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Want an SNES Classic this Friday? Our best buying advice

When, where and how to get your nostalgia fix.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's official: Nintendo's miniature SNES Classic Edition is practically perfect. For just $80, this official remake of the 1991 Super Nintendo Entertainment System lets you play 21 of the very best SNES games -- heck, some of the best games ever made -- on a modern HDTV. It goes on sale this Friday, Sept. 29.

Actually finding one? That's a different story. Last year's NES Classic proved nearly impossible to buy, and last month's preorders for the new SNES Classic were an utter shitshow.

I'm here to help. I've been emailing every major retailer that'll carry the SNES Classic in the US, and I've got a few tricks for finding hard-to-find gadgets too. Here's everything I know about when -- and where -- to be ready.

Update, Sept. 29, 8:55 a.m. PT: If you're in one of 18 major US cities, you may be able to pick up a SNES Classic at an Amazon Treasure Truck, a new roving depot the retail giant just launched.

Update, Sept. 29, 11:05 a.m. PT: Reading these words? It's probably too late for you to find the SNES Classic at a retail store today, and both GameStop and ThinkGeek appear to be sold out online as well. Definitely hit up a Target or Best Buy if it's convenient (and not heavily trafficed) but maybe don't drive long distance. Our other non-retail instructions may still work. 

1. Know your stores

I've personally confirmed that every one of these retailers will offer the SNES Classic Edition on Friday to walk-in customers at brick-and-mortar stores. None of them plan to open their doors early -- except the Nintendo World Store.  

  • Walmart: Every single Walmart will have units "while supplies last" -- and many Walmarts are open 24 hours a day. Those stores will begin sales at 12:01 a.m. local time (a minute after midnight), ahead of practically every other store. Other Walmart locations open as early as 5 or 6 a.m.
  • Best Buy: Every single Best Buy will have "limited quantities," and stores will start handing out tickets at 7 a.m. local time, first-come first-served, to anyone who's already in line. Best Buy stores generally open at 10 a.m., so you may have an extra three-hour wait, but you (probably) won't walk away disappointed if you've already secured a ticket. Best Buy says it won't print more tickets than units it can sell.
  • GameStop: Every single GameStop will have "a limited and varied number of units," according to a rep, but you won't go in totally blind. Stores will be publicly posting the number of SNES Classics they have on their doors, so you'll have a decent idea of your chances before you get in line. GameStop stores generally open at 10 a.m., but some open at 9 or even 8. 
  • Toys R Us: Every single big-box Toys R Us will have "limited inventory" on Friday, as well as the company's New York City Times Square holiday shop, but no outlets or express stores. (In other words, don't try a Toys R Us inside a mall.) Like Best Buy, the company will be offering tickets to those standing in line. Stores generally open at 9 or 10 a.m.
  • Target: Every single Target will have units. Some stores open as early as 6:30 a.m., and a rep says he wouldn't be surprised if customers show up even earlier. That might make it tempting to hit up Target before some other retailers, but 6:30 may be too late to get a good spot in line elsewhere.
  • ThinkGeek: Did you know GameStop subsidiary ThinkGeek has some retail stores? They'll be fulfilling preorders first, but the retailer say any leftover units are fair game for customers who walk in on Friday morning. The store generally opens at 11 a.m. or noon, so it might be a good last-ditch option if your primary store runs out.
  • Nintendo World Store NYC: Nintendo is holding an exclusive 150-person launch party at its flagship Nintendo World Store in New York City Thursday evening at 9 p.m. ET, and people are apparently already in line. Wristbands will be distributed at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. If you're too late (it may already be too late), the store will open again to sell more systems at 9 a.m. ET the next morning.


No retailer would tell us how many units will be available, though we've seen rumors of as few as 20 or as many as 500 consoles per store, depending on the location and retailer.  

2. Swing by on Thursday

Don't wait until Friday morning, only to find people have pitched tents and sleeping bags the night before. The smart move is to swing by Thursday night and scope out the situation. Maybe show up before the store closes and ask employees how many units they'll have? Maybe show up later to see how many people are camping out, so you can pick a different store if needed.

If you're pinning your hopes on Walmart, you may even want to show up Thursday morning to ask precisely when and where you should camp out for Walmart's midnight launch.

SNES Classic Edition

The box you're looking for.

Sarah Tew/CNET

3. Don't forget online sales

Standing in line won't be the only way to get an SNES Classic this week. Half of the retailers we contacted said they'll sell a limited number of consoles at their online shops on Friday, too.

Here are the links you'll want to refresh, often, starting Thursday evening at the very latest:

Best Buy and Toys R Us are only planning to sell the SNES Classic at retail on Friday, but it might not hurt to check their product pages as well. Definitely try Amazon, too.

Protip: If you only check once, make it 9 p.m. PT / midnight ET. Walmart is going live at 12:01 a.m. local time, and we wouldn't be surprised if others follow suit -- and websites don't really differentiate between US time zones. BUT, we just noticed ThinkGeek's site says "Pacific," so it's possible they'll go live at 12:01am PT / 3:01am ET. Sorry, East Coasters.

Protip 2: Be sure to sign up for an account and login to any or all of these retailer webpages ahead of time, log into PayPal (if applicable), and have your credit card digits handy. Otherwise, when the item appears, you may waste precious seconds filling in information.

4. Use a product tracker

Don't want to keep hitting F5 or swiping down on a web browser? Try product trackers like NowInStock.net -- which I used to score my Nintendo Switch ($296 at Amazon) and NES Classic a number of months back. They alert you when a retailer updates its online store.

(Here's NowInStock.net's page for the SNES Classic Edition.)

Mind you, even this tracker isn't good enough unless you're checking your phone (or smartwatch) regularly, and you may need to follow some pretty involved instructions (setting up Google Groups and SMS forwarding) if you really want a heads-up before stock is sold out.

Plus, it's a bit of an arms race. The more people take advantage of these services, the less useful they'll be to everyone.

SNES Classic Edition

So many excellent games.

Sarah Tew/CNET

5. Follow Wario64

Wario64, on Twitter, finds and publishes video game sales with lightning speed. I've seen NowInStock.net beat him (or her), but (s)he's much easier to follow.

6. Check an inventory tracker

These aren't necessarily reliable -- but sites like BrickSeek claim to tell you how many units of a product are available at some brick-and-mortar chains (including Target and Walmart) near you.

And it sure looks like Walmart is already showing quantities at most of its stores... take these numbers with a grain of salt, but it might help you figure out where to go. (Here's the BrickSeek page for the SNES Classic at Target, which is just barely starting to show stock as of Thursday afternoon.)

7. Try B&H Photo

Technically, B&H Photo/Video is closed on Friday and Saturday for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, but the New York City-based online retailer tells us it will sell the SNES Classic both online and at its New York retail store.

You'll probably want to start refreshing its website on Thursday night, but if you live in New York City you could also show up in person early Sunday morning.

It could be your very last chance to get an SNES Classic for the regular price.

8. eBay

We hope it doesn't come to this. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said it shouldn't come to this. But if it does, you can always wait and see where the price lands on auction sites like eBay and local sales pages like Craigslist.

Our advice: Don't buy on eBay right away. Wait to see if the going price comes down. Because if Nintendo actually did produce enough units and scalpers flood the grey market, those units won't sell -- and sooner or later, the scalpers will realize they need to bring prices down.

Our SNES Classic Edition review: Nostalgia this perfect is a rare thing.

How E3 2017 rebooted our childhood: In 28 images.