Let the shopping begin

By Jeffery Whitfield and Johnny Jackson

Frank Wilson began his holiday shopping days before today's after-Thanksgiving sales. But the Jonesboro resident expects his son soon may ask for a popular toy that may be hard to find.

“The Xbox 360. I'm sure that will be the next (toy) on my son's list. He's already talked about the graphics,” the 38-year-old said.

The Microsoft product is a popular item on holiday wish lists for residents in Clayton and Henry counties, said McDonough resident Tichina Stodghill.

“I saw people standing at line at Wal-Mart in (McDonough) at 7 a.m.,” the 18-year-old said. The store currently is sold out of the Xbox.

GameStop, EB Games and Best Buy opened hundreds of stores across the country for midnight launch events of the Xbox last Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. Many residents waited hours in line for a chance to purchase the system.

The system is sold in two packages: an Xbox Core system, which costs $299, and a premium system, which costs $399.

Dante Benjamin, store manager of Babbages, which is located in Southlake Mall, said the Xbox 360 is popular because of its overall graphics and gameplay. The store sold out of the system early Tuesday morning.

“We'll be sold out throughout the holiday season and probably won't have any in until the beginning of the year,” Benjamin said.

Most retailers have refused to say how many of the consoles they have in stock, but Microsoft has conceded that an ambitious plan to launch the console worldwide within a few weeks will mean fewer consoles initially in North America.

The National Retail Federation, an industry trade association, said that the Xbox is among the hottest toys for boys this holiday season. The top items are video games for boys and Barbie toys for girls.

But there are toys other than Xbox systems that are popular in the Southern Crescent.

Yu-Gi-Oh's are some of the hottest-selling items this year at Toy Liquidators at the Tanger Outlet Center in Locust Grove.

Corporate rankings put the Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Disk Shooter tops on the list of best-selling toys, said store manager Trina Hunter.

Toys like Dancing Dora are also selling well, she said.

“She's really, really cute,” Hunter said of the dancing and singing Dora doll.

The toy retails for about $20.

Hunter said that reissued and anniversary edition board games also are hot items. “We recently started carrying more of the name-brand games,” she said.

Anniversary editions of Twister, an upgraded model for its 35th year, sell for about $15 and a combined Clue and Sorry! game retails for about $20.

And toys associated with children's TV show “Barney” are also hot items, Hunter said.

“I have been told Barney is extremely hard to find, but I've got a fairly good selection here,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.