This year we seem to have given ourselves an impossible task. ABM and I had been talking about buying the kids a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. Then, two weeks' ago we thought that it might more for them (and less expensive for us) to buy them each a used Nintendo DS. With certain games they could still have group play, yet they would each own their own electronic device without having to share. Since we have broadband internet access and a wireless router, they would also be able to get on the internet and play their friends. I thought it was a perfect plan.
The original Nintendo DS was released here in 2004 so I figured I wouldn't have any problem finding four used units for about $75 each. I was SO wrong. The pawn shops, where ABM usually has good luck, haven't had any units at all. Gamestop sells refurbished units but they are more than I wanted to pay -- $100 for a DS Lite. That is too close to the price for a brand-new unit ($130). I don't want to pay that much because I still want to be able to buy them games as well. So, I turned to eBay.
Let me tell you this: eBay is not the place to shop at Christmas time when you are getting desperate. My big rule for shopping on eBay is to determine what an item is really worth to you and stick with that price. I've seen too many people pay $150 for an item that is available in the stores for $100, and I can only attribute that to auction fever. I'm usually pretty good at avoiding that malady, but with only a week left to buy something and have it shipped in time for Christmas I was starting to fall victim to it myself. I've been outbid so many times that I just wanted to pay any price to win an auction.
Luckily, as I was typing this post, I won an auction! I am getting an original DS unit for $96, which includes the shipping. It is $21 more than I wanted to pay, but that is my second rule of shopping on eBay: realize when your max price is unrealistic. I may think that $75 is a reasonable price for a DS, but the market doesn't agree with me. On eBay and in the pawn shops, DS units are flying out the door at $90-$100. It is still a very popular item, apparently. Wish me luck on my DS search!