Went through the same experience in the Denver area beginning in July! I was initially looking for a Toro 824 as well. HD was just beginning to get some machines but they were all Troy-Bilts, a few CubCadets 2x's and Toro single stages. The Louisville HD claimed to have two Toro 824's but nobody could find them or even remember seeing them. Went to several Toro independent dealers who told me to order directly from Toro and list them as the receiving dealer. Trouble was Toro didn't know when they would be shipping. Lowes had plenty of Craftsman models and I was told they would be receiving Ariens shipments soon. Went to two independent Ariens dealers, both had no available machines (had sold their alotments by July!!!) and didn't know if they would be receiving any more. One actually suggested I buy from Lowes and bring it to him for any needed service. After lurking here, asking dumb questions, and learning the pros and cons of various manufacturers I went the Ariens route and ordered a Compact 24" from Lowes. Appears to be well made machine and just as "pretty" as the Toro in my opinion. It looks like a beast sitting next to my little Toro 2 stroke single stage. It probably won't snow now that I'm ready for it.