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Big hunt for after Christmas store bargains

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POSTED December 27, 2008 12:52 a.m.

The wild goose chase on Friday morning took us to the Best Buy electronics store in Riverbank.

Most of us knew this was the day for the after-Christmas sales.

Thankfully, the 20-minute trip from Manteca was well worth it as my 13-year-old son, Josh, was thrilled to come across the metallic red NintendoDS lite.

He was all smiles. For Josh had managed to snag the hand-held game system ranked high on his Christmas wish list.

Each year, in fact, the youngsters in my family will usually jot down three items on Thanksgiving Day.

Josh also had the Microsoft Xbox video game, Left 4 Dead, along with money on his list, getting two of the three items for Christmas.

He had enough in gift cards and cash for the NintendoDS.

However, the tricky part was trying to find the game system.

NintendoDS was the hot item at most of the electronic stores in Stockton, Manteca and Tracy. Best Buy in both Stockton and Tracy, so I’m told, had been out of stock during the holidays.

Josh, meanwhile, was bracing himself for another day-after-Christmas let down.

The events of a year ago was still fresh in his mind.

He was hoping for an Xbox and had enough Christmas money and gift cards to purchase the electronic items, but, on the day-after, had a tough time finding one.

We started that morning at Best Buy and Game Stop in Stockton, and tried the stores in Modesto. No such luck.

The Stockton Game Stop had three of those Xbox systems in stock except we had Best Buy gift cards. And by the time we returned to Game Stop an hour or so later, Josh was disappointed to find out that those game systems had been sold.

Fortunately, he came across the unit at the Tracy Best Buy some three days later.

This year, we had to play it smart, going online to search out the item. And low and behold, we were able to locate several NintendoDS systems at the Riverbank Best Buy.

As to how many? Those numbers were vague, to say the least.

Finding my way to Riverbank shopping center was another part of the equation. I had been there just once, coming in from the back way.

Josh was antsy. I thought he would be crushed again if those NintendoDS were sold out by the time got there.

Along the way, I managed to take one wrong turn, but was still able to right my way around.

By the time we arrived at the store, I dropped Josh off at the front while I parked the car.

I found him by the video game area of Best Buy, clasping on to the game system much like a fisherman’s big catch photo as seen on the sports page or the window of the bait shop.

It wasn’t until the transaction was completed that I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. That probably went double for him.

The cashier experienced trouble scanning several of the VISA gift cards. It wasn’t until her supervisor arrived that the sale was finalized.

Right now, I’m not sure if I can endure another day-after-Christmas event.

All I know is retailers nationwide are hoping this day will be the equivalent to that of “Black Friday,” with the day-after-Thanksgiving historically known as the busiest shopping day of the year.

But with this slumping economy, retailers are turning to the day-after-Christmas to make up for this year’s slow sales.

Early numbers are pointing to weaker-than-hoped-for holiday sales, in turn, prompting retailers to make huge price cuts in order to move goods out of the stores while cutting their losses, according to reports.

So here’s praying for a boost in sales as 2008 winds down.

If not, we could be facing more retail bankruptcies in the coming year.

In my household, we’ve already done our part to help out by going the extra mile or so.

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