Wednesday 12 December 2012

Pound shop backstory - 'Commodity City' - home of pound shop supply

Ever wonder where pound shops obtain those supplies not sourced via your surplus goods department?
Quick answer: China. However, nowhere reflects China's contribution to the pound shop phenomenon better than the town of Yiwu, about two hours by fast train from Shanghai. Four decades ago it was a small town - now it is a "commodity city" with a population of over a million.

Yiwu City has the largest small commodity market in the world.
It seems dedicated entirely to the production, exhibition and sale of the thousands of small products that cram the shelves of pound shops. Any shop owner can visit the city, order a dozen different kinds of vases, teddy bears or fishing nets, anything they want and which can be made for under a pound, fill a container and have it shipped back to the UK.

Vital statistics
And massive it is. 4.3 million square metres of floor space containing 62,000 booths representing factories and suppliers producing everything from 2011 Rugby World Cup balls to Hello Kitty socks.

Yiwu’s 3,000 jewellery booths make it the largest supplier in China and the jewellery accessories sector is even bigger. 70% of pens in China come from there, 60% of the gloves, and for those inclined, there are 3,000 booths peddling underwear. Yiwu is often called Sock City – if you’re wearing socks anywhere in the world, there’s a 50% chance they came from Yiwu.

Can’t wait to pay a visit? 
In which case, a  few helpful Chinese terms for visiting Yiwu
Yī wàn ge duō shao qián? … How much for 10,000?
Tài guì le! … That’s expensive!
Wà zi nǎ lǐ? … Where are the socks?
Wǒ néng bu néng mǎi yī ge? … Am I able to buy one of them?

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