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Discount Diva: Snag those hot holiday toys now

Welp. Christmas came early to the Christmann household.

No, we haven’t put up our tree or pinched together hundreds of pierogi or anything like that. But we did get to feel the disappointment of looking for our kids’ most sought-after toys and finding them sold out everywhere.

Every year, my daughters have their hearts set on one toy. Every year, I think I’m being responsible and ordering it early. Every year, I’m wrong and find it’s already sold out or its price has been jacked up to extortion-level highs. Every year, I have to break the bad news that their special gift isn’t going to be under the tree. (No eBay bidding wars for me).

This year was a double whammy. Both of my daughters’ most desired toys are in short supply. The first are WowWee’s Fingerlings, robotic monkeys small enough to wrap themselves around your finger. They blink, babble and blow kisses in response to touch and sound. They’re adorable. They’re also sold out pretty much everywhere.

Fingerlings are one of the holiday season's hottest toys. (Photo courtesy of WowWee)

The only places I have found them are Walmart.com and Amazon.com. But both sites use dynamic pricing, so despite the toy’s suggested retail price of $14.99, they were selling for as much as $41.49 on Walmart.com Friday and as much as $69.99 on Amazon, with many sellers on backorder. Fortunately, after weeding through each of the options and checking for price differences on different colors and varieties two weeks ago, I was able to find Bella, a less desirable pink Fingerling with yellow hair for just $16.98. I snapped her up.

It’s not too bad, considering the Fingerlings Playground Playset, which has a suggested retail price of $24.99, was selling for $158.97 on Walmart.com Friday. Prices on Amazon ranged from $64.94 to $149.95 the same day.

The second problem toy was the RoseArt CharMinis Jewelry Studio, a charm jewelry-making kit that usually retails for $24.99. It has been sold out at all the usual stores – Target, Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, even Joann. It was in spotty supply on Amazon and apparently peaked in price at $55 on that site Wednesday, according to my Honey price tracker. By some miracle of God, I checked in on Amazon again at just the right time Friday, saw two in stock and grabbed one for $24.28. Third-party sellers, some of them back-ordered, had the toy priced as high as $55 Friday.

I totally lucked out.

But, you guys, it’s only October! Demand is only going to increase, parents are only going to get more desperate and resellers are only going to get more opportunistic. Stock will continue to trickle in throughout the holiday season, but at this point in the year, it’s not likely manufacturers will be able to catch up.

So here’s your warning. If there’s a must-have toy on your list, buy it now. Put it on layaway if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t wait for it to go on sale! You can always go back for a refund later if the price drops. If it’s already sold out, sign up for inventory alerts with manufacturers and retailers.

Thankfully, it looks like we will have our biggest toys under our tree after all this year. Until then, I’ll keep obsessively tracking both packages.

What are you looking for? Email me, schristmann@buffnews.com. I’ll keep an eye out for you.

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