Found this story over on Slashdot which points to a story on PlanetGameCube.
It appears that Nintendo, intent on getting a jump on the Xbox launch this week, has started shipping GameCube consoles. (YES!) This is a week earlier than was anticipated. While some stores claim to have been told by their corporate liasons to Nintendo that they will be fined if they sell early, this appears to not be the case.
Nintendo has told us that stores are free to sell the GameCube as soon as it arrives, in order to get a jump on the X-Box launching on Thursday. They also said that no store would be fined for breaking the release date.
Call your stores! It's possible that the GameCube could be at major stores as early as TODAY, but more likely by Wednesday. If your store claims that they are not allowed to sell them, POLITELY ask them to call their Nintendo rep, and double-check. While it's possible you're going to get some rude managers, and they will refuse to help you, being rude back will NOT get you a Cube.
The stores will have to call their Nintendo rep ... Nintendo is NOT pro-actively contacting stores to let them know about the shift in policy. If the stores don't call, they're going to get the short end of the stick here. Nintendo is not publically going to comment, so this is the only way they will know.
News source: PlanetGameCube