Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Fuyou Lu Christmas

Today I went with four other gals to the Fuyou Road Small Commodities Market. I've been there a handful of times over the past six months. They have four floors of literally any small thing you could think of in bulk. Buttons? Stickers? Hair bands? Miles of silver and gold chain? Socks? Decorations? They have all that and so much more. I was told that come November, the Market would explode with Christmas. I was told correctly!

Christmas is spilling out of the building into the street! I totally need that chartreuse tree peeking out there, don't I?
It's a crazy place anyway, but toss in the traditional holiday decorations from every country in the world (all made in China of course) and it brings a whole new meaning to decking the halls. I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday by far. Although if you count my Christmas Eve birthday as a holiday, then maybe they would tie, because I love birthdays too. I love decorating for Christmas and add to our arsenal of magic making supplies each year. Though two years ago I went through and seriously culled a good part of our collection as well. Out with some of the old to make room for the new!

I saw every kind of decoration today, from the cheap and tacky to the more classy. They were all jumbled together though, which made sifting through it all a bit of a task. The ladies I was with had a specific list of things they needed. I was more along for the ride, though I certainly didn't come home empty handed.

If Christmas got a tummy ache and threw up, it would look like this.
 The key to all the markets, whether home goods, fabric, or even food, is to bargain, bargain, bargain. I hate bargaining. Just give me a fair price and wrap it up while I hand you the cash. But no, you have to work for what you want. It's part of the process. Today we found ourselves bargaining down crazy amounts and walking away with really good deals. I got two ten foot long pine garlands for 15 RMB, which is about $2.50 USD. Somewhere in the middle of walking away from something because they were asking 4 RMB (.70 cents USD) and I was only willing to pay 2 RMB (.35 cents USD), I had two thoughts. First, how much does it cost them to manufacture these items? And second, in America I would have found the identical product in Target or Michael's for $5-10 USD, which suddenly looked like highway robbery. Some things are crazy expensive here (imported groceries, electronics, clothing that fits an American frame vs. a tiny Asian one). And some things are dirt cheap. But evidently not cheap enough if I was willing to walk away over .35 cents!

My friends are standing in front of stockings on the wall which would sell in America for $15+.
We got an armful for less than $1 apiece.

We managed to get a 6 foot Christmas tree and 20 strands of LED Christmas lights for 140 RMB. A whopping $23 USD. Happy Christmas Dance shall now commence!
But I guess the difference in shopping for Christmas decorations on Fuyou Road instead of at Target or Macy's or Michael's in America is the old adage of getting what you paid for. The product may be identical to what you just picked up this weekend at the mall, grumbling as you were over the Christmas music blasting through the store before Thanksgiving, but it came in appealing packaging, attractively displayed on a non-rusty shelf. In a nice store with wide aisles and heating (or air conditioning). With a lovely (or grumpy, it happens) salesperson who gets at least the current US minimum wage of $7.25 USD per hour. With bathrooms that aren't just a hole in the ground surrounded by cardboard, where bringing your own toilet paper is a necessity. And actual Christmas music instead of the chorus of men coughing and hawking and spitting and women shouting at the top of their lungs while someone yells at you to get out of the way of the oversized cart they are trying to push down an impossibly tiny aisle.

Good grief. When I lay it out like that, I'm so glad I walked away from paying that extra .35 cents. But now that I've seen what they've got, I'm so going back in. Making up my list, checking it twice, and pushing my way into the masses to bargain aggressively and emerge victoriously with everything necessary to transform our Shanghai flat into the winter wonderland it is crying out to be!

P.S. In Mandarin Chinese, the word for road is lu. My ability to speak coherent English is eroding and blending with the small amount of Mandarin I've absorbed to the point where I messaged a friend in the States that the place they were looking for in California was "on Sepulveda Lu and Hawthorne Lu." They replied "Is that like Skip to my Lu?" And I, completely confused, not realizing what I'd messaged, said, "You can skip if you want, but driving is preferred if you want to get there some time this week." Awesome. But at least that explains why the name of this post is A Fuyou Lu Christmas. I know you were wondering and thought I'd answer before you asked. Merry Christmas!


  1. Yes it's 'cheap' for a reason! Also it's service and presentation that is also important. That's why I go to Target not K-Mart; Macy's not Ross or Nordstrom not Nordstrom Rack. But I do love some Outlet shopping!!

  2. It's funny how similar Korea is in some ways, yet so different in others. While Christmas here is making its presence known, it's not quite as over-the-top in our markets - although you can find things if you know where to look(the flower markets are great for this.) Also, bargaining in Korea is not exactly encouraged - you might ask for a slight discount on something, but if you ask for too large of a discount, you run the risk of hurting the merchant's feelings - at which point they increase the asking price! Also - thankfully - while they do have squat toilets here, they are porcelain and (usually) plumbed...but toilet paper is not always a given, either! Enjoy your Christmas - it's my favorite, too!

  3. Hello! I just ran across this post. I can't wait to head to the market next month myself--thanks for the tips!


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