Santa wasn’t sitting for hours in the darkness of Black Friday waiting for a hard-to-secure Wii game system, but several of his helpers sure were.

Santa wasn’t sitting for hours in the darkness of Black Friday waiting for a hard-to-secure Wii game system, but several of his helpers sure were.

After waiting up to 10 hours, less than a dozen blanket-wrapped, hot chocolate-gulping shoppers met with success at Game Crazy, 1510 E. Riverside Blvd. Shortly after a FedEx ground driver unloaded his cargo at 7:35 a.m., 10 systems arrived and the first 10 received a coveted numbered green slip allowing them to buy the Nintendo system for the normal retail price of $249.99.

“Now we can go take our boys, Sebastian and Seth to see Santa so they can give him their list,” said Rebecca Garlock, 36 of Loves Park. “Sebastian is 6 and he’s just crazy about this game. He’s wanted it since it came out last year and that’s what he wants to tell Santa so I guess we’re going to see Santa tonight or tomorrow.”

Store manager Tyson Mohr said the store gets at least 10 Wii systems each week.

They are usually gone within an hour or two.

“We told our regular customers to buy them in September when they were pretty much available for a day or two,” he said of the game that has sold 16 million consoles in just 12 months. “Those that took our advice are happy they did.

Smaller retailers such as Game Crazy, Mohr said, are being encouraged by Nintendo to sell just one unit to a buyer and keep a record so you don’t sell them another one within two weeks. The move is an effort to prevent bulk purchases where most of the units will end up for sale on eBay.

“One of my clerks says they are going for double the retail price on eBay right now,” Mohr said. “He wants to buy one but I know he already has one and I know what he’d do with it.”

First in line was Steve Webster, 30, of Dixon, who said his purchase was a gift for a friend. He got in line with his lawn chair at 9:15 Thursday night just as Mohr closed the store.

Second was Natane Scott, 27, of Roscoe, who waited most of the 20-degree night totally covered in a thick blanket over her heavy parka.

“This is the first time I’ve done this and I think I’m nuts,” said the mother of three, ages 8, 5 and 4. “They’ve wanted it since it came out last year and they deserve it. Santa is a very kind person and Santa just has to do this for them.”

With most customers knowing that just 10 units likely were available (Mohr says he gets about 100 calls a day inquiring about the delivery details), shoppers near the middle of a line that reached close to two dozen jokingly tried the sympathy card on those in front of them.

“Here, I’m buying this for my daughter and I’ll call her on the phone and let you hear how much she wants it,” said Gordy Rose, 43, of Byron to the person in front of him, Melissa Grant, 25, of Joliet.

Grant, her faced warmed by a small propane-type burner as she sat on the sidewalk in a leather jacket and hooded sweat shirt, wasn’t buying the suggestion or those of a sick relative with cancer and a tumor.

“I’m up here visiting my relatives,” she said as she held her spot. “I’ve checked all of the stores in the Joliet area and nobody has them.”

As it turned out, Grant was No. 9. Rose was correct on being “on the bubble.” He got the No. 10 card.

It was a good 20 minutes before the store opened, and shortly after the sun had come up, 10 lucky ones had the right to buy their Wii.

“Each year I say I’ll never do this again and each year we find something we want,” Garlock said. “I guess it all started with Cabbage Patch Kids when I was very young. Me and my two sisters each got one that looked like us.”

How to get one

The Wii is produced at a single plant in China that has ramped up production several times during the first year of production to meet worldwide demand.

Nintendo has increased its market share to nearly 50 percent, mostly at the expense of Sony and Microsoft. Obtaining a unit isn’t impossible, but it’s likely there won’t be enough to meet demand, Game Crazy store manager Tyson Mohr said.

His suggestions on getting your hands on one:

Shop around: Call several of the stores and find out what day of the week they get their regular shipments. Most stores will tell you, he said.

Get on an order list: Some retailers will put your name on an order list. “We will put people’s name on a list and call them when they come in. They get 30 minutes or so to come and get them,” he said. “That’s so we can reorder because we can’t replenish until all of the games are out of the store.”

Go off the beaten path: “They tend to be more available in places like Belvidere or other smaller towns so you may have to drive a little,” Mohr said. “Call the smaller stores in your area or the bigger ones in another city.”

Game Crazy is at 1510 East Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the holiday season; 815-636-8834.