How to Get a Nintendo Switch Without a Pre-Order

The Nintendo Switch is imminent, but pre-orders were hard to come by. We walk you through your best shot at getting one from a physical retailer without a pre-order.

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The Nintendo Switch launch is upon us, and millions are going out to those who pre-ordered. However, Nintendo Switch pre-orders disappeared fast, so if you weren't lucky or simply hadn't heard of it, you may still want to find one. We'll explain how to maximize your chances of walking into a store and walking out with a shiny new Nintendo console.

Finding a Nintendo Switch

Though store allocations are difficult to find in any concrete terms, we have heard reports of various retailers that expect to have enough stock to fulfill pre-orders, with some left for walk-ins. Those include Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and Walmart. If any of these retailers are in your area, call around and ask about their stock. Specifically, make sure to ask if all of their allocation is for pre-orders, or if they have extras. Some particularly helpful retail workers might even tell you how many they expect to have.

Once you're sure they have stock to spare, be sure to ask if they're planning a midnight launch. Many retailers use midnight launches for big new products like consoles or highly-anticipated games, and many of the above chains have said they will be hosting midnight events. If they aren't hosting a midnight release, check for their regular store opening hours.

Getting Your Nintendo Switch

With all of your prep and knowledge secured, you're ready to head off to the store. But here are some tips once you leave your house:

  • Arrive to your store early! People begin lining up hours in advance, especially for midnight and early morning launches. Be ready to wait in line for a long time, if necessary. If you'd rather not wait outside in the cold and the line hasn't formed yet, feel free to visit the store or a nearby hotspot, while checking back regularly to see if the line has started up.
  • If more than one store suggested it has stock and they have staggered store opening times, plan out which order to visit them in case Plan A doesn't pan out. 
  • If you're in a cold state in the midst of winter, it will be even more bitterly cold at midnight or early in the morning. Wear warm clothes and maybe bring a hot drink. Blankets can help too, if you need to camp out.
  • If you anticipate waiting for a long time, pack food to eat while you wait in line.
  • Keep your smartphone charged, and don't drain the battery too much playing games while you wait.
  • Bring a buddy or a parent. They'll help keep you entertained and warm while you wait, and they can help watch for anyone acting rude.
  • Feel free to talk to people in line. They're all there for the same reason you are, and talking will take your mind off the wait. Plus, if a store runs out of stock, being on friendly terms may mean you get a tip on another store that could have one in stock.
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