the systems, both of which were released more than a year ago.
Heather, a Sikeston resident who asked her last name not be used to keep the gift a surprise, ended up having her sister, who lives on a military base, purchase a Wii for her children and ship it here.
For a couple of weeks back in November, she, as well a her husband, parents and others, searched high and low in the area for one of the systems, but had no luck.
At all the stores they went to, sales representatives said "it's going to be very hard to find," Heather recalled.
When we couldn't find one here, my sister said she knew she could get one," said Heather. "Once we realized how hard it was, we stepped on it and got one fast."
She had also searched online, where games were hard to come by or pricey. On Best Buy's site, Heather found that all the U.S. stores were sold out, but some were available at stores in Canada. "But they wouldn't ship to the U.S.," she said.
Futer said he doesn't anticipate that there will be any Wii systems available in area Radio Shack stores within the next week. He's hopeful, however, that some of the PSP systems will be shipped and available for sale to last-minute buyers.
The two systems, in addition to others, such as the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 are all popular items this year, said Futer, but the Wii is most popular, for two reasons.
"Anytime anything new is in short supply, everybody wants it," said Futer. "And it's an interactive game, so it's a little bit of a novelty at this point."
Unlike other systems, such as the PlayStation and others, the Wii has hand controls. With games such as bowling, players get to make the actual movements instead of pushing a command button.
Demand has been high for the systems since their release last year, but customers have been looking even more over the past three or so weeks, said Futer.
At the Sikeston Wal-Mart, an associate who works in the electronics department, who declined to give her name, agreed.
She said the store tends to receive between three and eight of each of the systems in a week and they are sold out almost immediately. There is no wait list, so customers just have to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
The GameStop retail chain, which has a store on the south end of Sikeston, has come up with a solution to help customers -- but their kids still won't have one of the consoles under their tree on Christmas Day.
On Friday, Nintendo Co. announced that since it won't be able to make enough of the consoles to meet demand, it will issue some vouchers to customers. The rain checks are available only to GameStop stores this Thursday and Friday, and shoppers must pay the console's full price of $250 and pick it up in January.
Representatives at the local GameStop were unable to be interviewed, due to company policies.
According to an Associated Press article, the rain checks are also designed to keep customers from choosing different gaming systems to purchase instead of the Wii.
Futer said the Xbox 360 has been a popular alternative at Radio Shack -- which is also a good seller, there's just more supply.
"But it's not as interactive (as the Wii)," he said. "It's just a typical video game."