Students camp out to cash in on PlayStation 3 sales

Heather L. Mueller

After spending nearly 30 hours camped outside in a line that wound halfway around the Richfield Best Buy, Jimi Michiel and Matt Hoffner left with two Sony PlayStation 3 systems, plenty of stories and some regrets.

Michiel, a music graduate student, and Hoffner, a music junior, arrived on Wednesday night around 9 to stake out their spot.

“When we got here last night, we actually smelled weed. There were a lot of drunk people last night,” Michiel said.

Chairs, tents, generators, heaters, mini grills and many excited customers snaked around the building of the store, which had systems for sale at midnight Thursday. Twenty-six more were saved and sold out right away when the store reopened at 8 a.m.

Security guards, police officers and Best Buy employees stood by to ensure the line ran smoothly.

Michiel and Hoffner walked through the sliding doors of the store shortly after midnight, official blue tickets in hand, and spent $499 on the new PS3.

For interested gamers who couldn’t snag a system on opening day, holiday buying has upped the ante for sellers and buyers at online auction sites for the PS3 system. It was the lure of that pay that caused Hoffner to try to sell his system online Friday.

Hoffner posted his system on Craigslist after deciding eBay was flooded with PS3 sales.

As of Sunday, about 30,000 PS3s were posted for auction.

Michiel and Hoffner are both video game fans, but weren’t willing to keep the PS3s at $499.

Michiel figured the $3,000 price tag, which was the going rate for initial online sales, was spent by soccer moms buying Christmas gifts or someone who wasn’t willing to wait in line.

“It’s like they’re spending their money on a video game system, which I will in turn use for rent and food,” Michiel said.

Hoffner successfully sold his PS3 for about $1,000 Saturday.

Hoffner bought the 20 gigabyte version rather than the 60 GB type, which sold for $599. He threw in an iPod with the sale.

Michiel, who said he felt a “weird sense of accomplishment” after buying his PS3, is still trying to sell his on Craigslist.

“I’m actually really proud of the fact that I had this kinda stupid crazy idea and we actually followed through with it,” Michiel said.

While online auction sites had photos of receipts proving authenticity, some console-sellers had problems with phony buyers placing bids and not paying.

Global studies senior Anthony Van Daele arrived at the Richfield Best Buy on Tuesday night with his roommate and a friend. He was 16th in line.

“I was planning on studying, but I didn’t open a book,” he said.

Van Daele skipped class, hoping to make up for it by earning close to “three or four grand” for his system on eBay. But, when his auction closed on Friday, whoever won the auction with a bid of $2,375 didn’t pay.

“And now we’re stuck with all the eBay fees,” he said.

Van Daele contacted eBay, but said they are not taking action. He said eBay should have picked up on user accounts with suspicious contact information like the buyer who placed a bid on his 60 GB system.

“I wish I wouldn’t have done it at all. It’s not worth it ’cause now they’re going for $1,200,” Van Daele said. He created another auction on eBay and eventually sold the system for $1,150.

“They’re not worth as much now as they were the first night,” he said. “I just want to be done with it. I never wanna see this thing again.”