Greetings from Yiwu, China.
Last week I was musing about differing asian reaction's to the Scottish bid for independence. Bad idea! I thought I was offering a few views from different perspectives, and being careful not to take sides. I just upset lots of people on both sides of the argument. If you promise not to get upset with me you can read it here. Note to self: Don't discuss politics in newsletters.
To make amends I'm going to let you in on my top importers tip.
Here in Yiwu (regular readers will know) is the worlds biggest wholesale market for small goods. That includes gifts, and at the last count 90,000 small and big business display their goods here and are up for doing a deal. We have a warehouse and office here so I visit very regularly to find the latest trends in giftware and all the stuff we stock.
First I just wanted to share with you my day in Yiwu.
Mark, our agent here has a young son he is bright as a button and has just started at junior school which happens to be close to the market area. So to save Mark taking his son to school, traveling back to the outskirts of the city to pick me up and then going back into the city all in the rush hour. I have been going on the school run, Chinese style.
Thousands of kids go to this school, so thousands of cars descend on one set of back streets. 7.30am is big breakfast time. Lots of long tables on the street outside bustling kitchens pumping out wonton soup, dumplings, fried eggs and something like crispy nan-breads. It's all jolly friendly and communal. Everyone is so well dressed, Mum's and Dad's or Grandparents and the also the trendy kids (no uniforms I note), I think it is pretty competitive here. So I'm at the middle of the table tucking into a delicious wonton soup, Mark has gone to the kitchen to procure more dumplings. Young Loui turns to the whole table (who are clearly interested in the foreign guy) and announces proudly; "My Father has lots of Lǎowài (foreign) friends.. this tall one here is just one of them" this is apparently a high status thing for a young boy. And very embarrassing for me.
Lǎowài is a word you hear a lot in China, people often comment at seeing one. Even in Yiwu which full of them, I often get asked for a picture along side someone. There are Lǎowài who make a living out of renting themselves out to business meetings to enhance the importance of a company.
Breakfast over and young son despatched to school, we head to the market. Mark has learned that one of his old school friends now runs a very successful scarf manufacturing business. They have some big orders from a huge Russian company. Naturally they have a showroom in the mega scarf market. Think of the biggest shopping centre you have been in, double that and imagine every store selling scarves. It's like that, I like to imagine just the sample scarves on show, put end to end would reach to the moon and back :)
So here's my top tip. It's called: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.
You know the company has a very big order, you have a good connection. You ask nicely if it is possible to get the same rates if you buy from the big buyers range.
Usually you get a yes, because it is easy additional business.
It's been a good day, I'm delighted to have sourced some very tasteful rather posh, but surprisingly good value scarves which should arrive well in time for Mother's Day next year.
It's creeping up on us, don't be scared. Halloween is only a few weeks away. See our deals below..
Until next week.