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The Best Places to Get Game Consoles When They’re Sold Out Everywhere Else

Walmart game console shelf with "sold out" sign
Hunter Bliss Images/Shutterstock.com

So, you’ve been eyeing that shiny new console for a while now, and you’re finally ready to bite the bullet and make a purchase. But when you go to the store page, you only find disappointment and those three tragic words: “out of stock.” While major retailers are often the best places to buy new consoles, they’re also the quickest to sell out. But hope is not lost: There are other options worth checking out.

There are plenty of ways to buy a console today, and there are a few options you might not have considered yet. So, whether you’re currently in pursuit of your next console, or are eagerly awaiting the release of the next generation, you’ll be armed with all the information you need to hopefully snag one.

Non-Obvious Retailers

Nintendo Switch on Newegg

Moving down one peg from the major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, there are plenty of less obvious retailers that are worth checking on. Stores like Kohls, Sears, and Sam’s Club carry game consoles, and there are also online retailers like B&H Photo, Newegg, QVC, and HSN. Because none of these are stores that spring into your head when you think “video games,” there’s a chance that they’ll have a few consoles lying around even when more popular stores have been rung dry.

If you want even more options, however, some local stores can surprise you. One of the best options for this is any locally owned gaming- or computer-related stores in your area. You can find these pretty easily through a quick Google search, and you can score some great deals depending on who’s running the shop. (Although, the reverse is also true, as some stores charge ridiculously high prices.) These aren’t your only option for local stores though: Pawn shops, flea markets, and even some grocery stores can sell game consoles as well (although, relying on these options can be a major roll of the dice).

It’s also worth looking for used or refurbished consoles from retailers if you’re not after a brand-new system. GameStop is particularly great for this, as it always carries plenty of used and refurbished consoles. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart shouldn’t be disregarded though, as they commonly carry refurbished units as well. If you’re looking for a Nintendo system, then you can usually find refurbished units sold directly off its website.

Finally, many sites track the stock of consoles across multiple retailers, such as NowInStock.net and zoolert. These sites can be an invaluable tool when you’re search for a console, as they typically allow you to set reminders and alerts for when products come back in stock.

Reseller Marketplaces

eBay Game Consoles

When all official retailers are sold out, you still have a couple more options. Reseller marketplaces like eBay and Mercari are often crawling with the latest consoles even in periods of stock drought. You can even find third parties reselling consoles on Amazon’s and Walmart’s websites, as both companies allow for third-party vendors.

But be warned, if you’re going down this route, you’ll likely need to pay higher than market value for your new system. If a console is out of stock everywhere, that heavily motivates resellers to increase prices. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for a popular console to sell at $50 to $150 above its normal price. It’s certainly not ideal, but if you’re desperate for a brand-new system it may become your only choice.

Of course, you could always look for used units if you’re comfortable with that, which usually offers a lower than market value price. Obviously, if the console you’re after just released, you won’t have much luck here, but sometimes you can be surprised. You might even get a great deal by finding a bundle of controllers and games along with the console itself. If you want to ensure great prices, it’s worth looking at price charting websites, such as pricecharting.com, which can give you a general idea of how much certain consoles are going for in reseller markets.

Person-to-Person Sales

Facebook Marketplace Video Games

If all else fails, you could always buy a console from someone in your area. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are the most popular for this, but smaller sites like OfferUp and Nextdoor are worth checking out as well. Depending on the area you live in, you can find tons of people selling consoles both new and used. In large metro areas, there can be tons of people selling consoles at great prices because there’s a lot of competition. On the other hand, if you live in the middle of the country miles away from the nearest town, your options are going to be a lot more limited.

Of course, that also depends on how far you’re willing to travel, but in general, person-to-person sales are a lot riskier than other methods. You can get scammed or have your time wasted, but if you’re careful about which deals you’re willing to chase, this can lead to some great results. Just like with reseller markets, using a price charting site to ensure you’re getting a good deal is a smart idea. After all, there’s always the option of haggling to possibly get the price down.

There are few things more frustrating than attempting to track down an out of stock item. Jumping through hoops like this just to buy something is never fun, but when you’re competing with millions of other people, it becomes necessary. But once you finally score the system you’ve been chasing, it makes all the effort worth it.

Eric Schoon Eric Schoon
Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you. Read Full Bio »