So you want to buy a Wii this holiday shopping season? Good luck!

After hearing rumors of Wii shortages in the runup to Christmas, I thought I'd pull a fast one on the rest of the holiday herd by buying a Wii nine weeks ahead of time.

I thought wrong. Wiis are as scarce as hen's teeth, judging by the responses I got at the local strip mall.

The Target clerk: "Yeah, we had one this morning. Somebody returned it for some reason. The guy behind him in line bought it right there."

When might another shipment be coming in?

"Around Thanksgiving."

At the GameStop a few storefronts down, the Wii was also out of stock, but the manager said the wait would be just a few weeks.

As for the other consoles, I could see four PS3 boxes in Target's PS3 display case, right below the demo for Sony Home -- a virtual world service based on the PS3 platform that no buyer would be able to use, owing to the fact that Sony has delayed the release of Home until next Spring.

When I asked the GameStop manager about the PS3, he admitted "you can get those anytime," but he added that Xbox 360 supplies were tighter. "It's been selling like crazy," he explained. The reason? All of the excitement over Halo 3, of course.

As I was walking out the store, he picked up the phone. "Sorry, we're out of stock," he told the person on the other end. "Probably won't have any for a couple of weeks."

It looks like it's going to be a long, cold Wiinter in these parts ...

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