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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Toys "R" Us Has Its Own Brand of Bottled Water in China

Only two days after its Halloween sale ended on October 31, a Toys "R" Us store in Zhongshan, China, began its Singles Day sale. So would the store begin another holiday sale two days after Singles day on November 11?

I briefly stopped by the store on November 13, and the answer was "no". There wasn't a sale of any variety.

Personally, I found something satisfying in seeing the store sale-free. Perhaps having zero intent to buy anything was a factor. Perhaps it was because I had wondered if they would have already started a seemingly inevitable Christmas sale.

But at least there was still something new which intrigued me, though it might be something I just didn't notice before. To be honest, I haven't ever memorized the store's full inventory.

So, without further ado, here is Toys "R" Us Pure Water:

Toys "R" Us bottled water in China


The 330 ml bottles of water sell for 3 yuan (currently about U.S. 43 cents) each or 5 yuan for two. For comparison, 500 ml bottles of two popular brands of water — one spring water and the other purified water — commonly sell for 2 yuan each at convenience stores in Zhongshan. And cheaper prices can be found at grocery stores.

In the past, Toys "R" Us sold Babies "R" Us Purified Baby Water by the gallon. It included minerals intended to make it better for mixing with infant formula. And Toys "R" Us Canada currently sells Ice River Springs Nursery Water. But what is sold at the Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan is just regular purified water bottled in Jiading, Shanghai. So why would Toys "R" Us sell it? And why would people spend more for it?

I asked a store employee why they were selling water and didn't get anything more meaningful than "no reason". Well, Toys "R" Us most likely does have reasons. It is possible some people desire it and are willing to pay more because of the colorful label or the branding. But other more pragmatic explanations are also possible. For example, Toys "R" Stores I have visited in China typically have some open toys set out such as building blocks that typically involve longer term interactions. Now a parent can take care of their thirst or their child's without needing to the leave the fun. So, there's the possibility of both increased happiness and increased sales.

Whatever the motivations, out of due diligence I sacrificed 3 yuan so I could do a taste test. I can report that Toys "R" Us Pure Water tastes just like water.

I don't expect to buy another bottle. No reason why.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Snail's Pace in Zhongshan

small snail
A small friendly snail in Zhongshan


Posting has been lighter than usual lately, and by "lately" I mean for a while — which raises the question of what counts as "usual" in this case. Anyway, planning to change that soon — the usual.

Friday, November 16, 2018

A Photo of a Photo of a Man Taking a Photo of an Armed Policeman in Zhongshan

Next to the sidewalk on a gate near the Zhongshan Veteran Cadre Activities Center (山市老干部活动中心) in Zhongshan is a collection of photos posted by the Zhongshan Veteran Cadre Photography Association (中山市老干摄影会).

Collection of photographs by the Zhongshan Veteran Cadre Photography Association (中山市老干摄影会) posted outside


Unsurprisingly, the photos appear to have been mostly, if not entirely, taken in Zhongshan. I found the photos intriguing for the glimpse they provided of what captures the interest of some people in the city. One photo especially caught my attention not just for the scene it captured but also because it raised questions in my mind about whether I would have taken it at a close distance, despite knowing I would have surely found the scene worthy of a photo.

Man photographing a armed member of the People's Armed Police with his mobile phone


The photograph by Bao Jin (鲍进) is titled "Don't Move" ("别动") — fitting in multiple ways.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fog Machines, Doves, and Target Heads: More Singles Day Promotions in Zhongshan

dancers at Chotef (周大发) promotion for Singles Day in Zhongshan
Dancing for Singles Day in Zhongshan, China


A number of promotions for Singles day began early last week in Zhongshan. In one of the many signs that retailers weren't content to celebrate Singles Day on just one single day, on Saturday, the day before the holiday, a Chotef (周大发) jewelry store at the west end of the Sun Wen West Road Pedestrian Street held a Singles Day promotion including performances.

Chotef (周大发) promotion for Singles Day in Zhongshan


During the late afternoon, I saw some women dancing, similar to an earlier Halloween performance elsewhere in Zhongshan. Unlike what I saw at a similar promotion at a jewelry store in Ganzhou, there wasn't a dancing dinosaur, but at least there was a fog machine.

fog machine working at Chotef (周大发) promotion for Singles Day in Zhongshan


When I passed by later during the evening, I caught the end of another performance.

evening Chotef (周大发) promotion for Singles Day in Zhongshan


For a change of pace that many children seemed to particularly enjoy, afterwards a magician performed.

magician with a white dove dancers at Chotef (周大发) promotion for Singles Day in Zhongshan


A live dove appeared thrilled about its magical appearance.

I didn't return to this location on Singles Day, but presumably there was more of the same. Elsewhere, I didn't notice much occurring other than the typical sales for the holiday.

But there was one thing which really caught my eye. Earlier, I shared an example of a Singles Day promotion at a store for the Chinese clothing brand La Chapelle. A La Chapelle store at another mall in Zhongshan was holding the same promotion, except they had a display I hadn't seen before.

La Chapelle display for Singles Day with targets for women's heads


Using dartboards for heads in a Singles Day promotional display of women's clothing seemed . . . off target. Since this didn't seem like something I would miss and I was later near the first store I had noticed, I double-checked, and indeed it had no similar display. So perhaps La Chapelle didn't intend for its stores to depict women's heads as targets, and this is a single lone example.

In any case, though some stores have concluded their Singles Day promotion since the holiday is over, some haven't. So if you want to enjoy Chotef's special deals for the holiday, you have until November 19 — eight whole single days extra.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Christmas Trees and Not Quite Thermal Underwear: Signs of the Season at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China

While some retailers in China have moved on from promotions for Halloween to ones for the upcoming Singles Day, others are already bringing attention to holidays more distant in the future. For example, at Zhongshan's only Walmart* Christmas-themed items are now on sale.

Christmas trees for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


Christmas items for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


Christmas items for sale at a Walmart in Zhongshan, China


The items immediately greet customers when they enter the store. And near them are indications that although daytime temperatures are still reaching into the low 80s (high 20s in Celsius) the weather in in Zhongshan will get chillier.

jackets on display under "thermal underwear" signs at a Walmart in Zhongshan


However, I don't think those jackets count as thermal underwear. Just to be clear, the problem here isn't one of translation but of categorization. Good luck to anybody trying to wear those jackets under their clothes.

And finally, snow is extremely uncommon in Zhongshan, and rain remains a possibility during winter months. So of course Walmart sells umbrellas as well.

scarves on display under an "umbrellas" sign at a Walmart in Zhongshan


Once again, good luck.




*Not long ago there was another Walmart store, but it is now no more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Some Serenity in Zhongshan

Whether or not you could use a break from the news, here is a non-newsworthy, but rather peaceful, moment at a small place of worship in Zhongshan:


Shengdi Dian (圣帝殿) in Longtouhuan Village (龙头环村), Shaxi Town, Zhongshan
Shengdi Dian (圣帝殿) in Longtouhuan Village (龙头环村)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

From Halloween to Singles Day at Toys "R" Us in China

Not so surprisingly, the Halloween sale at a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China, ended on Halloween — October 31. Also not so surprisingly, it was only a short time before the store began another promotion. From November 2 until November 11 Toys "R" Us will celebrate Single's Day with a sale on a variety of toys.

Singles Day sale display at a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan


As described by Lisa Lacy in an Adweek article about the holiday not taking off in the U.S.:
Singles Day started out [in China] as an anti-Valentine’s Day movement among college students in 1993. They picked 11/11 because it’s a date comprised of ones. The concept: Treat yourself.

Alibaba co-opted it in 2009 as an excuse to push winter coats, and the rest is history: Since then, China’s online audience has grown to more than 800 million consumers by Alibaba’s count. Along the way, Singles Day has matured into the single biggest shopping day in the world—selling more than $25 billion in 24 hours last year.
Children are indeed single, so I suppose it fits. The promotion is perhaps more reflective of how many businesses use a variety of holidays for promotions without necessarily intending any deep connection between the products on sale and the actual holiday.

Many other retailers in China are having Singles Day sales, including a store for a Chinese clothing brand that is a short walk from the Toys "R" Us.

Singles Day sale at La Chapelle in Zhongshan


The impact of the holiday on sales, including online, will be closely watched to see if it provides further indication that China's economy is slowing. In any case, if you are thinking of buying a mini foosball table, now might be your best time — especially if you're single.

Singles Day sale on mini foosball table on then Toys "R" Us China website
Source

Monday, November 5, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fruit For Sale as Usual in Zhongshan

fruit stand at night in Zhongshan, China
Fruit stand on Halloween night

Although it wasn't too hard to find signs of the holiday on Halloween night at some shopping centers, bars, and even convenience stores in Zhongshan, in most places life went on like any other day. And if you wanted some candy, or some fruit, saying "Trick or treat!" wouldn't help very much.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Black Dumplings, Gourds, and a Meaty Mannequin: Halloween Spirit in Zhongshan, China

In past years I have shared Halloween-related scenes from cities such as Taipei in 2011, Changsha in 2012, Shaoguan in 2015, Shenyang in 2016, and most recently Changsha again in 2017. The posts have numerous photos of people in costumes, promotions, and food. Perhaps some day I will fill in some of what I missed sharing here, which includes Halloween experiences in Dalian, Shanghai, and Zhuhai. But for now I will share a sample of what I saw in Zhongshan, since it is where I spent Halloween this year.

One of the earliest signs of Halloween I came across was a promotion at 7-Eleven stores which began weeks before the holiday. Yes, I gave the three black cuttlefish items a try.

Halloween black cuttlefish foods at 7-Eleven in Zhongshan, China


The dumplings were tasty with some Sriracha-style sauce, but a couple of them were rather soggy. The sausage was too dried out. The cuttlefish balls were OK. None of it was as good as the black spidery pizza I tried at Pizza Hut in Shenyang two years ago. At least 7-Eleven had a special price for getting the three together. Not all the items were specially made for Halloween, but the dumplings are now gone.

To wash down all of that cuttlefish ink, 7-Eleven had a special Halloween deal on . . . Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey lemonade and cola drinks of course.

7-Eleven sign for Halloween sale of Jack Daniel's drinks


Moving on . . .

Three years ago I saw a Halloween display at n RT-Mart in Shaoguan. This year in Zhongshan, RT-Mart kept up the Halloween spirit.

Display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


Display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


Their selection possibly surpassed what was available at a Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan. Also, the display had a dark area inside of it where glowing items could be tested.

children playing with toys inside a display of Halloween items for sale at an RT-Mart in Zhongshan


A Carrefour in Zhongshan similarly had Halloween items for sale.

Display of Halloween items for sale at a Carrefour in Zhongshan, China


Carrefour took it up another notch, though, with a Halloween gourd display.

Halloween display of gourds for sale at a Carrefour in Zhongshan, China


The Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall had a Halloween-themed food fair as part of celebrations for the one year anniversary of its newest section.

Halloween-themed inflated arch at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall in Zhongshan, China


Several nights before Halloween, the fair was packed.

Halloween food fair at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall in Zhongshan, China


None of the food itself was any different from what could appear at any other food fairs, but at least one of the sellers was in the holiday spirit.

man wearing a caveman costume


There was also occasional dancing.

young women dancing


On Halloween day there were a variety of activities. The Lihe Plaza shopping mall appeared prepared for a musical performance, but I didn't stick around to listen.

Stage with a halloween theme at Lihe Plaza


One popular gathering area that night was the central outdoor area at the Central Power Plaza shopping mall, where there were several people painting faces as part of a promotion.

people gathered for Halloween activities at Central Power Plaza in Zhongshan


By 10 p.m on Halloween night at the Shiqi Dasin Metro-Mall, many of the vendors at the food fair had already packed up and departed. But even with a now sagging arch, there were still photographic opportunities.



Some bars, including one at the mall, also got into the holiday spirit. In part because most are far separated from one another, I didn't bother with a pub crawl — so no photos. I also won't be sharing a set of photos of people dressed up for the holiday. See the earlier posts for plenty of those. But here's one of a pirate sitting at McDonald's on Halloween night:

young woman wearing a pirate hat sitting at McDonald's in Zhongshan, China


Finally, for the first time ever I will award a winner (of what I happened to see) for best Halloween spirit. Carrefour wins hands down. No, the Halloween items for sale or the glorious gourds aren't what led to this special distinction.

Instead, I introduce the Halloween Dried Meats Witch:

female mannequin dressed in dried meats and wearing a Halloween witch hat


Perhaps that will become a popular costume for next year.