Monday, September 24, 2007

A Scam of Olympic Proportions

Some relatives from Australia asked me to send them some Beijing Olympics merchandise for their kids.

And of course the fuwa or five "friendlies" are the perfect gifts for little ones.

But it's a drag buying these Olympics souvenirs. It's a scam that's driving me crazy.

First of all, if you want to get a T-shirt or a bag or pen with all five of the mascots on them, it's next to impossible. The marketing committee was too clever in creating five characters and so the merchandising department designed five different kinds of pens, bags, shirts, hats and so on.

It makes it hard to decide what to buy as I don't want to have to choose one fuwa over another. They all look the same to me.

Second, while there are many stands in department stores and even at the Silk Market selling Olympics souvenirs, each one sells slightly different merchandise.

You have to go to every single store to see if you like what they have. And if they have it, you have to buy it. Because there is no guarantee that the next store you encounter will have the same thing.

In the past three days including today I have gone to three different shops. And they don't have exactly what I'm looking for. Most of them have the coin and pin collections which are utterly useless for elementary school-aged girls. While one store has one style of mug, the other has a different design with different handles.

And the service varies with the stores too. They range from very friendly and try to be helpful to completely indifferent which I encountered tonight. How these staff are hired I have no idea. But if the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee is spending so much time and effort training Olympics volunteers and staff, could they not put a little more training into the staff who sell souvenirs?

But more importantly, could someone please explain why every store has different merchandise? I feel like I have to visit every single one in the city to find what I want. And that's a frustrated shopper's nightmare come true.


ks said...

why get frustrated on these little things. why spend time on making useless decisions . just pick the ones that hit your eye. random selection is the most scientific way to go when you dont have any idea what to get. so long as the price is right , take it. a souvienir is a transient thing. the one you pick may not please the perosn who receives it. dont be so rigid, be flexible. the only constant in this world is change.

IheartNY said...

that's the whole point of having different selection in each store. I asked the same question when i was in beijing last year and the answer i got was that it encouraged people to buy stuff when they see it, and to visit many stores. they do that in america too but you probably don't buy enough souvenirs to notice.