Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dialing For Dollars

Every year, there's a hot Christmas present. When I was a kid, it the Cabbage Patch kids that drew the frenzy (I ended up with an obvious knockoff that year). I've watched from afar the frenzy of the Tickle Me Elmo and the Beanie Babies, always thankful that I was ... well, afar.

This year, Mister Man and I roamed through Costco the week after Thanksgiving perusing the toys they had on hand to get an idea of what he and Little Miss might like for Christmas. He found a few things, and I made note of them.

On Black Friday, my husband went shopping, and he found the Crayola Crayon Maker (a hot item on Mister Man's very short list of ummm one item). Or at least, he found it advertised. When he arrived at the store, he ended up with a rain check as it wasn't a Black Friday special but instead just on sale.

Since we were in St. Louis, and we know my in-laws have no idea what to buy for anyone, they offered to hold onto the rain check for us and purchase the item. Fine with us, as that's one less item that we need to buy.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when my husband found out that his parents hadn't actually purchased the Crayon Maker. In their book, they then just wrote it off.

When my husband informed me of the news, I sighed but didn't despair. Little Miss and I were near some stores, so we surreptitiously shopped the toy department of two stores with no luck.

After we arrived home, I started looking online. Site after site -- including Amazon -- was sold out. Ooo not looking good. Then my husband announced that he was finding auctions on eBay where the Crayon Maker was being sold for $80 and more. Yikes!

In the interim, my husband visited the less busy Costco near us to see if he could purchase the Crayon Maker there. No dice. He spent the next hour driving from suburb to suburb stopping at all likely stores. He came home empty-handed.

That's when I got serious. I started searching for availability, which is when I found the following message on the Crayola website:

The Crayola Crayon Maker is a popular holiday item, with limited availability at many U.S. retail stores. We have encountered an extremely high consumer demand that has exceeded our expectations. Unfortunately, we cannot manufacture additional units in time to ship to retailers before the holidays. Please check the following retail stores in your area:

Walmart, Toys R Us, Target, Michael's, K-Mart,, A.C.Moore, Meijer,, JoAnn Stores, Shopko, Kohl's, Fred Meyer, Wegman's, Boscov's and Costco.

In my mind, this was good news. I knew where they were sold, and we have many of those stores in my area. In fact, the Walmart Website listed three stores in my area that had the Crayon Maker either in stock or with limited quantities.

My husband called the first Walmart and struck out. Then he called the second and third that the website should have some quantity left. Nope.

In the intervening two and a half hours, my husband and I have called every single Target, Meijer, Walmart, JoAnn's, Kohl's, Michael's, K-Mart, Toys R Us, and Costco in the area.

This is when I'm thankful that it's a Sunday and we aren't burning our cell phone minutes on our fruitless search, as not a one of them had the Crayon Maker in stock.

I was briefly optimistic when the K-Mart online chat found some websites that were still selling the Crayon Maker. Of course, that was using the term loosely. For the item that was less than $20 before Thanksgiving, the lowest price was $68.64. Some were close to $100.

My husband has started looking at all the prices on the eBay auctions, but I refuse. Christmas is about giving; it isn't about trying to make a quick buck off someone. I refuse to perpetuate the trend of people buying up what they think the "hot toy" will be and then selling it to the highest bidder. To me, that's as anti-Christmas as it gets.

The new questions he's asking me is what I plan to tell Mister Man come Christmas morning. Will I tell him that he wasn't good enough for Santa to bring it? (No.) Will I tell him he wasn't worth $80? (No.) Will I ruin his Christmas? (No!)

While this is a toy he wants, we don't always get what we want, and that's fine. He has a number of other toys and books that we've bought and that my parents have bought that I know he'll enjoy. I'd be willing to bet that he doesn't even remember about the Crayon Maker that day.

Am I wrong for holding hte line on not wanting people to profit from a shortage of product on Christmas?

And once Crayola is able to make more of them and have them in stores again? I'll go out with the wee ones, and we'll buy one together. I'm sure we'll enjoy it then, and in the interim no one's life will be ruined. And next year? If there's an item Mister Man really wants, I am not relying on my in-laws to procure it, thank you very much.

PS If you need a little Christmas present for yourself, my LOFT $200 gift card giveaway is ending on 12/25. And my $200 VISA gift card giveaway ends the following week.


Unknown December 20, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

Oh no! This reminds me of Christmas 1989 where WE had to have Baby Sparkles and she was nowhere to be found. My hubby tracked her down near one of his stops on the far southside of Chicago and a merry Christmas was had by all. I will keep my eyes open while I'm out and about this week.

Jeff and Charli Lee December 20, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

No, you are right on. It used to drive me bananas when people were paying hundreds of dollars for a stupid Tickle Me Elmo only because a consumer driven demand created an artificial frenzy for a toy that wasn't even worth the original retail price. Kids will survive just fine if they don't get the hyped up item of the season. There's only about a bazillion other toys you can buy them instead.

And like you just said, you can buy it one month later right off the shelf. That crap makes me insane.

A Musing Mother December 21, 2009 at 12:31 AM  

Suddenly my littlest one is writing to Santa that he wants a green sled. I've been finished with Christmas shopping for a week. I'm not going back out there.

If, after getting all the great stuff that I got EARLY, he remembers and asks about it, I'm sure I can think up some lie.

Unknown December 21, 2009 at 1:07 AM  

Saw boat loads of them at Michaels craft store in the kids crayola dept! I have one in my storage closet for shipping I'll send it to you! Email me!!! I think I could get it to you for 25 bucks or so! It was purchased at bishops attic but seems in reasonable shape. I am for serious on this one.

Unknown December 21, 2009 at 1:15 AM  

OK I just looked at it and it is brand new in the box. It turns from green to yellow or vice versa. It has never been used. I emailed you so the ball is in your court.

WeaselMomma December 21, 2009 at 5:30 AM  

I agree that Mr. Man will be fine. I also have often been frustrated and find it disparaging of people trying to make ludicrous profits on the backs of parents trying to fill their Christmas lists. It is the opposite of Christmas Spirit.

Karen December 21, 2009 at 7:29 AM  

I think you're right-on in your philosophy. Kids are happy with gifts at Christmas, no matter what they get. And the crayon maker will be a special treat later that you'll enjoy together.

Anonymous December 21, 2009 at 7:45 AM  

I find the idea of the "it" toy to be ridiculous. Kids don't really care/can't do enough to make it happen, so it's all the parents fault. I saw a ton of crayon makers before Thanksgiving. I wish I had known, I could have worked on my early retirement package. Good luck in your hunt!

Brenda December 21, 2009 at 11:59 AM  

If it's out o stock on Amazon, you can use this method:

It works!

Teacher Tom December 21, 2009 at 12:12 PM  

It's enough to make me more of a socialist than I already am!

Dunno about crayons, but I can teach you how to make chalk and it will only cost a few pennies . . . =)

Angie's Spot December 21, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

Oh, I don't blame you for passing on this one. The whole Zhu Zhu pet phenomenon has been the big thing around here. Not from my kids (thank goodness) but from several friends kids. And I've managed to procure 2 of them this season with no problem at all. Sometimes I'm just in the right place at the right time. I'm sure Mister Man will have a fab Christmas with or without the crayon maker!

Michelle December 21, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

Megryansmom - Baby Sparkles? I totally missed that phenomenon (thankfully?). Glad you were able to track her down though!

Jeff - Thank you for the affirmation :) I'm so with ya. I know my one person boycott of buying the resold toys won't make a difference, but it feels good to me.

A Musing Mom - A green sled, huh? That's not the easiest thing to find either. Fortunately kids learn that Santa can't bring EVERYthing they want (he has a three present limit at my house -- just like Baby Jesus).

Laura - Wow, you have one in your storage closet? Lady, you need to go on Let's Make A Deal (the old one). I'll send you an email back, although it's probably too late for now... and I've accepted it.

WeaselMomma - Completely the opposite, and I'm glad to have you on my bandwagon. He'll live.

Karen - Exactly. They get so much it's overwhelming anyway. It'll be more special when it's just on its own.

Shelly - So with ya. I didn't even know this WAS an "it" toy until I went to look for it this weekend. Silly me.

Brenda - Thanks for that one. I'll have to save that trick. Unfortunately the manufacturer can't get more out right now, so they're well and truly sold out. Someday though!

Tom - Even more? Heaven forbid! I actually do make chalk (including liquid squirt chalk) and bubbles. And dough. I may have to compare chalk recipes though, as mine gets a bit TOO solid.

Angie - I don't see the Zhu Zhu pets as being something the wee ones would like... and they don't even know what they are, so that's lucky. If only you were with me on the Crayon Maker hunt ;)

Angela December 23, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

Now see, this is a good example of what I'm afraid of once we do have kids. I'll have to become like my mother - shopping in July! LOL!

Actually the crayon maker sounds AWESOME, but I agree, learning delayed gratification is a good thing sometimes. And if he doesn't bring it up, all the better!

This kind of thing reminds me that, while it's not quite as much fun, it is nice when hubby and I buy and swap gifts early. We don't always do that, but this year we did because my iPod had gone out. And sadly, I couldn't wait the extra month to open it Friday. LOL!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma December 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Maybe you can update us on how this turned out....did he even remember? I agree that not getting everything, or sometimes having to wait, isn't all bad. Doesn't sound like he's greedy, though, since it was the only thing on his list!

BPOTW December 26, 2009 at 3:54 PM  

I agree with you for not being hijacked. I refuse to pay extra, too. That's why I try very hard to shop early.

I know this might sound callous, but he'll have another list soon enough and won't care about that toy.

Hope your New Year is the best!

Mrs4444 December 27, 2009 at 8:02 AM  

I'm sure he'll survive having to wait a day or two to get one :) It's character building, right?

One year, Kyle wanted a jack-in-the-box. Santa wrote him a note that said it fell off the sleigh and he felt really bad but hoped Kyle would instead accept ?? (I can't remember anymore, but he did :)

Michelle December 27, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

Angela - I think part of the problem is that the parents are as into the toy as the kids.... So far no luck, but they'll make more in the next month or two :)

Blissed-Out Grandma - He did remember, and he was sad. I explained that we tried really REALLY hard and that we'll go look for one in January or February and that will be more special because he doesn't have all sorts of other toys then. He was fine after that.

Betty - Glad to hear I'm not the only one. My husband still keeps saying we should have just paid the extra. He actually doesn't ask for things in general though (which is why this was the one thing for him), but ... we're not worried :)

Mrs4444 - Actually it'll probably be a month or two. I've checked in a few stores to see if there are any returns, but no dice yet. Santa unfortunately didn't write a note, although I believe that was considered. :)

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