Sunday, July 08, 2007


Bag dad in Lan Kwai Fong

If you had to ask people what Hongkongers' national sport is, it would be "Shopping". They (and I say they because I've never figured out the art of shopping) LOVE to shop. They go on tours to Japan, to shop, they visit Malaysia to shop, and Dubai to shop. They think one of the greatest tourist attractions of Hong Kong is its shopping. In fact living in Hong Kong is like living in one giant shopping mall.
I think this comes as a result of living in such tiny flats. But I cannot for the life of me see where anyone could put all of the loot from the "shopping".
Nowhere was the spirit of bargain hunting more alive than last week at the launch of a designer (Hindermarch) canvass bag bearing the words "I'm not a plastic bag". It sold for about $120 (US$2.8).
Now, canvass bags are not new in Hong Kong. You can buy them at the local supers and use them instead of plastic bags. It's something that's encouraged as you get a few cents off your shopping. There are designer bags galore in Hong Kong, Coco and Vuitton and all those inbetween.
Fair enough the Hindermarch was a limited edition and had fetched a few extra bob on ebay. But the mentality of shoppers was an exercise in psychology.
First off, the shop was giving out certificates to shoppers the day before the bag went on sale, so that the following day they would know they could get what they were waiting for.
Yet the queues started early and soon potential customers were becoming disgruntled. Not to be unexpected because the weather was hot and wet. But a quick survey of the expectant crowd found that some people didn't even know what they were queuing for!
They were quite prepared to spend the night on the wet, hot and by now considerably dirty street for a US2.8 canvass bag.
Was this an environmental statement? Not bloodly likely. Not judging by the litter left over by the crowd.
How sad are people's lives that they feel the urge to do this. Does it give them elevated status in the eyes of their friends for all of 30 minutes? Or is it just Hongkongers needing to make a few extra bucks.
The company released a few bags early, hoping the crowd would go away.
It didn't, it grew.
One indigant customer complained that she was a VIP shopper and should not have to queue with the hoi poloi.
The following day the situation had worsened, with hundreds of people queuing outside in the strees, causing foot traffic congestion and demanding their "rights" to a darn bag. What? Rights?
One woman even missed her flight to San Francisco so that the customer relations people would "explain to her why she couldn't have a bag".
No doubt she will sue them for the money it cost her to change her ticket.
It is not just Hong Kongers that love to shop. Americans love it too. They will stand in lines for days for the latest cellphone that can do everything but wash your dishes. I don't get it but now my shopping for groceries will be even more difficult. They will be standing in the isles of the grocery store talking on their new cell phones oblivious to other shoppers trying to get at the green beans behind them. Maybe I will smack them with my Gucci handbag.
What is this huh?
Shopping! She's talking about shopping! She's even got The Bear puzzled. Okay that's not hard.
I hate it when people talk on their mobiles right in front of you. It's like their can't walk and talk at the same time. They need to pull over off the streets. I'd bean them with a gucci too.
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