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TK's MORNING BUZZ: How Many Smaller Retailers Were Able to Get Their Hands on Any PlayStation 2s?

27 Oct, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

The flash-in-the-pan sales stampede yesterday morning in which all 500,000 PlayStation 2 video game consoles shipped to retail had sold through to consumers in a matter of minutes was nothing short of phenomenal.

And yet once again, as in the video industry, power was concentrated at the top. On launch morning, Video Store Magazine staffers visited Southern California outlets of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and several other big chains. Each of them told us they had received allotments of between 50 and 100 PlayStation 2 consoles. Take the average, 75, and divide that into the 500,000 units that comprised Sony's initial shipment and you get just over 6,500 lucky retailers that were on the receiving end of Sony console shipments.

The big three mass merchants--Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target Stores--alone have 5,500 stores between them. Add to that Best Buy, Circuit City and Toys "R" Us, all of which also participated in the launch, and you're right at the 6,500-store mark. And that doesn't include games-only chains like Electronics Boutique, the various online sellers, and, of course, Blockbuster, which also got a few consoles per store to rent.

So my question is this: Exactly how many PlayStation 2 consoles were reserved for the smaller independents, the non-mega-chain toy stores, video stores and game stores that are also involved in the suddenly resurging videogame trade?

I don't have the answer, but I'd sure like to know whether any of you smaller retailers reading this column were able to get your hands on any PlayStation 2s--and if you did, did you have to wait in line like Joe Consumer to buy them from the big chains?

The home video industry, it appears, is not alone in favoring the strong and the mighty. I just hope independent retailers of all stripes are capitalizing on PlayStation 2-mania however they can--by pushing alternative game consoles, perhaps through ads or discount coupons; by hyping their PlayStation One and DVD software as readily available alternatives to already-scarce PlayStation 2 games; or through clever, unofficial "cross promotions" (bring us your receipt from your PlayStation 2 purchase and we'll give you a free video rental, so the rest of your household has something to do while you play with your new toy).

Sony is billing the PlayStation 2 launch as the biggest consumer electronics launch in history. And there's no reason everyone can't hitch a ride on the console's coattails, even if you're not among the chosen few.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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