Shopping by proxy
My brother and mother are both leaving for HK next Saturday for 3 and 6 weeks respectively. It means... A two-people household for most of the summer. It also means shopping by proxy. Probably more intense this time, since I now know all about the goodies you can get from HK and not anywhere else. Mostly, it's the clothing: a bargain is to be found all the time. Another thing is consumer electronics, especially what's called "seuil fo", goods that some HK companies import from other markets and sell back without warranty or some minimal store warranty, but at a much reduced price (if you bargain right) and no taxes, b/c HK has no sales taxes.
Combined with a super favourable exchange rate (thank you Alberta), everything is cheap cheap cheap. A combo at McDonalds is about 3.50CAD (20-25HKD), as a reference, and has been the ruin of many visiting CBCs, ABCs. Curiously, a mezzo latte at Starbucks is also 20-25HKD, which is about the same price as in Canada. Foreign magazines and English newspapers (the SCMP) are particularly expensive - the SCMP is 7HKD, but then it caters to expats, visiting CBCs/ABCs. Obviously, one of the free weeklies in English has an upper-class yuppie feel to it (ads for expensive restaurants, beauty salons for men...).
I've been also shopping at Uni-Qlo, b/c I know they make cool designed tees. My first visit to a Uni-Qlo was in nowhere Iwate town Ichinoseki, on the Tohoku Shinkansen line between Sendai and Morioka, where Uri picked me up to drive me to the village where he teaches English. The store looks and feels like a Gap, and yet, I am not very used to the type of clothes they sell. Maybe it's trendier, per Western standards? Or simply, the different styles makes me feel as if it's trendier. In any case, the HK prices are about like in Japanese stores, which is more affordable than in NA or Europe for nice nice clothes. I looked at prices, and while I think Uni-Qlo in the Chinese market (another Uni-Qlo I've been to was the one near Xintiandi in Shanghai's old French Concession) positions itself as more higher-class, even if it's about the equivalent of Old Navy in Japan, just like the usual HK shops (Giordano, Bossini, Baleno, etc) sell at about their HK prices on the Mainland despite the different standard of living.
But still, shopping at Uni-Qlo is probably still cheaper than shopping at Gap... You get the trendiness at a bargain, what an easy win-win situation...
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