Something strange is developing around the Nintendo Wii phenomenon and it's showing capitalism at its finest.
I was skeptical about a derivatives market in the Wii actually existing, but now I have confirmation that one does exist, and it's happening at Best Buys and Toys 'R' Us stores and other retailers trafficking in Wiis nationwide.
Here's the m.o.: shoppers get wind of when a Wii shipment is due to arrive, either by greasing a store manager, or by watching ads carefully, and begin lining up hours before the store opens. A store employee will then come out, hand out tickets or numbered placeholders to keep things orderly, and then the buying and selling begins.
Typically there's only 30 or 40 Wiis in a shipment so as the line grows, those low numbers gain in value. A source at Best Buy tells me those tickets -- think of them as "warrants" -- can command prices from $300 to $1,000, according to what he's witnessed himself. The ticket, the warrant, is usually only good for the first few hours the store is open, so it becomes an option with an expiration date.
After the tickets are bought and sold, shoppers come in, purchase the Wii, head home and either keep their bounty, or put it up on eBay where they can more than make up for the price they paid to buy the Wii in the first place. Everybody wins.
Best Buy doesn't encourage or discourage the practice. It just wants to make the sale. The company, as well as others at retailers witnessing this practice, are terribly squeamish about talking about any of this on the record.
But the folks I'm talking to say Sundays are THE day for this kind of action. And this coming Sunday, being the LAST Sunday before Christmas, could see, well, historic action in the blossoming Nintendo Wii derivatives market! They've never seen anything like it.
There's even the risk of insider trading! Employee discounts are not allowed on the Wii, and workers who try to buy from the inside run the risk of getting "termed," Best Buy-speak for getting fired. So they've got to go outside and stand on line like everyone else. Still, they have a leg up since they know WHEN to stand on line, when a shipment is coming in.
Free-enterprise with a holiday shopping twist. I love America.
Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com