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Q: Legacy freedom stores. The joys of being served by people with Iron rice bowls. Fun?

We have a department store a few miles away that feels like it is 40 years in the past. The stuff they sell is crap, the shelves are half empty, and every transaction is recorded in triplicate on a carbon paper pad. The staff all seem to consider every customer as a troublesome interruption to their tea break, and tonight, me and my daughter had a personal security guard following us as daughter perused the toy department.

 

This was not a fiendship store. Just an edge of town department store. But it felt like a command economy dinosaur well past its sell by date.

 

Old folk seem to love it. They can buy a rice cooker without a permit, but the hassle of buying it seems to remind them of the days when a permit was required.

 

Do you have such a store local to you?

4 years 19 weeks ago in  Shopping - China

 
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There used to be a lot more of that type of dept store - probably still are in the lower tier cities.

 

Buying stuff there..they were all pretty much identical and like Alan described them, with all the atmosphere of a morgue.

 

I remember going to them and the staff were useless. Most would be sleeping so you'd have to wake someone up and there was never any hint of a smile or even eye contact. If you asked if they had a different size or color or whatever you'd get the instant 'meiyou' that most likely meant 'I have no idea and don't give a shit about even pretending to try to find out for you'.

 

When you go to pay the salesgirl would write an invoice, you'd take it to a different place to pay then take the receipt back to the original salesgirl and pick up your new rice cooker. This was all done in triplicate as mentioned before, with red stamps banged on everything.

 

Then you'd try to find the exit. Getting up to the 6th floor was easy enough because the building must have been designed to herd the customer into the sell zone and there were escalators (not always working) going up but for some reason often not going down but after you'd bought that rice cooker presumably they didn't care about you anymore so you'd find the stairwell that seemed to be the deliveryman's entrance or a fire exit or something and go down the poorly lit, filthy stairwell wondering where you'd end up or if you'd come to a door that was chained shut and need to retrace your steps looking for another exit.

 

Then Walmart came on the scene and overnight the shopping experience changed. Walmart brought the concept of customer service to China I think.

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4 years 18 weeks ago
 
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its news tht some still exist. in my city they've all vainshd.. replaced by walmart, auchan etc. (eventually to b replacd by amazon, taobao etc.)

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4 years 18 weeks ago
 
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There used to be a lot more of that type of dept store - probably still are in the lower tier cities.

 

Buying stuff there..they were all pretty much identical and like Alan described them, with all the atmosphere of a morgue.

 

I remember going to them and the staff were useless. Most would be sleeping so you'd have to wake someone up and there was never any hint of a smile or even eye contact. If you asked if they had a different size or color or whatever you'd get the instant 'meiyou' that most likely meant 'I have no idea and don't give a shit about even pretending to try to find out for you'.

 

When you go to pay the salesgirl would write an invoice, you'd take it to a different place to pay then take the receipt back to the original salesgirl and pick up your new rice cooker. This was all done in triplicate as mentioned before, with red stamps banged on everything.

 

Then you'd try to find the exit. Getting up to the 6th floor was easy enough because the building must have been designed to herd the customer into the sell zone and there were escalators (not always working) going up but for some reason often not going down but after you'd bought that rice cooker presumably they didn't care about you anymore so you'd find the stairwell that seemed to be the deliveryman's entrance or a fire exit or something and go down the poorly lit, filthy stairwell wondering where you'd end up or if you'd come to a door that was chained shut and need to retrace your steps looking for another exit.

 

Then Walmart came on the scene and overnight the shopping experience changed. Walmart brought the concept of customer service to China I think.

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4 years 18 weeks ago
 
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Posted twice.

diverdude1:

The second post should have had my name on it.  What you wrote is exactly what I would have written.  Weird,,,, haha,,,, totally remember the multitude of sleepy looking staff and the 'meiyou',,,, haha,, I was so pleased that they could speak one word!  Brimming over with intelligence!   

I was so new back then,,, haha,,, I thought it was fun how the played the 'carbon-paper' receipt game --  buy it from at least a pretty hot looking sales girl,,, get receipt,,, take it over to Iron Curtain matron scary-looking biznatch and pay cash (no alipay, wechat back then, that's for sure!) get all the funny little red stamps, watch them pull all the copies apart,,,,  then step 3,,, go over and another matron type gives you the product (they always seemed to have a half-dead granpa type wearing those horrid looking semi-grey/blue oversized polyester uniform in there with the 'product giver',,, was he the Official Security Officer?  

Those were funny places to shop,,, imagine if kids today went in a place like that,,,, haha,,, like a time-machine back to the Bad Ol' Days.

For some reason I always expected to see The Chairman* in the next aisle over!

 

*not talking about Sinatra either ~

4 years 18 weeks ago
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Stiggs:

I don't know how but they seem to design those places to kill any sense of enjoyment or shopping pleasure and everyone who spends any time there turns into a miserable robot. A shopping dept just shouldn't feel like one of those soulless institutional buildings with bare concrete walls and floors.

 

 

I think a lot of it is the lighting they use or something, not designed for atmosphere, just for cold harsh functional light that probably flickers annoyingly all day and half the lights will be turned off to save on power so the place looks semi abandoned.

 

You never see groups of young girls out shopping together and having a good time in places like that, it's always grim looking older women looking at the racks of identical clothes. 

 

I guess that's the old style communist shopping concept, designed by officials for function only, with the idea of pleasure or a pleasant atmosphere never even being considered because these things either weren't considered important or just didn't exist back then.

4 years 18 weeks ago
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4 years 18 weeks ago
 
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just enough to get the job done, just enough to satisfy, and no more, we have to catch up to the west by spending priorities that are more important than your useless ass. Drink dirty water and wipe your ass with your hands, we got fast trains and missiles to make.

Stiggs:

Yep, that's about the size of it.

 

Although, back when those places were built I suppose they were something new and modern and probably quite exciting for people who had been malnourished subsistence farmers just a few years ago.

4 years 18 weeks ago
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ambivalentmace:

yes, it's sad to always play catch up and then the middle class trap hits and everything you have is substandard and falling apart. Personally, i want the best of a little instead of the worst of a multitude of things, but I don't think like everybody else. Life is too short for bad quality over quantity, nobody counts your shit after your dead except to pick through it for the quality.

4 years 18 weeks ago
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diverdude1:

Some China girl who had a brain and used it explained PRC development to me like this:  China is like a snake slithering up the path of development, the head is @ places like Hi-speed Rail, Canton Tower, Naval power enough to seize South China Sea, and the tail represents those living in caves in the mountains of Shanxii.

 

4 years 18 weeks ago
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Stiggs:

I think the snake thing is a  very good analogy and there's probably something in it.

 

For years China has been saying they'd do what it takes to get rich, including sacrifice the environment. Then they'd use the money to fix the environment and restore China as a world power.

 

Well they wrecked the environment but seem to be taking steps to fix it, got rich and they're becoming a pretty major world power.

 

The head is way ahead of the body.

 

 

4 years 18 weeks ago
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