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2010. 24 February
by Chen Dujuan
(globaltimes.cn) With the Chinese media seemingly locked into an inexorable countdown towards the Shanghai World Expo (it's 66 days and counting, since you ask), the people of Beijing have finally got the chance to display their frenzy of anticipation – in an authorized, profitable way, that is. The Shanghai Expo Licensed Products Flagship Store has thrown open its doors at the Gongmei Building in Wangfujing Pedestrian Street for the public to satisfy any craving it might have for officially licensed Expo-branded gear.
Want an umbrella with Shanghai Expo written on it? You got it. How about some stationary for the office, so you can think about the Expo while you work? It's here! The Flagship store is holding court at the former base of operations for traders in Beijing Olympics commodities, which makes sense, though the environmentally conscious Lifestyle team wonders (indeed, hopes) they have they simply taken old unsold Beijing '08 gear and re-branded it.
The shopfront certainly has a temporary, you'll-regret-buying-this-worthless-pen-tomorrow feel to it, with the main Shanghai Expo sign simply consisting of a hastily erected long, red scroll. Inside you'll find all manner of branded memorabilia, from gold and silver bars, coins and stamps, badges, porcelain, toys, clothes, stationery, ornaments, jade, glassware, bags and accessories as well as the ubiquitous mascot Haibao in different postures or clothing. Small cell phone accessories cost around 15 to 20 yuan, while the more upscale toys retail at 150 to 200 yuan; gold is valued at 356 yuan per gram here. On the fourth floor, an exhibition centre and VIP reception area, offering personalized services and promotions as well as discounts for VIP and group purchases, can be found.
Profits rise, visitors fall
According to the people running this show, the Gongmei Group, more than 5,000 types of commodities in over 20 categories are on sale at the store. Spanning over 800 square meters (300 on the first floor and 500 in the fourth) it's also the largest store of its kind in Beijing, they claim.
Marketing and Planning employee Li Ying told us, "The store used to be a common retail store when it opened in July 2009 but now it's been upgraded to flagship status. The sales revenue has increased by 15 to 20 percent from when it first opened, to around 300,000 yuan a day. The store will be "synchronized" with Shanghai to continuously enrich the types of commodities and various market activities."
In numbers, that roughly translates as selling over 8,000 different kinds of Expo products by the time the "Research and Development Department" in Shanghai have evaluated a further 3,000 different types of ways to flog a dead horse (expected to be in March) and another 2,000 by the time the Expo finally actually opens by which time some kind of Expo fatigue may well have set in.
Or perhaps it already has. There were considerably fewer shoppers present than on other floors when Lifestyle visited, a change from the situation when it was Olympics memorabilia being hawked. According to Li, sales of Expo commodities are not as good as that during the Olympics, where a turnover of over 3 million yuan a day (0.4 billion in total) was normal, but people have still shown a fondness for the merchandise. Before Spring Festival, he pointed out, the biggest sellers were noble metals, porcelains and "plush toys."
Perhaps a dip in sales is to be expected, with the Expo taking place in another city, especially one that traditionally has a rivalry with the capital. Naturally enough, the promoters are billing the market as a cultural exchange, where Beijingers' "need" for Shanghai Expo goods is satisfied whilst at the same time the official "Better City, Better Life" theme is remorselessly emphasized, bringing the brand and the city of Shanghai closer to local hearts – we say buy now, wonder why later.
Address: 1F & 4F, No. 200 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District 东城区王府井大街200号1 层、4层
Tel: 6528-8866 Ext: 1261/1123
Opening hours: 9:30 am-
How to get there: Subway Line 1 to WangfujingSource: www.globaltimes.cn